SEO Case Study: How I Increased My Organic Traffic 652% in 7 Days

SEO Case Study: How I Increased My Organic Traffic 652% in 7 Days

There’s a new SEO strategy that’s crushing it right now.

(“Skyscraper Technique 2.0”)

I recently used this strategy to increase organic traffic to one of my pages by 652.1%.

Skyscraper Technique 2.0 – Traffic increase

(In 7 days)

This same approach helped my brand new post hit the #1 spot in Google… within weeks.

Backlinko – Mobile SEO – Number 1 spot SERPs

And today I’m going to show you exactly how I did it, step-by-step.

My Content Was a Smash Hit… Then It Flopped

On July 26th, 2016 I published this post:

SEO Checklist (2016)

My post got a huge spike in traffic in its first week:

SEO Checklist – Traffic spike in first week

Lots of shares:

SEO Checklist – Social shares

And people quickly started linking to it:

SEO Checklist – Links

Sure enough, my page cracked the top 10 for my target keyword (“SEO checklist”) a few weeks later.

SEO Checklist – Cracking the top 10

All good right?

Well… not really.

You see, my posts usually get more traffic from SEO over time.

Not my SEO checklist page.

In fact: organic traffic to that page decreased as time went on.

SEO Checklist – Traffic drop over time

It got so bad that my post averaged only 4-5 visitors per day.

SEO Checklist – Low daily visitors

And my rankings dropped to the middle of the second page:

SEO Checklist – SERPs, low

That’s When I Wondered: “What Happened?!”

On paper my content had everything going for it:

200+ backlinks.

Lots of comments (which Google likes).

And social shares out the wazoo.

What was missing?

User Intent.

User Intent + SEO = Higher Rankings

Remember:

Google’s #1 goal is to make users happy.

Which means they need to give people results that match their User Intent.

Never heard of User Intent? Here’s a simple explanation:

UI

User Intent

noun

Definition

The main goal behind a user's Google search.

And Google is REALLY good at figuring out User Intent.

In fact, a big part of Google RankBrain is to give users “results that it thinks searchers will like the most”.

RankBrain summary

And the 2018 Google Quality Rater Guidelines has an entire section on User Intent:

Google Guidelines – Understanding user intent

Google has even started asking users about their User Intent:

Google user intent survey

That’s when it hit me:

My post was getting buried because it didn’t satisfy user intent.

Here’s what happened next:

Skyscraper Technique 2.0: (An SEO Strategy That Works GREAT In 2018)

After I optimized my page around User Intent, organic traffic shot up like a rocketship:

SEO Checklist – Traffic increase

And my rankings went from #11 to #5:

SEO Checklist – Rankings change

(And these improved rankings have stuck 4+ months later)

SEO Checklist – Sustained traffic increase

With that, here are the steps for The Skyscraper Technique 2.0:

Step 1: Figure out User Intent

Step 2: Satisfy User Intent

Step 3: Optimize for UX signals

To be clear:

The original Skyscraper Technique still works GREAT.

For example, this list of SEO tools is classic Skyscraper Content.

SEO Tools

Most SEO tools posts list 10-20 tools. So I decided to review over 180:

SEO Tools – Number of tools

And because my page is bigger and better, lots of people have linked to it:

SEO Tools – Ahrefs backlinks

That said:

This page also satisfies User Intent.

Which is why it ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:

SEO Tools – Top three

In short:

Ideally, you want to use Skyscraper Technique 1.0 AND 2.0.

Skyscraper Techniques 1 & 2

Skyscraper Technique 1.0 helps you get the links you need to hit the first page.

And Skyscraper Technique 2.0 will make sure those rankings stick.

Let’s dive into the steps…

Step #1: Figure Out User Intent

Here are two simple ways to identify User Intent:

Analyze the First Page

Google’s first page gives you a HUGE insight into User Intent.

Why?

If something ranks on Google’s first page, you KNOW that it satisfies User Intent.

So all you need to do is search for your keyword…

Sample Google search

…and scan the top 10 results.

Sample Google search results

Specifically, answer the question:

“What kind of intent do these results satisfy?”

Do people want information? If so, are they looking for the basics… or advanced strategies?

Do they want to buy something? If so, are they ready to buy… or comparing two different products?

Types of user content

For example…

If you search for “Office Space Brooklyn”, the results are 100% transactional:

In fact, 10 out of 10 results are sites for booking an office space:

But if you search for “Coworking Space Brooklyn”, you get something completely different:

The results are mostly blog posts about the best coworking spots in the city:

Coworking space Brooklyn – Website

So:

On the surface these keywords seem similar.

But Google’s first page reveals that the User Intent is VERY different.

Look At the Keyword Itself

Sometimes the keyword itself tells you all you need to know.

For example…

With my SEO checklist post, I asked myself:

“What does someone searching for ‘SEO checklist’ actually want?”

Duh! They want an SEO checklist.

Despite that, my original post was a case study… not a checklist.

SEO Checklist – Case study highlight

Sure, there were some steps that resembled a checklist.

SEO Checklist – Steps highlight

But it wasn’t the type of detailed checklist that searchers wanted.

And Google noticed.

Which leads us to…

Step #2: Satisfy User Intent

At this point I had User Intent figured out.

And now it was time to publish something to match that User Intent.

Here’s exactly how I did it:

Covered the Basics

I noticed that other content ranking for “SEO checklist” had steps for people new to SEO:

Other SEO Checklist content had steps

And I quickly realized something:

My original post was WAY too advanced.

In fact, the first step was: “Delete Dead Weight Pages”.

SEO Checklist – Delete dead weight pages

This is a strategy that people new to SEO should absolutely NOT use.

So I replaced this advanced strategy with steps for SEO newbies:

SEO Checklist – New first step

Changed the Format

Like I mentioned earlier, the original version of my post was a step-by-step case study.

So I changed the format.

This time, I made the content more checklisty.

SEO Checklist – Add SERPs

Covered More Stuff

Google’s top 10 results were clear:

People searching for “SEO checklist” want checklists that cover LOTS of different stuff.

People want SEO checklists that cover a lot

Despite that, my post had ZERO info on:

  • Technical SEO
  • Link building
  • Keyword research
  • SEO software and tools

So I expanded my post to hit on these important subtopics:

Important subtopics

I Emphasized “2018”

I noticed a clear pattern in the search results:

Most of the content pointed out that their checklist worked in 2018.

SEO Checklist – SERPs year focus

So I emphasized that my checklist was up-to-date.

How?

I included “2018” in my title tag…

SEO Checklist – New title tag

…in the introduction…

SEO Checklist year in intro

…and I even mentioned “2018” a few times in the content itself:

SEO Checklist year in content

Now:

In this case I rewrote an existing post.

But you can use this same strategy for brand new content.

For example…

A few months ago I wanted to write something about mobile optimization.

The first thing I did was search for “Mobile SEO”… and scan the results.

And I noticed 3 things about Google’s first page results:

They covered WHY mobile SEO is important.

Importance of Mobile SEO result

So I led off my guide with a handful of stats:

Why is Mobile SEO Important?

2. They wrote about responsive design vs. dynamic serving vs. “M. mobile sites”

Other site – Responsive design section

So did I:

Responsive design section

3. They had tips for improving sitespeed.

Other site – Site speed section

So I included a section on that.

Site speed section

The end result was “Mobile SEO: The Definitive Guide”.

Mobile SEO Guide

And largely thanks to The Skyscraper Technique 2.0, it quickly climbed to the #1 for my target keyword:

Mobile SEO Guide – SERPs

(Above heavyweights like Moz, Search Engine Land… even Google itself)

And now it’s time to…

Step #3: Optimize for UX Signals

Here’s the deal:

Your content can be a PERFECT match for User Intent.

But if it looks like this…

Ugly website

…people are gonna leave your site like it’s on fire.

And Google will quickly downrank you:

Google downranks sites that are poor matches for user intent

So now that you’ve nailed User Intent, it’s time to optimize for UX Signals.

Specifically, this step is all about engineering your content to:

  • Maximize Dwell Time
  • Maximize organic CTR
  • Minimize bounce rate

Here’s how:

Embed Videos

Wistia found that: “people spent on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without.”

Average time spent on page

Now:

I’ve never seen a video work THAT well.

But videos can definitely keep people on your site longer.

That’s why I embedded a few videos in my SEO checklist post:

SEO Checklist – Video embeds

Table of Contents

I added a table of contents to the top of my new post:

SEO Checklist – Table of contents

And this table of contents got me some sweet sitelinks in the search results:

SEO Checklist – Sitelinks in SERPs

Needless to say, these sitelinks boosted my organic CTR.

Short Introductions

What’s the first thing someone does when they land on your post?

They read your intro.

In fact, take a look at this heatmap from the Backlinko blog:

Backlinko blog – Heatmap

As you can see, there’s A LOT of action on the first few lines of my intro:

Backlinko blog – Heatmap intro focus

And if you start your post off with a long intro… users are gonna bounce.

That’s why I write short and sweet introductions (5-8 sentences).

SEO Checklist – Intro

LOTS of Examples

Examples INSTANTLY separate your content from the regurgitated garbage that most people publish.

So don’t be afraid to use tons of examples in every post.

For example:

I included 19 examples in my new SEO checklist post:

SEO Checklist – Examples

H2 and H3 Subheaders

Subheaders break up your content into chunks:

SEO Checklist – Subheaders

(Which makes your content MUCH easier to read)

In fact:

My SEO checklist post has over 9 subheaders:

SEO Checklist – Subheaders count

Short Sentences. Short Paragraphs.

Here’s how to make your content 10x easier to read:

Short sentences. Short paragraphs.

That’s why I write short sentences:

Short sentences

And use 1-2 sentence paragraphs:

One-to-two sentence paragraphs

Which is a big part of why my post’s average time on page is 5:53.

Google Analytics – Average time on page

Over To You

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What do you think of The Skyscraper Technique 2.0?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

360 Comments

      1. Brian i just wanna ask you is that how you create custom pages like Backlinks: The definative guide 2018 post on your blog….Are there any template you use to hire the freelancers to do this work for you ..?

    1. Thanks Nic. That’s true: my rankings have been super stable on my SEO checklist post since I gave it the Skyscraper 2.0 treatment.

    1. Cheers Calin. The original Skyscraper still works well. But SEO has changed a lot since 2013 (when I first wrote bout The Skyscraper Technique). So it’s good to have a new strategy to use in 2018 and beyond.

  1. Very interesting Brian. I’m still fascinated by how Google *thinks* it can truly determine user intent. The act of someone coming to a page, quickly skimming or reading it, and then leaving without interacting at all (no sharing, commenting, submitting a form, etc) and certainly without filling out a survey (who the hell has time for surveys!?) does NOT mean that the reader or user was not happy with the result they found. Nevertheless, I guess it’s the best way to guess whether a reader or user was satisfied with what they found.

    1. Thanks Michael.

      I agree with you. Google has called those signals “messy”. But they can be pretty conclusive in some cases. For example, if someone visits a page and heads back to the search results and clicks on something else… that is a signal that the first result didn’t satisfy user intent.

      (The book “In The Plex” quotes Google employees saying that they use this specific situation in the algorithm)

  2. Hi Brian,

    Just saw this in my email haha! I knew its gonna be a bomb..

    Awesome new strategy plus great results right here.

    I would sure apply the techniques and see how it works….

    Google are paying great attention to UX.

    Great post once again and have a nice day.

  3. As usual, I am impressed with the quality of your content. Thank you Brian for articles like these, as they really help us implement the techniques on our websites! Good luck with your blog.

  4. Skyscraper 2.0 looks like an SEO CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) play.

    Makes sense- a lot of the technical SEOs I follow speculated that the recent Google algorithm updates (8/1 and 9/27) specifically related to user-intent/user-engagement, on-page factors.

    Awesome guide- so Skyscraper 1 is off-page and now Skyscraper 2 is on-page. A good duality.

    1. Thanks Ryan. That’s true: content that matches user intent is also going to help your conversions.

      And yes, user interaction signals are HUGE right now. They’re too helpful for Google to ignore.

  5. Well done, Brian! Ignoring user intent was a huge mistake I made with the first posts I published on my new authority site. I recognized that a week ago and now you confirmed with this article that I was getting on the right track. Thanks mate!

  6. Amazing content as always Brian! It is a simple thing if you think about, but as you have shown it can have a massive impact on your numbers. I especially agree on short, easy to read paragraphs, it makes such a difference in bounce rate.

    1. Thanks Otto. For sure: readability is one of the most underrated skills in SEO and content marketing. If people can’t read your stuff, it’s not going to do well. Period.

  7. Bro I really dig your work. I have been telling people about “What Is” content (content with an informational bias as opposed to transaction oriented bias) mapping to user intent on highly competitive keywords for a while now, and you hit the nail on the head as usual. Well done.

      1. Same here. Now I see serps differently. Just this one article made me capable of finding user intent at an advanced level.

        Brian’s topic updates are epic and shouldnt be missed

  8. Epic post as always, love your blog! It sounds like Google is doing what it should do and that’s giving users what they want and removing sites that are gaming the system.

    1. Thanks Seb! Absolutely: this is the direction Google is going. Whoever delivers the legit BEST result is going to win. And a big part of being “best” is matching user intent better than anyone else.

  9. Hey Brian,
    I face the same kind of problem. 3-4 month ago my website ranking was in a good position but right now I got lots of downranking. I like the way you describe Skyscraper Technique 2.0 and hope will be back with a good result.

    1. I hope it helps, Ahsan. It’s not a magic bullet, but I’ve seen the Skyscraper Technique 2.0 consistent improve my site’s rankings for some tough keywords.

  10. Amazing stuff Brian, it’s really indepth analysis and optimization stuff. Definitely it will help to get better rankings in search results.

    Keep sharing such wonderful guides.

  11. Now I figured out why my site is hit with google update. I don’t focus on user intent. I just focus alone on 5000-6000 words post. But thanks Brain for this post. You really is a genius.

  12. Hey Brian Great Information. My websites one post was losing visitors last month. My post was taken down from page1 to page2 by google. At that time I really got confused. Then I figured out that my article was not matching user intent query. My article talks about some different topic that a user doesn’t want to read. My bounce rate was high.

    Then I optimize my post for user intent by figuring out other websites.
    Now that post ranks in Top 5 Page of Google. But I want a no1 position and I know how to do that after reading your article. Your post covers all the factors needed for matching user intent. I will definitely give it a shot.

    Cheers
    Jatin Thakur

  13. Great post as always. Skyscraper techniques are great but getting backlinks in 2018 is getting really tough. Could a site rank in the first page just by using good content without backlinks?

  14. Fantastic as usual! Backlinko is a diamond among dirt and will be my top go-to resource for current SEO trends as long as you’re cranking out the knowledge! Thanks Brian!

  15. That fantastic, crazy Canadian genius Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message” and I love how you consistently, methodically break down what that means for online search.

  16. Yes! This concurs with my experience. I have more authority backlinks, better content but still I get outranked on some keywords. For me it also seems like Google has made a huge shift in the last months toward more user intent and user behaviour.

    I am thinking about maybe adding a small non intrusive form on specific pages to ask what visitors are looking for on that specific page.

    Also what metric do you think is best to a/b test for? Bounce rate, avg time or amount of visited pages? I would think avg time on page.

    1. Hey Koen, I haven’t tested a lot of interactive stuff (besides videos), but a form could help. Either way, I’d definitely study the first page and see what the user intent is for that particular term. To answer your question: I focus on avg time on page.

  17. Great stuff, Brian. Backlinks definitely help improve rankings, but only if the content matches the searcher intent. I’ve had some of my content rank well with few or zero backlinks by keeping the content as my main focus. Although recently, backlinks seem to be used as a trust signal more heavily since the medic update. What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks for writing this. I’ll definitely be referring to it again in the future!

    1. Thanks Nick. Glad you enjoyed it.

      To answer your question: I’m still making sense of exactly what Google was doing with the Medic update. There’s no doubt in my mind that trust was a big part of it. But it’s hard to see if it’s links based or based on other on-site trust signals.

  18. In our industry, there are usually two groups of opposing searchers landing on our pages. Landlords and Tenants.

    This means intent is very different for the person landing on the page and I try and appeal to both people in the intro copy.

    Especially because there are 10 tenants for every 1 landlord.

    Our product is geared towards landlords but if the copy appeals to landlords AND tenants it will improve our position over time meaning more landlords will see it.

    It’s a rising tide raises all boats type of situation.

    It’s good to think about who else might be landing on the page and not just your target demographic.

    When we refresh content we keep this in mind now.

    Great article Brian… thanks for sharing.

    1. Sounds good, Eric. In that situation I think what you’re doing is smart: trying to appeal to both groups as much as you can. You’re 100% on the right track already.

      1. Good to know Brian. Your content is super helpful for staying on track. The CTR case studies On the GSC guide are great.

        After reading that guide I realized how many tenants were landing on our content and started speaking Moreno to both sides. Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome. I honestly can’t blame them. In the old days of SEO, UX didn’t make much of a difference. But today it’s HUGE

  19. Hey Brian,

    As always an awesome and comprehensive guide. I was always wondering which plugin do you use for table of contents?

  20. I was waiting for your new research. The new skyscaper technique is really amazing. “Step 2: User Intent” is more important for 2018 SEO. I will use the technique. Thanks for coming with the new once.

  21. This post is great but I feel you can’t make trademark on this technique.

    It is usually obvious to most SEOs and isn’t revolutionary like first Skyscraper technique. I am not saying it bad, it is good but I still think that it isn’t mind blowing like you previously did with post. Sorry if I criticize but I just want to say what I feel.

  22. Hey Brian,
    I really like all of your blogs and YouTube videos. I watched them over 20 times so far. It really helped me understand SEO in general and also in depth. I appreciate you sharing what you’ve researched! I get super excited whenever I see your email because I just know that I will learn from you. I am waiting to see your upcoming YouTube videos as well!

    Thanks again for sharing this awesome content.
    -Sandy

      1. AWESOME! I’m so excited to see your upcoming videos!
        I know you are really busy, but as I was working on growing my channel, I have one question for you.

        You know how Instagram only allows up to approximately 30 tags?
        I was wondering how many tags we can use for YouTube. I want to get discovered my many people out there and was using the same technique as you taught, which is using the exact same tag as competitors, but it didn’t help me to discover on “related video”

        Also, vidiq suggests having at least 400 tag characters.

        I know you are busy but I wanted to hear from your opinion since you are the SEO king! haha

        Thanks Brian.

    1. In my experience, Skyscraper 1.0 is usually enough. But not always. For times when 1.0 isn’t enough, 2.0 comes in handy

  23. Great post Brain!
    But.
    How would you do this for a local client?
    Let’s say in the “Auto Repair Space”
    Would you simple look at the competitors “minus” the directory sites (i.e.- yelp, yellow pages, etc.) and copy what they’re doing.
    By copying I mean, if they have a services page – create a service page, if they have a product page – create a product page?
    Could you explain how you would do this..
    Thanks for another great post, Brian!

    1. Good question, Justin. It actually depends a lot on the specific keyword. For someone searching for “Auto repair [city]” I’d look at the SERPs to see what’s ranking. And base your content based on the user intent you find. Does that make sense?

  24. Hey Brian!

    Love your stuff! Another amazing post. With all your great skyscraper content (lots of screenshot and images) what do you personally to balance pagespeed with so many images? Do you ever find it difficult?

    Thanks again for all the great content

    1. Thanks Alex. I appreciate that.

      To answer your question, I use Kraken to compress and optimize images for speed. All those images definitely slow things down. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

  25. Amazing piece of content, per usual Brian!

    I’m looking forward to experimenting with Skyscraper 2.0 on a new piece of content for a client in a niche with a lot of opportunities. (Aka most content in the industry looks like the Gate N Fences page.)

  26. Im relatively new to your blog and already went through Skyscraper 1.0 …now this. I’m confident now I’m turning your space into my go-to blog. Thanks a million Brian for all the valuable insights.

  27. This is an eyeopener for me, this makes allot of sense as to why some competitive sites to mine are ranking higher then me with less backlinks. Very interesting, allot to learn and implement!

  28. Brian, your content stands out from the rest because it’s so in depth and you don’t hold back the best for something you’ll make money off of. Also, it doesn’t hurt that you’re just plain smarter than most of the other SEO folks! Thanks for being there.

  29. Hey Brian,

    This was an awesome read, thanks for posting.

    I’m in a niche where every single post I write is essentially skyscraper content. Not only because I want the best content out there but also because my competitors make producing it really easy (most content in my niche sucks!)

    I always try to analyse user intent before I even put finger to keyboard but I’m going to go through my site over the next week to spot any issues I might have missed.

    Awesome work as normal!

    1. You’re welcome, Ben. It sounds like you’re already on the right track by at least paying some attention to user intent. So you should continue to beat the crap out of your competitors 🙂

  30. Brian, excellent article from you as usual, and it’s awesome that Skyscraper technique 2.0 is not about link building, but about User Intent and it’s an On-Page technique 🙂

    Thanks for great content,

    Burim 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Burim. I try to do Skyscraper 1.0 and 2.0 for everything I publish because those links still do make a big difference.

  31. I haven’t worked on SEO in years…it just got too confusing and I wasn’t getting anywhere. User intent brought me to your site recently. Seeing your step-by-step guides on how to generate more organic traffic has given me new life. I actually look forward to working on my site’s content and backend functions. Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome, Brent. Now it an awesome and exciting time to get into the SEO game. It’s all about publishing and promoting amazing stuff.

  32. This is fantastic content…love how you explain it. I am in a very competitive local keyword phrase situation and I’m always looking for the edge that will help me outrank national brands and very competitive local sites.

    My question is can I just rework my existing page/post or do I need to make a completely new post and then do a redirect from the old content post? The issue is that the post title was optimized for the keyword phrase so I would like to keep that title (url) with the new content / layout design.

    1. Hey Yates, I prefer to rework the page that’s already ranking. Usually those pages have some other signals (like links) and just need some user intent love to rank. But it’s ultimately your call.

  33. Another helpful and insightful post to help me get my recipes to the first page of google! I used your techniques before and it got my Beef Brisket Chilli recipe on the first page (check it out if you have time). Keep the good content coming.

    1. You’re welcome, Rafa. Skyscraper 2.0 has helped our organic traffic go up A LOT this year. And considering it’s giving Google what it wants, I’m expecting it work even better in 2019.

  34. Another “University of Brian” winning post. Working towards my SEO Masters degree. Making up for lost time, so lots of ground to cover. Wish I could upload flash drive of all your posts to my brain…..

  35. Brian, a keyword I want to target has 2 posts with DA29 ranking on page 1. It also has a couple of quora questions and Amazon pages.

    Do you think it’s worth going for it? And what’s your opinion on targeting keywords that have multiple amazon pages on page 1?

    Cheers

    1. Hamz it’s hard to say without know all the variables. But based on what you’ve said here that keyword sounds pretty low competition. Outranking Amazon is tough but doable.

  36. This is gold, Brian! Search intent and UX are more important than ever now.

    p.s. Best thing about this is probably how well you explain stuff.

    I noticed you’re using even fewer paragraphs than usual, which makes it read almost like a chat, very personal.

    it’s like I’m chatting with you XD

  37. Hi Brian,

    I found this too. You try and place a keyword into the wrong type of power page and it gets no results, as the user is actually searching for a different type of result. I did this with a keyword and couldn’t even get on page 2, then using the same keyword, looked for what people are typing it in for, through checking search results, completely restructured it and now it ranks number 3 on page 1. I’ve also found better than comments on posts is actions on posts e.g. download this or subscribe here, shows Google great user engagement. In fact we noticed on one post that ranks number one that dwell time was lower than on our average posts, but because our CTA was right towards the top to download a template our ranking was still number one. Just shows user engagement and maximising that is paramount in modern SEO. Thanks for the great read and looking forward to the updated backlink course.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Luke. I kind of always knew that my SEO checklist post wasn’t the best match for “SEO checklist”. And for a while, the other signals (like backlinks) helped prop it up. But ultimately, like with your page, it just wasn’t a great fit. It was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. But once I matched my content to user intent, everything went up in a big way.

  38. This is awesome man! I’ve been following you for a while and I have to say, your content’s always perfectly timed. I’m impressed with your ability to find trends as they’re emerging but before they’ve fully broken through – and then create outstanding content that secures your spot on page one when they do blow up. Great advice and I’ll definitely be going over older posts optimizing for intent.

    1. Thanks Brad! I appreciate that. Please keep me posted on how optimizing old posts works out for you. I’ve done this for like 6-7 posts here at Backlinko over the last year and the results have been consistently INSANE

  39. What an awesome post with lot of real world examples to prove things. This post is justifies each and every statement you say in each section. You nailed it

  40. I have been following the your skyscrapper 1.0 to make new backlinks from past 2 months. The result was very good. Now, you have posted skyscrapper 2.0, I hope to will help me to retain my position in google.

    Thank You Brian!

  41. Hi Brian,

    Loving this Skyscraper Technique 2.0, I have Some Doubt to rank top result, Google gives more important to backlinks or for user Intent.

    Thank for sharing this technique with us, I am going to try on my old blog posts.

  42. Brian,

    With Google increasingly using RankBrain metrics, do you think the long-term need for links on a page will decrease? Not that links over the long-term will decrease, but rather a page will likely rank faster with links, but overall, content will be the primary factor for Google’s ranking of a page over the lifespan of the page?

    1. Hey Scott, good question. My take is that links are still a valuable ranking factor for Google. They let Google know if a site’s content is trustworthy and valuable (for example, you could have a site with amazing UX signals…. but the info is 100% made up). So I think there’s a place for both in Google’s algorithm for many many years.

  43. Skyscraper 2.0 is to satisfy the user intent and to make Google happy. Brian, do you have any suggestions for beginner SEO on how to understand user intent while working on SEO campaign.

  44. The golden goose that keeps giving. You’re an (inter)national treasure, Brian. A new door opens every time I read one of your posts

  45. When you stop and think, it makes perfect sense:
    “Google’s #1 goal is to make users happy.
    Which means they need to give people results that match their User Intent.”

    Thanks for sharing your new technique and results, Brian.
    – David

    1. You’re welcome, David. It does make sense but it slipped past me until I had that experience with my SEO checklist post.

  46. Hello,
    I absolutely love your content, Thank you so much!
    I was wondering if when you updated your skyscraper technique, you updated your old blog post or made a whole new post.
    Is it bad for SEO to update old posts and repost them? How much of your old content can you reuse without getting penalized?
    For example, If you create a blog post before you amass a following can you update it and repost it after having gathered readers?
    Thank you again for your amazing content.
    Kamelia

    1. Hi Kamelia, in the case of my SEO checklist post, I updated the existing post. The update was significant so there’s nothing shady to worry about in terms of a Google penalty.

  47. interpreting user intent for a keyword using the search results on first page can mislead you. I have noticed this while I’m ranking my affiliate website. Everytime when I do my keyword competition research I notice only (most of the time) ecommerce websites ranking on first page and most of the time I outrank them with my well researched list of products.

  48. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for sharing Skyscraper Technique 2.0, it will sure help me to rank on google. My site authority is very low but it ranks higher from the competitor who has a high domain authority than mine.
    So building quality backlinks and guest posting on other blogs still help my site to rank higher or I just have to concentrate on the quality of the post.

    Thanks

  49. Hi Brian, thanks for sharing! Will try it! What is your thought about this situation:

    – you have commercial keyword to rank (for example: slow juicers) on your blog (my position is 22)
    – top 10 results are only e-shops. Not too much description, mainly juicer prices

    On my blog there is very long post (7.000 words) comparing different juicer types with only few mention of product prices.

    Should I add more price examples to be in line with e-shops or use different strategy?

    Thomas

    1. Thomas, I’d strongly consider that approach. Or you could optimize around a different keyword (like “best slow juicers”) that’s less transactional and more commercial.

  50. Hi Brian,
    many thanks for this geniune article. I have some questions. I’m a little confuse.
    So, We should start with which technique? the original or the second? It seems like the second technique is more than On page SEO and It should normally be always applied when you publish an article.
    Helena

    1. You’re welcome, Helena. Ideally you’d do both. It’s important to think about links and user intent as you plan and write your content.

  51. Hi Brian.

    Thanks, great stuff as always. And so beautifully presented. You are genuinely helpful, and if this approach helps yourself in the end, then there is some justice in this universe. 🙂

    Two questions:

    1. To what extent do your tips and techniques apply to much smaller languages (like 5 million reading in Danish)? Should we aim broader – and rank faster?

    2. On launching an affiliate review site, there seems to be a contradiction between short and clear recommendations (lists etc) and the demand for long form content in order to rank. Any ideas on how to tackle this dilemma?

    1. You’re welcome, Jansen. To answer your questions:

      1. The same techniques apply. I have tons of Danish readers that have used these strategies and had success. Of course, you might need to tweak things a bit.
      2. I’d look at the SERPs. They’ll tell you what searchers for that keyword want to see.

  52. Skyscraper 2.0 makes total sense, Brian! I’m sending everyone to you already from my new passive income program for new mamas…and they are just as appreciative as I that you make SEO so freaking simple. THANK YOU!!!

  53. Great post Brian – I probably missed it but do backlinks outrank user intent? In other words, if you try this on new content would it rank faster? Not sure how you test it. Thanks!

    1. Good question. Backlinks are still a must. For example, with the mobile SEO guide I mentioned in the post: it didn’t rank right away even though it was a great match for user intent. But once it got some backlinks it cracked the first page… the zoomed to the #1 spot.

  54. Brian, great piece, as always! I’ve definitely found similar results in my work. User intent is massive!

    Another great way to increase time on page and reduce bounce rate is to add a table of contents with anchor links to your section headings!

  55. Hi Brian

    These are great and I totally agree that search intent has become a major ranking factor. One thing I miss from your recommendations is the summary. It’s also missing from your post.
    I think it makes such a long article to have a TL;DR summary at the end. Even link it from the top of the article. People come back, read the article again but they don’t want to go through the full article, just get a reminder of the most important tasks.

    Cheers

  56. Woo… This post comes in at the right time. I’ve a service page that drops like a stone from page 1 to page 3. In fact, my page content is so much better than those ranking in page 1. Now, I begin to see why – user intent.

    So what happens if most results in page 1 are sites like directory. As you know, directories contain mainly a list of vendors available in the area. It does not make sense if I rewrite my service page to have a similar directory structure and provide free links to all my competitor sites. What’s your thoughts on this?

    1. Cheefoo, great question. It depends. If 100% of searchers want a directory, you’ll probably need a directory. But if some are looking for a service page, you can probably crack the top 10 with a high-quality service page. It depends a lot on the specific keyword and what that person is looking for.

      1. Oh gosh… You’re absolutely right. I think my page may not be a service page. But rather it looks like an informational page with several similiar topics.

        I just want to be sure. How do you define a service page? A sales pitch page?

  57. Hey, thanks so much Brain! Just finished reading your new article. My post was at the top5 last month, but somehow it has been dropping. I couldn’t figure out why. I changed my theme weeks ago, do you think this would be a reason? Also, yes, I need to rewrite my content by using your strategies, let’s see what will happen. Anyway, thanks a lot!

    1. You’re welcome, Spencer. It’s hard to say without digging into the details. It could be a Google algo change or something to do with the theme change.

  58. Amazing! It is that kind of stuff that I try to bottom-line for my CIS colleagues, but they are all got used to bad, unquality and cheap methods. Like grey/black SEO. Many of them enjoy PBN’s and spammed link-building… But come on, that sucks!
    Only because of guys like you, I still believe that one day all of them would understand: “hmm, that guy really knows what he does, maybe we should try?” 😀
    Thank you for as always gorgeous content!

  59. Hi Brian.
    A bit off topic.
    Some SEOs prefer to use page, instead of post, for their content. They said that they have more control of the content on a page compared to a post.
    What’s your take on that?

  60. This is really amazing and very helpful, Brian. Whenever I check Google results for a particular keyword I want to rank for, I would always look for some common denominator, though most of the time I really don’t know what specific things I need to look for. But now I know–User Intent. Really thanks for sharing.

  61. Hey, Brian, I have benefited a lot from your posts and Skyscraper technique 2.0 also provide me some valuable ideas to get into practice, my website get traffic from SEO without cost now. Now what I am struggling is the page designs which need to be improved to make it UX experienced. Thank you for your sharing.

  62. Nice information, I have one question in transactional query “example working space brooklyn” and “coworking space brooklyn” both are same how we identify both are different any way to sort out this type intent

  63. Hey Brian….As usual again an epic post from you. I really love reading your posts. Your website is like a one-stop solution for all my SEO learning.

    Thanks a lot for your generosity for sharing all your knowledge with us.

  64. I learn something new every time I visit your site. I’m so glad I’m on your email list so I don’t miss a post. I’m going back to my old content and updating it now that I’ve learned more and for sure to optimize for user intent. I get a lot of traffic from Pinterest and if those people don’t get what they want they bounce right off. Keep up the great work!

  65. Hi Brian, Recently I have seen Tumblr the blog has been redirected on their website. It is Tumblr to allow this type of factor we can also make 301 on our control panel. it is like if someone wants to visit on your blog and it redirects on the websites. I type on Tumblr Books and quote when I want to visit his blog it redirects me his website and he had a very good traffic and DA too.

  66. Hey
    Great post!
    When you say you updated your old post.
    did you update the one that exist with the same url?
    or you deleted the old one and send it again on your site?
    does google understand when a post gets update or it has to be sent as a new post ?
    Thanks

  67. Hi Brian,

    You’re considered to be an authority on SEO by my boss and me as well, especially when it comes to off-page SEO – link prospecting to be more precise. My boss read your email about Skyscraper Technique 1.0 and asked our marketing team to get it implemented. We tried the Skyscraper Technique 1.0 to try to get backlinks on a niche kind of keyword (photography marketing). And, we got content written and tried prospecting. However, we got not-so-great results. The number of good quality sites linking to the top results pages for the keyword were too low. Of the few leads that we got for prospecting, only people from 2-3 sites replied to our email.

    So, I was wondering what must have gone wrong with this approach. I feel that I selected the wrong keyword. Maybe we need to define our personas better. It would be great if you could help with some inputs.

    Thanks for the upgrade to the Skyscraper Technique. I think even this will guide me in the right direction.

  68. Great post Brian! Funny thing about reading your blogs – I actually ready EVERYTHING from beginning to end instead of just skimming through text as with other blog posts. You’re killing it with the reader-friendliness and engagement!

    1. Thanks Ruta! I work really hard on my content to make it interesting and easy to read. Glad to hear that I’m on the right track.

      1. So the change in ranking didn’t depend on time spent on the page. It depends on the content. Interesting, thanks Brian.

  69. Nowadays, an SEO specialist must become a detective to succeed. 🙂

    Analysis, a deep understanding of what is going on in the SERP results, and of course the massive actions are your distinctive sides, Brian.

    After you’ve updated your blog post, did you promote it again?

    I definitely need to try your approach, since I have one blog post that is different from the TOP sites in Google. I wrote about the blogger outreach (where your post on SmartBlogger is #1) but from a completely different angle than others. Even though I received thousands of social shares and a couple of hundred comments and backlinks, I just cannot get to the first page.

    1. Well said, Michael. I couldn’t agree more.

      The craziest part is that I didn’t promote the updated post AT ALL. I quietly updated it and Google took care of the rest. That sounds like the perfect post to try The Skyscraper Technique 2.0 on. Let me know how it goes.

  70. An amazing Post Brian! Also, I add horizontal lines after each topic and its description. Like if I write 10 tips for XYZ, after each tip I add a horizontal line. It definitely looks good. What do you think? Will it aid in UI

    Also, I changed the appearance of the main menu bar and made it easier for the user. It also helped me a lot in Ranking.

    1. Good question. It’s the same principle actually. I’d pay very close attention to the “Type of User Intent” chart in the post. If you can match your page to the user intent, you’re good.

  71. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for writing about excellent strategies to apply in 2018 within just one post.

    Can you guide us for the best UX signals that Google likes?

    1. You’re welcome. In terms of UX signals that Google looks for, there aren’t any clear cut answers from Google on that. But to me Pogosticking is the big one.

  72. Thanks for this post, Brian.

    And you are so right. Sometimes you spend an insane amount of time researching a piece of content and then some more on both on and off-page SEO.

    Then you are disappointed by the mediocre performance on the SERPs.

    I guess you have just cracked the code with ‘user intent’

    Another awesome post. Thanks for sharing.

    Patrick

  73. So much value here. But whoa im over my head. Where can I begin? Backlinks, tags, user intent. Can you point me to page one of one of your programs to purchase? I need to start at the begining. My new site launches soon and I want to do this right!

  74. User intent is such a powerful technique to focus on but is so often overlooked. This post is such a huge help to not only learn more about user intent, but to learn more about how to implement the changes necessary. As always, amazing, amazing post. Thank you!

  75. This is a pretty good explanation of intent optimization.

    However, I do think it’s not always a good idea to “copy” the Top 10 results when working out intent. Yes, Google has more data than we do, but there’s some value in being experimental and using your own knowledge of your niche.

    For example, if I searched for “SEO checklist”, I’d rather get a short-ish post with an actual checklist, without too much extra explanations. Google does not always reward content that matches the real intent.

    This guide is helpful if you’re looking to reverse-engineer intent, but the best way to know your users and what they want is to ask them directly.

    1. That’s very true, Tom. Reminds me of QDD. For SERPs with multiple user intents they’ll happily show completely different types of content on the first page.

  76. I love Table of Content, it also helped me to rank for a lot of related keywords. You can get some magic results using TOC rightly.
    Also if you are compiling a list of anything, a simple table or a list (ordered or un-ordered) can help you get in Featured Snippet.

    Regards

  77. Awesome post as usual Brian. 🙂

    What direction would you take if the user intent isn’t very clear in the search results?

    For example, something like this:

    1st result: Amazon product page
    2nd result: Walmart product page

    3rd & 4th result: Amazon affiliate sites with product reviews for 2018

    5th result (my e-commerce website): The Ultimate Guide to Buying Widgets

    6-10th results: Product pages from Wayfair, sears, overstock, etc.


    My Ultimate Guide is around 10 years old and ranks for around 3000 keywords. So I’m wary of killing it and focusing on a single product page.

    What I’m leaning towards is making the page better (adding more videos, images, better content, go into more depth) and also testing title tags and descriptions to improve CTR.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Jonathan
    STW Student

    1. Good question there, Jonathan. With a SERP like that there are multiple user intents going on. Some are ready to buy (as evidenced by the product pages). Some are browsing (based on the review pages). So it looks like you have a user intent match. I’d just focus on making the page better, CTR etc.

  78. Hey Brian

    Awesome as always.

    You mention links are still needed to get you to the first page.

    Would you say that once you are on the first page the signals are now weighted more to user intent and ux signals? Due to the fact google can then analyse the click data.

    So maybe you can rank poor content with lots of links, but it will be short lived….but you can’t rank a page with out any links, no matter how good the user intent and ux is? Maybe unless the domain is super strong?

    Matt Cayless

    1. Thanks Matt. Links still have an affect on the page 1 results. It’s more that once you get to page 1 Google has more UX data to work with. Not so on pages 2, 3 etc.

  79. Great work! This had been actually puzzling me for a while (how google shows different “types” of websites for apparently similar searches) and the clarification on user intent (and how to detect it) just opened a knowledge portal in my head. Thanks!

  80. Great article. I run a large internet marketing company in LA and you’ve really nailed it. Much appreciated – these recent Google updates are giving us all nightmares, but this article is a breath of fresh air. A lot of competitors I’ve talked to have given up on SEO because it has become too complicated – but we refuse to give up – organic is still the best return for the money.

  81. Ridiculously comprehensive and valuable article, as usual, Brian.

    One thing that it brings to light is something I have noticed with all Keyword Difficulty tools on the market right now (and yeah, I’m speaking of all the “big boy” tools that cost $99/month or more).

    Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered that none of them are even close to accurate at predicting how hard any given keyword phrase will be to rank for. The reason, I contend, is that they are not able to factor in user metrics.

    There seems to be more and more correlative evidence that search intent and on-site experience are trumping even backlinks (your case study comes as close as any to proving that). A tool can’t measure that, which is why I believe that the competition metrics on all of them have become pretty much worthless. The excuse, “it’s better than nothing” just doesn’t cut it! The tool you use (your brain) seems to be far more reliable (as is almost always the case).

    1. Thanks Scott. You raise a really good point. Most keyword difficulty tools ONLY look at backlinks. They usually don’t even analyze on-page SEO factors.

  82. Hi Brian
    Thanks for a great article. I think you’re missing one thing in you user-intent graphic 😉
    Some of focus search terms has news coverage in the SERP. It’s informationel in nature, but both site urls and headline are clearly different.
    All the best. Soren

  83. Thank you, Brian. This is quite a comprehensive article. User intent is and should always be a priority. The day this dawned on me is the day I took U-turn.

  84. Great post Brian.

    Will be trying a few of these out for sure.

    Would be interested in reading more about your outreach strategies.

    Aiming to purchase SEO That Works but waiting on finance teams to purchase so may miss the close date.

  85. Hey Brian, your site is awesome. You’ve been a massive help for giving me direction and getting things moving along. I really appreciate the time you’ve put in making this easy to understand, you’re a great teacher!

    I’m a bit stuck on getting images for my site. I really like the illustrations you use, they would fit into my niche really well and I see others using them but I can’t seem to find them. I’ve looked on the stock images sites and fiverr but I can’t find the sort I’m looking for. (maybe I’m searching the wrong things?)

    Do you have any recommendations on where to source these type of images, please?

  86. Thank you, Brian, for this awesome article!

    I’ve been practicing your short sentence/paragraph techniques in the legal industry. Notably, attorneys enjoy writing a sentence for multiple stories. That’s their type of skyscraper technique 🙂

  87. Just a quick question, your article and comments don’t have a publish or post date. Is this for SEO reasons? If your post showed ‘Published on’ as opposed to ‘Updated on’ does it have an effect on Google or visitors psychologically? Perhaps he/she will think the info is outdated if it shows a date that is too ‘old’?

  88. Hi! Brian, excellent article from you as usual, and it’s awesome that Skyscraper technique 2.0 is not about link building, but about User Intent and it’s an On-Page technique…

    Thanks for great content,
    Mark

  89. This is a very, very insightful piece, but I am honestly also very overwhelmed with the information! Intent optimization seems to have been a game changer for you and I might try to get to the bottom of it in the upcoming weeks. Just the vision of time and effort that has to be invested is a bit scary!

    But this only proves once again that SEO is the king 🙂

    Also – kudos for the clear explanation of all your steps, I love the clarity in your posts!

    Keep it up.

  90. Hi Brian,

    Congratulations, it’s a really nice content.
    I was wondering if the correct grammar and spelling count towards negative or positive ranking. Especially for non-native English speakers (like myself).

    1. Thanks. Not really. As long as content is making users happy, you’re good. Obviously, spelling and grammar is part of that.

  91. Exactly what I was looking for… Thanks Brian for clearing my confusion…Have been to so many websites and videos on youtube who created this confusion in me…This is well arranged and explained…I am surely going to try this now and looking forward for more tips and tutorials from you.

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