Skyscraper Technique: What it is + Best Practices

Adam Steele
Aug 17, 2022

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Are you struggling to build high-quality backlinks to your website?

If so, you’re definitely not alone. Backlink building is arguably the most difficult and time-consuming element of an effective approach to search engine optimization (SEO).

Never fear, though. There are backlink building techniques that will better your chances of securing backlinks from high-authority websites.

One of these is the skyscraper technique.

To help you implement the skyscraper technique, here we:

  • define what the skyscraper technique is,
  • explain how to use this technique effectively,
  • and detail its best practices.

What is the skyscraper technique?

The skyscraper technique is a content marketing strategy that aims to produce high-quality content in order to secure high-quality backlinks. In doing so, improving the rankings, reputation, and credibility of a website with search engine algorithms, readers, and fellow website owners within the targeted industry niche.

What is the purpose of the skyscraper technique?

The idea is to find a topic or article that has already been successful and then create something even better. This can be achieved by compiling data, adding new insights, or simply making the content more visually appealing. By doing this, you can attract links from other websites and improve your SEO ranking.

Honing in. This approach involves:

  1. identifying high-performing content on the search engine results pages (SERPs) that target keywords relevant to your own website’s niche,
  2. creating a way better version of the articles that capitalizes on their weak points,
  3. and then reaching out to the referring domains that are linking to the “inferior content” and requesting they link to your more comprehensive coverage of the topic.

The first two steps probably sound familiar, right? This is what most SEO writers and authors do when endeavoring to reach the highest heights of the SERPs: we take the strong points of already well-performing content, elaborate on them, and fill in any blanks that may exist.

So what’s different here?

The skyscraper technique’s true power lies in the third step – reaching out to publishers already linking to the high-performing (“inferior”) content you’ll use for reference.

Essentially, skyscraper articles are pieces of content that are longer and more in-depth than the average written piece. They are well-researched and heavily cited – all integral elements of high-quality content that publishers look out for when bolstering the credibility of their own content.

What’s the success rate?

This all sounds great in theory, but just how successful is this approach in the real world?

The architect of the skyscraper technique, Brian Dean, boasts some impressive results. Brian claims that after first implementing the skyscraper technique, the number of backlinks he received to the spruiked content “shot up like a rocket”. Not only that, but the organic search traffic of his entire website doubled as a result of skyscraping.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

To a degree.

The thing is, these results were recorded by Brian and his team way back in 2013, when the world of SEO was far less competitive. Additionally, Brian Dean, at least in the SEO world, is a household name. So when performing the third step of the strategy, there wouldn’t exist many marketers or authors within the space that didn’t know him already.

After all, fame comes with certain perks – securing high-quality backlinks being just one of them.

But what about your – compared to Brian Dean’s – relatively small to mid-sized blog? How well will the skyscraper technique perform for you?

Well, as with anything that pertains to SEO, that depends on your approach.

Does the skyscraper technique work?

Brian found that out of 160 emails, he received 17 backlinks or a success rate of 11%. Doesn’t sound great, but cold email outreach on average has a conversion rate of just 1%.

So certainly very impressive.

On the other hand, though, back in 2017, Olga Mykhoparkina, chief marketing office at Chanty, had a crack at the sky scraping technique. From 230 emails, her team received just 24 replies and zero backlinks.

Not great.

So, what are the differentiating factors between Brian’s success and Olga’s defeats?

If I’m being honest, it’s a touch hard to tell.

As mentioned above, Brian implemented the strategy back in 2013. Olga in 2017. Notably, Brian and Olga also both targeted different niches using different keywords. Brian, obviously, targeted the SEO niche using a keyword directed toward Google’s ranking factors. While Olga targeted the keyword “improve team communication” in a niche that isn’t related to the SEO world.

So what should we make of these varied results?

My main takeaway is this: if your outreach game is tight, the targeted keyword appropriate, and the niche you’re in isn’t overly competitive or full of marketers that swamp website owners’ inboxes with backlink pitches, the skyscraper technique can certainly help secure more high-quality backlinks to your content than you would receive naturally.

Most importantly, though, creating content that’s not widely covered on the SERPs and doesn’t appear to have to have been addressed comprehensively will give you the best chances of success when it comes to the skyscraper technique.

How to use the skyscraper technique (to get more links)

Okay. Let’s get to the crux of this topic: how to use the skyscraper technique effectively.

To do this, why don’t we take a dive deeper into the key elements of high-quality content that are sure to attract high-quality backlinks?

Starting with this question:

How do you write content of a skyscraper?

A great way to think about quality content is to consider this quote from Brian on the skyscraper technique: “Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself: “Wow, that’s amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is.” Of course not. It’s human nature to be attracted to the best. And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest “skyscraper” in your space… and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.”

Personally, I really like this analogy. It perfectly encapsulates how website owners, content marketers, and authors should think about quality content. You don’t just want to produce good content, you should instead aim to produce skyscraper content.

Content that’s fresh, super informative, and captivating to its audience.

Skyscraper Technique Best Practices

Zooming right in now. Let’s look at the best practices of the skyscraper technique.

1. Produce Content That’s Backlink-Worthy

If you want to produce high-quality content that will help you secure backlinks, then:

  • Make sure your content is high quality. This means well written content that includes supporting images and videos, and provides informative information. More so than the resources already ranking for the target topic.
  • Research your topic thoroughly. The more comprehensive your research, the more valuable it is to an audience, and the more likely other bloggers and website owners will be to link to your content.
  • Contribute something that’s unique. You should also focus on creating valuable content that is genuinely useful to your audience. Not just some replication that adds nothing of substance to the conversation.
  • Utilize effective on-page SEO tactics. Be sure to use strong keywords and optimize your content for search engines. Basic advice, but certainly no less important.

In terms of the skyscraper technique, you’ll want to focus on filling the gaps left by already high-performing content. Specifically, if the content you’re looking to best is outdated and, as a consequence, contains inaccurate information, this provides a good sticking point when pitching your fresh content.

Further, if you can collect insightful data and showcase it in a case study or meaningful way, you’re surely going to grab the attention of fellow website owners and marketers.

By following these tips, you can create high-quality content that will help you build valuable backlinks.

2. Get Your Name Out There

We can’t all be a Brian Dean, but that isn’t to say you and your brand can’t hold some amount of notoriety within an industry niche.

Why is this important?

You want to be recognizable. Ideally, when writing, authors want to provide their audience – and Google – with resources that are credible and reputable. So without some form of recognition, it’s going to be very difficult to convince other niche relevant websites to use your content as a resource.

What’s the easiest way to get your name out into the ether that is the internet?

Social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. This can include sharing your artwork, writing, or videos.

You can also use social media to connect with other people who share your interests and build a like-minded community that is interested in the content you produce. By creating engaging content, you can attract attention from people all over the internet. You can also use social media to promote your work and grow your audience.

If you don’t personally feel like getting in front of the camera, market your brand instead. Or hire the services of influencers or social media marketers.

By using these tools and resources, you can make a name for yourself on the internet and gain notoriety among your peers. That way, when you next produce content, your outreach efforts are sure to be much more effective.

3. Write Attention-Grabbing Outreach Emails

Okay. The most important element of the skyscraper technique – successful email outreach.

In order to get links from high-quality websites, you need to reach out to them and make a case for why they should link to you.

This can be a daunting task, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to securing backlinks from some of the top websites in your industry:

  • Make sure your website is up to par. Before reaching out to anyone, make sure your website is presentable, professional-looking, and user-friendly. This means having high-quality content, impressive design, and an optimized website for SEO.
  • Research the target website before reaching out. Make sure that your content is a good fit for the recipient. Sending emails to blogs that aren’t niche-relevant is only likely to hurt your website’s standings with your peers, so choose carefully.
  • Send personalized emails. Well established and high-authority websites receive backlink pitches all the time. So don’t be generic in your approach. Show you’ve done your research, understand your audience, and you are adding something of value to the conversation.
  • Keep your email brief and to the point. While personalized is nice, also be sure to cut to the chase. Don’t include too much information or overwhelming details, but instead be very clear and concise with your intentions. Nobody likes their time to be wasted.
  • If you follow up, do so with etiquette. Following up on email outreach is fine (and often expected), just be sure to do it in a way that’s respectful.

Most importantly, though, be respectful. Thank the recipient for their time and let them know how they can get in touch with you if they have any questions.

When it comes to email outreach, a touch of humility can go a long way.

4. Email Outreach Is a Numbers Game

If you took note of how many emails both Brian and Olga’s team sent out – 160 for Brian and 230 for Olga – to potential prospects, you can see that securing backlinks through the skyscraper technique takes more than just shooting out a few quick emails.

It can take sending hundreds or even thousands of emails.

This may seem daunting, but, thanks to email outreach tools, it doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as it sounds. Email outreach tool features like those from Saleshandy, Woodpecker, or Overloop can help streamline and even automate the email outreach process.

For instance, Saleshandy features an extensive template library, Woodpecker comes fitted with automated follow-ups, and Overloop has handy integrations that work with Salesforce, Zapier, and Slack.

These features and more can make the overwhelming task of cold emailing seemingly endless prospects far more bearable.

5. Develop a Solid Email Template

If you decide to go it on your own, without the help of an email outreach tool, or you simply wish to develop your own email templates, follow these steps when cold emailing:

  1. Find out as much as you can about the person or company you’re contacting, and personalize your message as much as possible. Generic messages are far less likely to get a response than those that are specifically tailored to the recipient.
  2. Next, directly mention and link to the post the prospect has on their blog linking to the article you’d like to outperform.
  3. Now, mention and link to the article you’d replicated.
  4. Then link to and mention that you’ve created a superior article that’s more up to date.
  5. And wrap it all up with the usual pleasantries.

If you’d like to see Brian Dean’s email template, here it is:

Ydkjemevrxw4he4zu1nnmtkhkx6nwy77y0fgdnmmcvvzgi0lmkatfyrhinickpvv8jpuecgg3xr1mnnuc5xe5smxl7ens2jbjm10c6ce227cvfvxdmwdvl8anrvmtsog0u6ejr 7vzgp4ln05q

Remember, just like Brian has here, keep your email short and sweet and your tone friendly and professional. You want to pique the recipient’s interest without overwhelming them with too much information at once.

Summary: Why is the skyscraper technique important for your website?

By creating an article that is skyscraper-worthy, you can position yourself as an authority in your field and attract backlinks from other high-quality websites. More importantly, the skyscraper technique can help you boost traffic to your website and improve your search engine rankings.

If you’d like more help with building high-quality backlinks from reputable referring domains, our team of experienced link builders can create high-quality links that will help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more visitors.

If you’d like to learn more, see our link building services here.

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

Explore Services

Written by Adam Steele on August 17, 2022

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.