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The Skyscraper Link Building Technique in 3 Steps
Create linkable content and boost search traffic with SEO PowerSuite

By: Inessa Bokhan
November 1, 2016

I bet you've heard about the Skyscraper link building technique a thousand times, but have you actually tried it? If you've been neglecting this method all this time but want to give it a try, you'll find today's post really useful. You're about to discover if the Skyscraper tactic is worth your time and effort and how you can optimize the workflow using SEO PowerSuite tools. Let's begin.

Here's what Skyscraper link building is in a nutshell

The Skyscraper technique is about finding popular content, creating even better copy, and therefore getting backlinks both naturally and after reaching out to the right people. That's exactly how skyscrapers become popular — you take the highest existing building, add a few more floors and voila — everybody's talking and writing about you.

Fortunately, you won't need to hire a huge team of engineers and builders to create your Skyscraper post. Just grab a cup of tea and let's get started!

Step 1: Find link-worthy content

The first step in any Skyscraper campaign is to find some relevant pages with lots of backlinks. I'm sure you know your top key phrases (and if not, it's high time to do some thorough keyword research). A simple Google search for your main key phrase will bring you the first content ideas to toy with:

But how do you know which of these top results have the biggest number of backlinks? Obviously, you need to check the pages using some backlink research tools. As promised, I'll show how to manage that using SEO PowerSuite tools.

Check pages for backlinks in SEO SpyGlass

Fire up SEO SpyGlass, go to File > New Project: Expert Options > Create numerous projects and paste the URLs you need to analyze for backlinks:

Click Next, choose SEO PowerSuite Link Explorer, and let the software collect pages' backlinks. SEO SpyGlass will automatically create multiple projects for the specified web pages, so when the check is finished, you'll be able to switch between the results using the project drop-down project menu:

Look through the backlink data and you'll quickly spot the winners.

Analyze high-ranking content in Rank Tracker

If you're managing keywords in Rank Tracker, all you need to do to find content with lots of backlinks is open your project, switch to the Keyword Map dashboard and click on the Keyword Difficulty tab. Here, you'll see the top ranking pages together with the main SEO factors analyzed — the number of pages' backlinks included:

Find content with the most shares using WebSite Auditor

Do you want to find content that also became popular on social media? You can do it with WebSite Auditor's Pages dashboard.

First, you'd need to launch WebSite Auditor and create a project for the site you'd like to find popular posts on, e.g., a competitor's site. Note that it'll probably be more useful to create the project for a specific directory or subdomain on the site, such as www.website.com/blog or blog.website.com.

After the tool collects the site's URLs, switch to the Pages module and click on the Social Media workspace tab. Press the Update factors button, pick the Social media factors and press Next.

And that's it — you now have a list of the most shared posts of your competitor. Handy, right?

With the 3 tactics above, you should be able to put up a list of pages that managed to get a lot of traffic, backlinks, and social media shares; we can refer to these pages as "linkable assets."

Please keep in mind that linkable assets are not always in-depth articles, they can be a viral video, a popular infographic, a free online app, etc. So if you're not really into copywriting, choose the option that better fits your skill level and experience.

Okay, there's something you can start working on, which brings us to the second step.

Step 2: Revamp the content

Again we talk content, huh? I know it does sound obvious, but yes, you have to create awesome content to get those valuable links you need. The good thing is that you don't have to start from scratch — you already have a list of good ideas, you just need to rework them into something new, something bigger, something people would love to link to!

Here's how you can get started.

Check how accurate the information in the posts is

Look through the information in the popular articles you've listed:

  • Are there any discrepancies in the text?
  • Is it possible to find more up-to-date research studies to link to?
  • Do you have the expertise to correct any misinformation you've found?

Now, you don't have to be overly creative to earn a link this way. Just be more precise than the previous authors, correct the mistakes and collect the trending statistics.

When GeekWire.com published a post on how to watch March Madness games for free, Eric Branther, the Senior contributing writer from CutCableToday.com, spotted a few discrepancies and published a post with the revised information. After that, he shared his post with the writer at GeekWire, and as a result, he received a link from a highly-visited resource just by being more precise:

Create a longer, more detailed post

You've found no discrepancies in the posts, but can you add anything to the ideas expressed previously? You can add more examples, case studies, videos, images, infographics, links, slides, quotes, and what not!

Just how detailed a resume guide can be? Take a look at this post's outline:

Whatever niche you're working with, there's always some extra stuff that doesn't get (fully) covered by your competitors.

Work on outstanding page design

Sometimes all it takes to win more links is to stand out from the crowd — by making your posts visually appealing and different. Your options could range from simply adding great illustrations to reworking a piece into a video or infographic — whichever one you choose, make sure that the result is witty, memorable, and original.

One great example is Search Engine Land's periodic table of SEO success factors. It's definitely not new content – but it's a new (witty, memorable, and original) way of looking at an otherwise unoriginal topic.

Change the style and sprinkle in emotion appeals

What makes people care (at least as much as to share your content around and want to link to it)? It all depends on the industry you're in, but there's one component in the "caring" formula that never fails — feeling. Studies show that emotional undertones strongly correlate with content popularity. Emotions like anxiety, awe, and anger are most frequently associated with viral content.

Analyze the tone of the copy you're working on, and think of the emotion that'll work for this kind of content.

To draw attention to a great cause, ASPCA took emotional persuasion on a completely new level with one of their ad campaigns.

You can see more (seriously emotional) ads from that campaign here. It's stunning on every level, but perhaps the best takeaway from this campaign is that the emotion doesn't have to be positive to be effective. Instead, it has to make you care.

Step 3: Contact the right people to ask for links

Ready with your brilliant post? It's time to put the final part of the Skyscraper tactic into action.

Go back to SEO SpyGlass, and for every project you have created for the best-performing content, go to the Linking Domains dashboard and copy (or export) the linking domains.

Fire up LinkAssistant, create a project for your site, and click Add. Next, paste the domains you just copied from SEO SpyGlass:

At the next step, the app will automatically find the contact email addresses on these sites. That's how simple it is to create a link prospecting list!

Finally, you can contact webmasters and bloggers to ask if they could link to your new post. Things to bear in mind before you rush to send out hundreds of emails:

1. Reach out to people whose websites are relevant to your niche.
2. Try to be personal — if you've communicated before, make sure to mention that.
3. Always be polite.

You can either send out emails using your webmail provider, or directly from LinkAssistant (you'll need to add your email account in Preferences > Email management > Email client settings). Once your account is synced with LinkAssistant, all you need to do is hit the Email button. Need ideas for your outreach email copy? Take a look at these:

Brian Dean shared his email copy he sent out 160 times and received really good results:

Hey [Name],

I was searching for some articles about [Your topic] today and I came across this page: [URL]

I noticed that you linked to one of my favorite articles -- [Article Title]

Just wanted to give you a heads up that I created a similar. It's like [Name of the article], but more thorough and up to date: [URL]

Might be worth a mention on your page.

Either way, keep up the awesome work!

Cheers,
[Your name]

Here's the text David Vallance used for his Skyscraper link building experiment:

Hey [Full Name],

I was checking out some of your articles at [Website Name] today and found this page: [Linking Domain].

I noticed that you linked to one of my favourite articles ever: Bootstrap Bay's 17 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Stock Photography. I absolutely love that article — it's made my blogging life so much easier.

But I thought it could be better. I mean, 14 sites is good but it misses out so many excellent resources. I set out to make something better: The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photography Sites (40+ Websites).

It's like Christopher Gimmer's article on Bootstrap but a bit more up-to-date and packed with a load more sites. You may want to consider linking to my article from your page.

Thanks for your time and I'll see you around!

You can compose your own text variation and save it as an email template in LinkAssistant.


And that's it! After you get the replies, don't forget to send a "thank you" note and update your backlinks and traffic to check the results in a month or two.

Now it's your turn to speak up! Have you tried the Skyscraper method or are you planning to implement it? Please share your thoughts and views in the comments below.

By: Inessa Bokhan

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