Search engine optimisation, or SEO, involves various techniques that help a website perform well in search engine results pages (SERPs). Businesses often use it alongside other digital marketing strategies for better results.
Getting on the first page of a Google search gives businesses a significant advantage over their competition. For one thing, it helps boost conversion rates and brand authority for startups, small businesses, and large brands.
Even more importantly, most online shoppers use search engines to find products and services to buy. As of November 2022, Google processes over 100,000 searches per second. So, the benefits of appearing on the first page of SERPs are clear.
The skyscraper technique is a popular SEO strategy that has proven effective for some companies. However, mistakes in implementing this approach could cause it to backfire.
This post will outline the skyscraper technique, how it works, and what mistakes you should avoid when using it.
The skyscraper technique is a search engine optimisation strategy used in content marketing. To improve Google rankings and increase organic traffic to a website, marketers improve on an existing high-quality content piece with specific keywords while replicating its backlinks.
It was coined and popularised by Brian Dean of Backlinko. Several years ago, he published a link-building case study that would later become the skyscraper technique.
"...marketers improve on an existing high-quality content piece with specific keywords while replicating its backlinks."
In the case study, he defined the steps that increased his search traffic by 110 percent in two weeks. In fact, the first post on which he used the skyscraper technique drove over two million referral visitors to his site.
After Brian Dean's initial case study, other content marketing experts soon started to introduce the skyscraper technique in their SEO strategies. Some have seen success, while others didn't do so well.
This SEO plan can be incredibly effective when done right. But there are mistakes you can make that will torpedo your efforts. Working with SEO experts and agencies can help you fine-tune your approach. But if you’re planning to go it alone, outlined below are some reasons why the skyscraper technique fails so you can avoid being tripped up by making these errors.
"But there are mistakes you can make that will torpedo your efforts."
Keyword research is critical to any good SEO strategy, and the skyscraper technique is no exception.
Although the official tutorial for the skyscraper technique focuses on link building by finding link-worthy content, skipping keyword research could hurt your marketing strategy.
You may find a piece of content with plenty of backlinks. But they may not get enough traffic if they don't use keywords effectively or only focus on low-search-volume keywords.
"...skipping keyword research could hurt your marketing strategy."
Of course, organic traffic isn't the only metric of SEO campaign success. Some might want to target low-volume keywords or write for a niche audience. Using long-tail keywords with low search volumes can still be an effective strategy for some businesses.
However, if you want more traffic, it's best to perform keyword research to find and use the best-performing keywords for your industry.
For quality content to perform well, it's essential to analyse and understand the search intent for each search term. You might be too focused on outdoing your competitors that you lose sight of your target audience.
Search engine algorithms heavily consider search intent (also known as user intent) as one of their ranking factors. After all, search engines aim to satisfy the searcher's needs. Google emphasises this principle in the latest version of its Search Quality Rater Guidelines.
"Search engine algorithms heavily consider search intent...as one of their ranking factors."
Knowing what your audience is looking for enables you to create relevant content that addresses their needs.
People are more likely to click on and spend time on a web page that addresses their intent. For this reason, understanding and fulfilling search intent can also boost your Google rankings.
"...understanding and fulfilling search intent can also boost your Google rankings."
Notable bloggers like Neil Patel have preached about the merits of using long-form content. After all, it does have several strengths. In particular, it can help you target several keywords related to a particular topic without the risk of keyword stuffing.
Comprehensive guides can be beneficial and have a better chance of addressing user intent. Most authoritative posts are often long-form due to the breadth of their coverage.
"Comprehensive guides can be beneficial and have a better chance of addressing user intent."
However, there is such a thing as going too far. Different types of written content (e.g., guides, listicles, how-tos) work best with specific word counts. Furthermore, different types of content can also perform better than the long-form type, such as infographics.
Readers could lose interest if your blog post becomes too long for the type of content you aim for. This negative effect is compounded if you use huge chunks of text and fail to format your content appropriately.
To keep your content appropriate for your industry, look at existing pieces in your chosen topic. How long is the average article or post? This number can give you a baseline word count to reference.
"...look at existing pieces in your chosen topic...This number can give you a baseline word count to reference."
Quality content and website design put the user experience at the forefront. Your audience must be able to navigate through your content and website comfortably without any exertion.
You may have a high-quality, well-written piece of content. However, readers could click away from your site if it's not formatted correctly or contains too many distractions. High bounce rates can cause problems for your website, especially if you work in ecommerce.
"Your audience must be able to navigate through your content and website comfortably without any exertion."
Large blocks of text, long or improperly formatted tables, and too many images can all negatively affect the user experience. Keyword stuffing, or using specific keywords in awkward or inappropriate places, can also harm your SEO rankings.
If you're making long-form content, break it up and give readers room to breathe. Use headers, bullet points, infographics, and plenty of white space on the page to make reading your post a more pleasant experience.
"If you're making long-form content, break it up and give readers room to breathe."
Now that you know what could go wrong when using this content strategy, here's how to use the skyscraper technique right. There are three main steps: finding relevant content, improving it, and reaching out for quality backlinks.
The first step to the skyscraper SEO technique is to find a proven linkable asset. A linkable asset is a piece of great content that has already generated several links.
"...find a proven linkable asset."
Make sure to be discerning as well. Using a quality, well-researched, authoritative post as a reference is much better than a generic listicle. SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can help you filter through dozens of possible candidates.
The next step is to take this linkable asset and analyse it. How can you make it better?
Did they use the right keywords and search terms? Are there gaps in the topics it covered? Is it too outdated, or has new information come out since it was published? Are its anchor text and meta description well-optimised?
An easy way to improve an existing article is to take its general idea and make it longer. For example, if it's a listicle about five tips for using Google Search Console, write an article with ten tips.
"Are there gaps in the topics it covered?"
Another way to improve the linkable asset is to update it. Facts, statistics, and trends often change over time. An updated version would make your article more relevant to your current target audience.
You can also make your article more thorough than the original. Expand on ideas your reference may not have explored as well as you'd like. Use trusted sources and sites with high domain authority within your niche.
The last step to successfully executing the skyscraper technique is email outreach.
If you're afraid of coming across as spammy, you don't have to be. You don't need to send email requests to every blogger or news site you see. You can reach out to your existing networks for recommendations. Social media platforms like LinkedIn can help lead you to the right people.
"You don't need to send email requests to every blogger or news site you see."
You can also do a little research and find sites that have already linked to content similar to yours. Using email templates during this stage can help save you time and ensure your text looks professional.
This step can increase your chances of getting quality backlinks or even a guest post. They've already linked to similar content; why not yours?
When executed well, the skyscraper technique can help even a small business or startup reach key performance indicator metrics and other goals, such as improving their conversion rate or their position on search engine results pages.
"When executed well, the skyscraper technique can help even a small business or startup reach key performance indicator metrics..."
However, you can use several other SEO strategies instead of or alongside the skyscraper technique. Exploring your options and experimenting with different methods can help you tailor a content strategy that suits your business needs.
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