If you don’t know this guy’s face, you probably haven’t been doing SEO for very long:
That’s Brian Dean — the guy who invented the Skyscraper Technique back in 2013.
It was one of those great moments in SEO. When everything comes together and a new SEO strategy takes the internet by storm.
Brian put forward a new link-building strategy, complete with a catchy name and some real results to back it up.
But to be honest with you, I’m not convinced that the Skyscraper Technique is the best link building strategy. Not in 2023, anyway.
I’ll pause for a moment while the whole SEO world finishes its collective gasp. If you have pearls, feel free to clutch them now.
Done? All right — here’s what I mean:
The Skyscraper Technique CAN be effective. But in most cases, it’s pretty clunky. It’s not a good use of the very limited time most of us have.
The fact that the technique asks you to create great content is fantastic. But is that really enough to build links at the scale you need to truly compete?
Nah. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know this:
If you’re carrying your entire link building strategy on the back of the Skyscraper Technique your head is right up there in the clouds with the skyscrapers.
At best, it’s a supplement to a well-rounded link building strategy. And with that in mind, it’s probably worth writing about.
So, here you go: Read on for everything you need to know about the Skyscraper Technique.
The Skyscraper Technique is a link building strategy. It’s simple: You find content in your niche that has lots of backlinks and create something even better. Then, you ask those who are linking to the other content to link to your improved version of that content.
It sounds simple. But it was pretty innovative when Brian Dean wrote a blog post about it back in 2013.
It took the online marketing world by storm. Since that date, Brian’s blog post has amassed more than 13,000 backlinks from more than 3,200 referring domains (individual websites linking to the post).
That tells you something about how popular this idea became.
So, what’s my issue with the Skyscraper Technique?
For one thing, everybody is doing it. It was so popular shortly after Brian invented it that it became the leading link building method basically overnight.
I did it. We all did. People spent all day sending out emails like this:
I just finished reading your incredible article about dietary supplements. Great stuff. But I noticed you’re linking to https://competitorsite.com/article-you-spoofed-and-improved-upon.
Problem is that this isn’t the best resource to share with your audience, unless your audience is a bunch of morons. Instead, why not link to this super awesome complete guide my team just published?
You can read it here: https://mysite.com/my-better-version-of-the-same-article”
It worked pretty well. So it was worth it. But it only worked so well because it was brand new.
Before long, publishers started to get wise to these emails. Many began to understand that this was just a link building technique and nothing more.
That means they started ignoring the emails.
And those who still aren’t aware of this tactic are still less responsive than they used to be. Publishers just have less time than they used to. So they’re unlikely to take time to read your article, assess its quality, and actually replace a link on their site.
So, the Skyscraper Technique of today is much less effective than the Skyscraper Technique of 2013. And when you NEED backlinks in order for your SEO to be successful, that’s not OK.
Does that mean you shouldn’t do the Skyscraper Technique at all?
Of course not. You should do it. As a SUPPLEMENT to your base link building strategy. We’ll get into how to fit the technique into your overall link building approach later on.
But first …
I could do the Skyscraper Technique in my sleep. That’s for two reasons:
So, I’m going to teach you how to do it. But let me be clear:
This is not an endorsement of this technique as the cornerstone of your link building efforts. It’s an explanation of how you can supplement your bread-and-butter link building efforts.
With that, let’s get into the Skyscraper Technique steps:
Here’s a little more on each step:
Let’s say you run a personal injury law firm. Here’s how you’d find content in your niche with lots of backlinks.
Google your core keywords — the keywords you’d most like to rank for.
Take the competitor content that appears on the first page of Google and pop it into your SEO tool of choice. Could be Ahrefs, Semrush, etc.
Check that the content does, indeed, have a lot of backlinks:
Now, read the content. Think about:
That last bullet point is key. You need to go into more depth than the competitor content.
Now, create content that is ACTUALLY better than the content you identified in step one.
That could mean expanding ideas, adding more images and videos, quoting experts, creating interactive assets, making it more readable, and so on.
In all likelihood, it will mean some combination of those things.
Take your time. Build something you’re proud of.
Then, when you’re SURE it’s better than the competition, publish it on your site.
Now, head back to your SEO tool of choice. Remember when we looked at the number of backlinks the weaker content had?
Now, click on the referring domains part of the tool interface:
You’ll see a list of all of the sites linking to that weaker piece of competitor content. Export them into a spreadsheet.
With your list of referring domains in hand, start going down the list and reaching out to every single site.
Reminder: This is a humongous pain. It’s labor-intensive and doesn’t guarantee any links. So, if you’re dead set on doing the Skyscraper Technique, buckle up.
You’ll need to find a contact email for each site. Look for the person most likely to be in charge of the website’s content and making changes to it.
Then, email them. But put some thought into your pitch email.
For one thing, you’ll need to write an original pitch for every single site. If you’re sending hundreds of basically duplicated emails, you could trigger some email deliverability problems.
In other, simpler words:
If you send more or less the same email to every site, all of your outreach emails could end up wasting away in spam folders.
I’m happy to help you get started with this Skyscraper Technique email pitch template (but remember to customize it every time you send it):
I was reading this awesome article on your site and noticed an issue:
[URL OF ARTICLE]
You link to [WEAKER COMPETITOR CONTENT URL] in the article. And that resource is on topic, but it’s not the best source to share because [THE CONTENT IS OUTDATED, IT DOESN’T TALK ABOUT ‘X’, ETC.].
I think it would be a lot better to share this source instead:
[URL OF YOUR NEW, INCREDIBLE CONTENT]
If you like the article, your readers will probably appreciate you linking to it in your article. Would you add the link?
Either way, thanks for creating all this awesome content!
Fire that off, but don’t forget to follow up. I like to follow up within three business days, again after a week, and then two weeks after that. You can set your own schedule, of course.
Most of the time, you won’t get a response. Others will tell you to stop emailing them.
But every now and then, you’ll get a lovely response from someone who just added a backlink to your site to their article And that’s the whole point.
As you can see, the Skyscraper Technique requires some fairly considerable labor. That’s why I’m not sold on it in 2023.
Because there are no guarantees. And website owners have NEVER been more likely to ignore Skyscraper outreach emails than they are right now.
In other words, if you’re looking to waste a bit of time and maybe grab a link or two, go all-in on the Skyscraper Technique.
But if you’re more serious about your backlink strategy, incorporate Skyscraper into your list of tactics. But don’t make it the main course.
So, what should be the main course?
Blogger outreach and link insertions. Done the right way. (Not the spammy way.)
This is the only way to truly scale your link building efforts. And when you’re acquiring new links at a satisfactory pace, you can use spare time to try out some Skyscraper outreach.
And let me clarify a little: The Skyscraper Technique is awesome. Anything that gets you great backlinks is awesome.
But I’m just saying there are better ways. It’s not the ONLY strategy, and it’s not the most effective strategy anymore, either.
You’re reading about the Skyscraper Technique because you’re interested in building more backlinks. You’re in the right place.
We won’t do the Skyscraper outreach for you. But Uppercut SEO WILL acquire incredible, high-traffic, high-authority, and niche-relevant backlinks for you. At the scale you need.
And if you’re interested in trying out some Skyscraper outreach, we’re more than happy to create incredible content so you can use it.
The point: We’ll get you the links and content you need. So you can dominate the Google rankings for keywords that will actually move the needle for your business.
That’s the bottom line, after all. Reach out when you’re ready to get it done.