Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days

Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days

Here’s the brutal truth about link building:

There are WAY too many people in internet marketing today that think “great content” is enough.

They say, “if I publish great stuff, people will naturally link to me”.

If only it were that easy…

If you’re serious about getting high quality links, you need to be very systematic with how you create and promote your content.

Otherwise you’re taking the “cooked spaghetti approach” to SEO: throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall and hoping something sticks.

Well today I’m going to show you a technique that almost guarantees that you get high quality links from every piece of content that you publish.

Keep reading to learn how…

The Skyscraper Technique: (Content Marketing for Link Builders)

On April 18th I published Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List.

After executing “The Skyscraper Technique“, the number of backlinks to that page shot up like a rocket:

Referring Domains Ahrefs

More importantly, organic search traffic to my entire site — not just that post — doubled in just 14 days:

organic traffic increase google analytics

As a nice bonus, that single post has driven more than 300,000 referral visitors to my site so far.

total traffic to a page

The best part?

You can do the same thing for your site…even if you don’t have a Fortune 500 marketing budget or connections with influential bloggers. 

The 3-Steps to Using “The Skyscraper Technique” To Get Quality Links and Targeted Traffic

There are 3 steps to The Skyscraper Technique.

And I go over all of them in this short-and-sweet video:

Like I mentioned in the video above, here are the 3-steps that make up The Skyscraper Technique:

Step 1: Find link-worthy content

Step 2: Make something even better

Step 3: Reach out to the right people

Here’s why this technique works so well (and what it has to do with a skyscraper):

Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself:

“Wow, that’s amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is.”

Of course not.

It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.

And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest “skyscraper” in your space…and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.

All of a sudden YOU have the content that everyone wants to talk about (and link to).

Now: The Skyscraper Technique is just one of many strategies that I use to land first page Google rankings. I reveal the others in my premium business training course, SEO That Works.

Step #1: Find Proven Linkable Assets

A linkable asset is the foundation of any successful link-focused content marketing campaign (including this one).

I’m not sure who coined the phrase “Linkable Asset”, but it’s the perfect description of what you want to create: a high-value page that you can leverage for links over and over again.

Keep in mind that linkable asset is not “12 Things Spider Man Taught Me About Social Media Marketing” link bait nonsense.

It’s content so awesome, so incredible, and so useful that people can’t help but login to their WordPress dashboard and add a link to your site.

But how do you know if your linkable asset is going to be a huge success…or a total flop?

That’s easy: find content that’s already generated a ton of links.

Here’s how:


Now it’s time for step 2…

Step #2: Make Something Even Better

Your next step is to take what’s out there and blow it out of the water.

Here’s how you can take existing content to the next level:

Make It Longer

In some cases, publishing an article that’s simply longer or includes more items will do the trick.

If you find a link magnet with a title like “50 Healthy Snack Ideas”, publish a list of 150 (or even 500).

In my case,  I decided to list all 200 ranking factors…or die trying.

The first 50 were a breeze. 50-100 were really hard. 100-150 were really, really hard. And 150-200 were damn near impossible.

It took 10 gallons of coffee and 20 hours of sitting in front of my laptop (don’t worry, I took bathroom breaks)…

…but in the end, I had something that was clearly better than anything else out there.

More Up-To-Date

If you can take an out of date piece of content and spruce it up, you’ve got yourself a winner.

For example, most of the other ranking factor lists were sorely outdated and lacked important ranking factors, like social signals:

Outdated Content

If you find something with old information, create something that covers many of the same points…but update it with cutting-edge content.

Better Designed

Sometimes, a visually stunning piece of content can generate a lot more links and social shares than something similar on an ugly page.

Just check out Help Scout’s Customer Acquisition Strategies for Entrepreneurs:

Content Curation

This guide is a curated list of links to other internet marketing sites.

And the page has generated a lot of buzz because it’s beautifully designed.

For my guide, I added a nice banner at the top:

custom banner

More Thorough

Most lists posts are just a bland list of bullet points without any meaty content that people can actually use.

But if you add a bit of depth for each item on your list, you have yourself a list post that’s MUCH more valuable.

In my case I noticed that the other ranking factor lists lacked references and detail:

Low DetailSo I made sure each and every point on my list had a brief description (with a reference):

ranking factors post

Important Note: I recommend that you beat the existing content on every level: length, design, current information etc.

This will make it objectively clear that YOU have the better piece of content.

Which is really important when you start getting the word out…

Step #3: Reach Out to The Right People

Email outreach is the linchpin of the Skyscraper Technique.

It’s similar to straight up link begging, but with a VERY important twist.

Instead of emailing random people, you’re reaching out to site owners that have already linked out to similar content.

When you qualify prospects like this, you know that:

1. They run a site in your niche.

2. They’re interested in your topic.

3. They’ve already linked to an article on that topic.

Now it’s just a matter of giving them a friendly heads up about your clearly superior content.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Use to export all of the links pointing to your competitor’s content into a spreadsheet. Tools like Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer will also work.

ahrefs export

2. Weed out referring pages that don’t make sense to contact (forums, article directories etc.).  In my case, after cleaning up the list, I had 160 very solid prospects to reach out to.

3. I emailed all 160 of them using this template:

skyscraper technique outreach template

(I obviously personalized and tweaked this template for everyone I reached out to).

Even I was shocked at the overwhelmingly positive response:

Email Response

Out of 160 emails I landed 17 links: an 11% success rate.

Considering that these were cold emails that asked for a link in the first email, an 11% success rate is pretty amazing.

You may be thinking, “17 links, that’s it?”.

But remember it’s about quality, not quantity.

There were a lot of gems in that group of 17 links.

Besides, just look at the meteoric rise in organic traffic that those 17 links got me (in a very short time period, no less).

Obviously there were a few links to that page that came organically, but some of the best were from The Skyscraper Technique.

Now You Try It

I hope you can see the potential of The Skyscraper Technique for your site and your business.

Yes, it takes hard work to create something great.

But with this strategy you already know ahead of time that your hard work is going to pay off (unlike pumping out reams of content hoping that something goes viral).

    1. You’re always welcome to hang out here, Terry! I really appreciate all of your support from day 1. See you at Traffic Planet!

  1. Hi Brian,
    1- I have to disagree with your example about spaghetti, as “marketing” by its nature is the process of trying out things. Some work, some don’t. We learn from our experience and mine what works, weeding out what doesn’t. Marketing is endless, you can always do more.

    2 – I’d like to see an example of content marketing/link building that is NOT in the SEO/online marketing niche. Could you provide us with a sample of something from a client of yours in a totally unrelated niche? Take us through each step, document your results (in terms of traffic and links). Share the time it takes you, the challenges you faced. Drop me a line when you do, I’d love to see it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your insights, Mike. You’re 100% right: marketing is about experimenting and testing. But I like to experiment within a proven framework. I’m actually working on a case study that outlines The Skyscraper Technique in a non-IM niche. I’ll definitely give you a heads up when it goes live.

  2. Hi Brian,
    I have been a member of your site/email newsletter for a few weeks now (found you via Neil Patel). I am finding your posts very valuable! And this post in particular has given me a great idea!!

    1. Happy to hear that, Josh. The Skyscraper Technique might be my favorite link building strategy of all time because it works so incredibly well. Thanks for reading.

  3. Good stuff Brian. i actually stumbled across your 200 ranking factor post previous to reading this post – awesome stuff!
    I’m currently trying to adopt the technique for two of our clients, one is in the office refurbishment industry and the other in the hotel linen trade. I’m stuck with the office refurbishment client but have an idea for the hotel linen client: Something along the lines of “How to promote your Hotel, Guesthouse or B&B online”. It will contain lists of sites that feature hotels (i.e. expedia,etc), lists of UK awards for hotels, lists of marketing ideas for small hotels (i.e. local radio, website, local paper, local complimentary businesses, etc) and sites they should get added to so they gain reviews (Trip Advisor, etc). Do you think it’s a good idea Brian? Thanks 🙂

    1. That idea sounds PERFECT, Anthony. In addition to other hotel blogs, you can also reach out to travel sites (where a lot of hoteliers hang out) and get them to link to your new guide.

  4. Awesome tips here, Brian! I’m going to try your technique this week. Curious, though— how many emails do you send at once? Do you send them BCC, or send each one individually?

  5. Hi Brian. I created a post called 101+ Sources for Blog Content Ideas on my blog (Small Business Ideas Blog) and used this method and got about the same response rate. Another cool thing I noticed was a good increase in social shares.

    My question is how do you evaluate which sites to email? In other words, do you look for a high level of engagement, overall site traffic, etc? Or just email everyone? Definitely a fan of your blog, by the way.

    1. Hey Brian. That’s awesome that you tried it out for yourself and saw real results. For this campaign I emailed people who had already linked to similar content. In your case I’d find popular posts on the topic of finding blog ideas, reverse engineer their links using ahrefs, and then reaching out to them.

      1. Thanks Brian. I actually used Scrapebox instead. What I did was search Google for “blog ideas” and then got the backlinks from the top sites. I have some ideas for future topics that I think will do better. I’ll let you know if I have a good case study for you one day 🙂

        1. Ahh nice. Scrapebox FTW! Thanks again for sharing the success you’ve had with the Skyscraper Technique, Brian.

  6. I wish I could use this methoed,my website in arabic and thier not a great number of peopel who will shair my like … they weill copy my content without refaring to me …. i wish you can talk about better raking for new websites


    1. This can actually be used on a new website as well, Mohammad. Also, I’m sure with the right outreach you can find people who are willing to link to your content without stealing it.

  7. Brian, this is a great a tip and I am sure it works. 11+% conversion rate sounds good enough to me.
    However it also feels like going into a pricing war where everyone lose in the end. We web marketers now have to give more and more and more for free in order to win. Isn’t there a better way? :/

    1. That’s a fair point, Jerry: the freemium bar is definitely getting higher and higher all the time.

      It’s like an arms race right now. Personally, I like it when things get more challenging and resource-intensive: it raises the barrier to entry which leaves more market share for me 🙂

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