The latest (and greatest) Link Building strategy: The Skyscraper Technique

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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The harsh truth about link building is that there are way too many people in the internet marketing industry that think great content is enough. You can publish great stuff (and you should) but that doesn’t mean people will naturally link to you. Generating high quality links means being very systematic with how you create and promote content. The technique presented in this article is definitely one to give a try; it’s called skyscraper because it shares the same logic, people always prefer the best of the best (highest of the high). For those of you who are looking for a solid strategy that will increase search traffic and get your content out there, I highly suggest you keep reading.

First thing’s first: Webster’s dictionary defines link building as…it doesn’t actually. The lack of a standard definition has led to some confusion within the industry itself but overall it’s about going out of your way to find great reliable links, to then get better backlinks for your site. Do not confuse inbound marketing with link building, however, because they are not synonymous. Inbound marketing has ambitions beyond building links and aims to disseminate a brand message and link building is a crucial component to a comprehensive inbound marketing campaign. While inbound marketing and link building are not the same, they definitely complement each other nicely. A recent survey found that 80 percent of companies engaged in SEO are spending more than $1,000 a month on link building.

Although awesome content makes link building easier, it’s just the first step. Luckily, there’s a technique that almost guarantees that you get high quality links from every piece of content published. It recently resulted in one of several successful case studies, such as the Viral Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors in One Day. The Skyscraper Technique (inbound marketing for link builders), if done right, can increase organic search traffic for your entire site. And no, you don’t need a Fortune 500 marketing budget or connections with well-known bloggers to implement it.

There are 3 steps to the Skyscraper technique:

  1. Find Top Performing Link-Worthy Content Related To Your Industry
  • My suggestion would be to use a great social search engine called Topsy for finding content ideas that can provide you with a conclusive list of some of the most popular content for a given set of keywords. Below is a search for content marketing, where you can easily see the top content from the last few hours, days, or even all-time. This is a great way to find some new blog post ideas.

The results can be listed based on the number of times it has been linked to, or how often they have been shared on social media. The key is to dig deeper by narrowing search to content that has performed well because of a high number of links. This will show the content that your readers will most likely link to.

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  1. Create Better Content (Make Something Even Better) 
  • Next step is to take an audit of the content that is performing the best. This will help you improve your own content by understanding what makes up a top post. Click through a few of the links on your Topsy search results (or any reliable search engine). Focus on: 

o   Common themes

o   Average content length (word count tool)

o   Number of pages

o   Specific keywords/phrases used (word frequency counter)

It’s not so much about scientific data but rather taking the time to analyse/research content that did acquire traffic.

  • After the audit, take your findings and make something better than everyone else on the list. Maybe:

o   Make your content longer

o   Add images, videos

o   Dig deeper, research interesting facts about the topic

o   Bring it up-to-date 

  1. Reach Out To The Right People And Get Them To Link To Your Content

This step is usually the hardest, and even though there’s always the option to promote it on social media, there’s another more “back-end” strategy, or golden tip as I’d like to call it.  It’s e-mail outreach but with a twist (not just link begging), instead of emailing random people in your industry, reach out to site owners that have already linked out to similar content, in three steps: 

Step 1 – Find sites or resources that have changed names, shut down, or moved. This means keeping an eye out for sites in your industry that rebrand or change names. Do a quick search for “rebrands as” (most businesses announce their name change using a press release) in PRWeb, or just use Google News.

Step 2 – Find sites linking to the old page.

Step 3 – Give them a heads up about their outdated link, suggest your own recent one, and most will respond with gratitude for helping them update their site. Win-win.

Although it takes hard work to create something great, with this strategy you already know ahead of time that your hard work will pay off because you’re not just casting a fishing rod hoping to catch something, it’s about doing some background research to build consistent high quality links, traffic, and reach out to those who will thank you for your investigation by linking you. Check out some other great basic link building tactics here.

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