Skyscraper SEO Technique: Do or Don’t?


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looking up at several very tall buildings on a sunny day

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies have changed a fair amount over time. Long before the skyscraper technique, search engine optimizers and digital marketers could achieve high rankings on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) by using black hat keyword strategies.

Paid links and spamming services and locations without real context dominated search rankings. In our evolved marketing world, Google can now focus on its mission of pleasing the user.

The search engine actively encourages white hat ranking strategies such as natural link building and producing informative inbound content.

That’s where the skyscraper technique comes in. It’s the marriage of meritorious link building strategy and compelling content creation.

When you’re ready for help with Skyscraper SEO, our friends at Romain Berg are a full-service digital marketing agency with-ahem-”construction experience”.

Contact them today to build the skyscraper website that will attract more traffic and increase conversions.

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Keep up to date on the latest trends and marketing strategies to give your business an edge!

What is the Skyscraper SEO Technique?

Brian Dean of Backlinko invented the skyscraper SEO technique. After famously using this strategy to double his website traffic , Dean detailed his approach and applied it repeatedly, with success, for his clients.

Dean labeled it “The Skyscraper Technique” after the way people marvel at the world’s most massive structures — yes, only the tallest ones, not the sixth, seventh, or eighth-tallest buildings. The tallest one makes you go “wow.”

The Skyscraper Technique is an SEO research and content creation framework that aims to make your site the tallest “skyscraper” on the internet. Like a skyscraper, you become the one everyone is talking about.

SEO skyscraper building is about being bigger, better, newer, more interesting, more relevant, than the other websites out there on your topic.

How Do You Deploy the Skyscraper SEO Technique?

The skyscraper SEO technique involves four steps in content planning and creation:

Someone typing something into a search bar to do keyword research for the skyscraper SEO technique.

1. Select Your Keyword

There’s an art to getting the right keywords for high search rank. Your intention in choosing a specific type of keyword matters, such as ranking through inbound content.

If you’re creating a long-form think piece, you’re likely going for rank and branding. So, think about what keywords also make your brand look best.

Your keyword should be:

  • Relevant to your business and the interests of your customers
  • Valuable in terms of traffic (or dollar value, as ranked by tools like SEMrush, which displays the cost of advertising with that keyword)
  • Applicable to the buyer stage you hope to reach. Are you ready to invest a lot of money or time in creating content for top-of-funnel mailing list subscriptions? If not, you need a more focused keyword to capture only late-stage buyers.
  • Something you can create engaging content about: if it’s not appealing to your audience, it’s probably not worth doing.

2. Analyze the Top Ranking Content For Your Chosen Keyword

Once you’ve selected a keyword, it’s time to take a look at the competition.

You can use a few different tools to do this, such as ahrefs, SEMrush, AnswerThePublic, and Google itself.

Here’s what you should ask when you analyze and evaluate the content:

  • Do your content competitors match up with the competition trying to outsell or outperform you?
  • Are these brands relevant to your industry, product, or service?
  • Honestly: do you have the resources and skill to create better content than these ranked results?
  • What content or questions that users in your industry might want is missing from these results?

As you can tell, selecting keywords for your content requires more than pure analysis. It means having a competitive spirit, knowing your industry, and adding enthusiasm and heart into your strategy.

3. Create Better Content Than the Existing Ranking Results

While Google has its algorithm, ultimately users decide what’s the best website for their needs (as long as they can find the content, to begin with).

You need to write for the user, which is what Google prefers anyway. Writing “better content” could mean a lot of things, including:

  • Content that a native speaker of your target language writes
  • Results with better metadata, making it more enticing for the user to click on your site in the SERP
  • More visually appealing content, Including more embedded photos and videos to break up the text
  • Writing with short, digestible paragraphs that readers prefer to read online
  • Numbered or bullet-point lists and clear step-by-step instructions
  • Clear solutions, and easy to accomplish CTAs (calls-to-action)
  • Content with more relevant, appropriate links than the competing post or posts
  • More evidence, such as statistics, math, science, or personal experience
  • Content that uses intuitive industry-centric instincts and knowledge to predict future lines of inquiry
  • Updated information that is more current than competing posts
  • Quotes from experts, with outbound links to their own sit 4. Check Your Backlinks and Do Outreach

4. Check Your Backlinks and Do Outreach

Head into ahrefs or SEMrush after your content has been live for a few weeks. Check the other sites linking to yours — and identify new opportunities for backlinking using these tools.

Reach out to these potential opportunities asking them for a link to your expert content. This will increase your ranking, especially if those linking to your content are a page or two behind you on the Google SERP.

These inbound content strategies can help you spot weaknesses in other content—and areas of improvement for your own. Advise your writer to focus on these qualities if you’re not creating the content directly yourself.

Again, the other vital component here is ‘heart.’ Are you genuinely enthusiastic about the topic? Are you an expert here?

These qualities must shine through in the content: not in a competitive way, but in a tone that addresses the reader (usually your potential customer). Readers can tell immediately if the content is genuine or bloated marketing-speak.

Disaster: When Skyscraper Strategies Fail

A magnifying glass with with crumbled pieces of yellow post-it notes around it and a post it note reading "search".

When skyscraper wins, it wins big, as Brian Dean has shown. But what happens when it doesn’t work very well at all?

Olga Mykhoparkina of Chanty detailed a big skyscraper failure at Search Engine Journal. Mykhoparkina attributed her team’s failure to several conditions:

  • Selecting the wrong keyword: Maybe you’ve just picked an inefficient keyword or one that really isn’t catchy. This was the case for Mykhoparkina and her team.
  • Being an unknown: If SEO superstar Neil Patel emails you and asks you to link to his content, you’ll take notice (and you’ll agree). After all, that’s Neil. Freaking. Patel. If a junior account manager at a new agency sends an email to a site asking for a backlink, it’s more likely that the recipient won’t notice it (and won’t care to). That’s just the way it works.
  • Outreach failure: This goes along with being an unknown. If you’re not famous, you need to work harder to get noticed or consider another channel for communication. Try interacting with someone in a marketing Twitter chat before pitching them via email.

Marketing writer Dale Cudmore experienced a similar skyscraper technique failure, and he learned two important things from his lack of success:

  • Case study bias is real: we hear more about technique successes than we do about failures. Most experts don’t want to tout their failures.
  • Starting from somewhere is important: Being a low-traffic unknown makes it tough to not only get noticed (as mentioned in the Chanty experience above) but to rank at all. Google is less likely to rank an unknown newbie than a website full of prior search engine success.

Skyscraper fails can result in lost revenue. The Chanty team spent dozens of hours researching, creating, analyzing, and marketing the content.

Plus, they spent days reaching out for backlinks, resulting in zero total backlinks. Chanty ate the cost, but not all small businesses are in a place where they can take that kind of risk and rebound from the failure.

Size Matters: Skyscraper and Small Business

Before you create skyscraper content, begin with this question: are you in a place to sink 50+ hours creating and marketing unique material that might fall flat?

Fifty hours is a small investment of time if your sales double; it’s not so great if it results in few or no sales.

Even if you’re a solopreneur (especially if you are!), you need to consider the value of your time heavily.

The best way to save money on this skyscraper strategy is to outsource your content. However, you don’t want to go with the cheapest option.

Skyscraper content has to be high quality, written by native English speakers with a real grasp for your industry and subject matter. Consider who you choose to partner with carefully.

Hint: We love the content producers at Romain Berg. They emphasize brand voice discovery and utilization and feature a free proprietary AI business personality analysis as part of their content creation service.

Adaptable Skyscraper Strategies

A compass with an arrow pointing towards strategy.

Digital marketers often discuss the skyscraper technique and big wins for large businesses. You can also deploy it properly for small companies, especially those occupying a niche and using long-tail keywords and phrases.

These high-value, low competition keywords are a bit easier to rank for—and using the skyscraper technique makes that ranking all the more achievable. If you’re able to take the risk, it can be a real boon for your small business.

Our advice? Focus on those long-tail keywords and make sure they’re exceptionally relevant. And whether you go with skyscraper SEO or not, be sure to use high-quality, keyword-focused inbound content with your own brand voice.

Assess Your Readiness for Skyscraper Technique: Call the Experts

Ready to grow your business through digital marketing solutions? Choose a firm like Romain Berg.

They are prepared to evaluate your business and work with your budget to produce an effective inbound content strategy—whether that includes using the skyscraper technique or not.

When it comes to SEO, a smart strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Like your business, it’s unique.

With the right help, your SEO strategy will reliably increase your traffic, and help you convert those visitors to customers that stay and play for seasons to come.

About the Author

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

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