The SEO Project

The Skyscraper Technique

Joshua HardwickJoshua Hardwick

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

— Brian Dean (Backlinko.com)

That’s why the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa) attracts almost 2 million visitors per year:

burj-khalifa

The Skyscraper Technique (coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko.com) is a content-driven link building technique that takes advantage of this.

Here’s how to do it:

 

Step #1: Find an Existing “Proven Linkable Asset”

A “proven linkable asset” is a piece of content that has already performed well and generated a tonne of links.

It could be a blog post; video; web-app (e.g. an online calculator); or any other form of content.

Or, to put it simply:

“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 it]”

— Brian Dean (Backlinko.com)

Here’s an example of a “proven linkable asset” in the SEO niche:

moz-web-developers-cheat-sheet

According to Ahrefs, it has 10,000+ links from over 1,100 referring domains:

web-dev-cheat-sheet-links

Here are three ways to find “proven linkable assets” in your niche:

 

  1. Reverse Engineer a Popular Site (with Ahrefs)

Find a popular site in your industry (one that publishes a lot of great content).

Copy the domain (e.g. moz.com).

Go to Ahrefs Site Explorer and paste the URL:

ahrefs-moz

Select “Best by Links” under “Pages” in the left-hand sidebar:

moz-ahrefs-best-by-links

Now, you should see a list of all the pages on the domain ordered by number of backlinks (highest to lowest):

moz-top-content

Note down any pages with at least 50 links (RD column) – these are proven linkable assets.

 

Go to BuzzSumo.com.

Enter a keyword related to your niche (e.g. “link building”):

buzzsumo-link-building

Click “Go”.

You should now see a list of the most shared content in your niche over the past year:

buzzsumo-shared

Select “Export” > “CSV” to download a .csv file containing all the pages:

buzzsumo-export

Open the .csv file using Microsoft Excel (paid) or Google Sheets (free).

Copy the first 200 URLs.

Go to Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool and paste the (200) URLs:

ahrefs-batch-link-building

Click “Start Analysis”.

You should now see a list of the 200 URLs alongside various metrics, including Referring Domains (i.e. backlinks):

ahrefs-batch-skyscraper

Click “Export” to download the data as a .csv file:

ahrefs-export

Open the .csv file using Microsoft Excel (paid) or Google Sheets (free).

Delete all columns except for “Target” (i.e. page URLs) and “Domains (desc)” (i.e. referring domains).

Remove all URLs with fewer than 50 referring domains – these are your “proven linkable assets”.

 

Download and open Simple SERP Scraper (free)

Change “Number of Results” to “100”:

serpscraper-100

Enter a keyword related to your niche (e.g. “link building”) in the “Search Queries” box:

serpscraper-query

Click “Scrape”.

When the “scrape” is complete, open the exported .csv file (using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets).

Copy all 100 of the URLs.

Paste them into Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool:

ahrefs-batch-2

Click “Start Analysis”.

You should now see a list of the 100 URLs alongside various metrics, including Referring Domains (i.e. backlinks):

Click “Export” to download the data as a .csv file:

ahrefs-export

Open the .csv file using Microsoft Excel (paid) or Google Sheets (free).

Delete all columns except for “Target” (i.e. page URLs) and “Domains (desc)” (i.e. referring domains):

domains-desc

Remove all URLs with fewer than 50 referring domains:

under-da-50

All the URLs left are your “proven linkable assets”:

 

Step #2: Make an Improved Version

Open your spreadsheet from step #1.

Add a new column to the right named “Yes?”:

yes-column

Sift through the results one-by-one looking for a page that you could significantly improve by:

If a page fits the bill, write “Yes” alongside the URL in the “Yes?” column:

yes-columns

Note: Ideally, you would improve the content on every level, but at the absolute minimum, you MUST improve it in at least one of the ways listed above.

When you’re done, choose the piece of content that you personally feel has the most room for improvement – this will be your “skyscraper” content.

Now, create an improved version and publish it on your site.

 

Step #3: Tell the right people about it

Now you’ve got your “skyscraper” content, you need to get proactive and promote it.

It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean mass-mailing a random bunch of people.

Doing that is not only super-annoying (and sometimes illegal) but also a complete waste of your time, as you’ll get very few (if any) responses.

Instead, you should reach out ONLY to people that fulfil the following criteria:

Here’s how to find these people:

Go to Ahrefs Site Explorer and paste in the URL of the content on which you based your new and improved “skyscraper” content:

site-explorer-point-blank

Select “Backlinks” from the left-hand menu:

backlinks-ahrefs

Select “Export” > “CSV” to export all of the links pointing to that content.

Open your .csv file (using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets).

Remove any websites that don’t make sense to contact, such as: directories; forums; etc.

Reach out to the remaining sites using this template:

“Hey [NAME],

I was just reading your post about [TOPIC] and noticed you linked to this page: [INSERT LINK]

Just wanted to let you know that I just published an updated, more in-depth version of this page.

Here it is: [INSERT LINK]

Might make a nice addition to the page?

[YOUR NAME]”

Comments 10
  • Suprabhat
    Posted on

    Suprabhat Suprabhat

    Reply Author

    Awesome read. A nice way to re-fuel your website and content .


    • Joshua Hardwick
      Posted on

      Joshua Hardwick Joshua Hardwick

      Reply Author

      Good to hear it was useful, Suprabhat! I’d recommend checking out the full post on Backlinko for more detail! (just google “skyscraper technique” and it’s the first result).


  • rajum
    Posted on

    rajum rajum

    Reply Author

    I Learned lot of From This Post. Very interesting. 🙂


  • Archana Kukreti
    Posted on

    Archana Kukreti Archana Kukreti

    Reply Author

    Wow!! Great Article man. I know this technique but never got an elaborated article. Thanx for this post, will try this Skyscraper Technique for my new blog. Thanx a lot 🙂


    • Joshua Hardwick
      Posted on

      Joshua Hardwick Joshua Hardwick

      Reply Author

      No problem, Archana – let me know how it goes! 🙂


  • Ninna Lauridsen
    Posted on

    Ninna Lauridsen Ninna Lauridsen

    Reply Author

    Thanks for a great post! Would you say a paid account on Ahrefs is a must have to have success with this technique?


    • Joshua Hardwick
      Posted on

      Joshua Hardwick Joshua Hardwick

      Reply Author

      Not exactly, but you will need access to some kind of backlink checker in order to extract the backlinks for a particular page/site.

      Personally, I use Ahrefs for this (I feel it’s the best), but you could also use Moz (i.e. Open Site Explorer), Majestic, or any of the others.

      Most of them have a free trial available, so if you’re giving this a go for the first time, it shouldn’t cost you anything 🙂


  • Neil Maycock
    Posted on

    Neil Maycock Neil Maycock

    Reply Author

    Putting in practice now mate. Using your technique as a walkthrough. Let’s see how it goes but this was so easy to follow