Crank Your Blog’s Traffic by Harnessing the Skyscraper Technique
In 1676, Isaac Newton penned a letter to a friend and coined one of the most famous metaphors in the English language: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Andre the Giant.”
Well, it might not have been said exactly like that. But what Newton was saying is true: it’s way harder to start entirely from scratch than it is to start from where other awesome people left off.
The people who invented the PC couldn’t have done it without using a regular old television as a monitor. The guy who invented FM radio didn’t have to start entirely from scratch, because the AM radio already existed. And whoever invented the calzone had it easy—all they had to do was fold a pizza over and BOOM they were famous.
So why stress yourself out by starting from a blank slate every time you want to make great content that gets shared? That’s what the Skyscraper Technique is all about.
Follow these four steps of the Skyscraper Technique and you’ll get more people coming to find your awesome content. Here’s what you have to do.
Find Popular, Successful Content Based on your Topic
In order to stand on the shoulders of great content that other people have made, you have to track it down. And that’s not just noting which posts are at the top of a Google search page—there are a lot more places to determine what content is successful in order to build on top of it.
Reddit — From marketing to cats, there’s a Reddit category (called a “subreddit”) for everything. And there’s probably one for whatever your niche is.
To track down a subreddit for your niche, do a Google site search. And to find the most popular posts in a particular subreddit, click the “top” tab, then adjust your focus by filtering posts from a certain time period or to see the most popular posts of all time on that subreddit.
You know these posts are already popular—there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when these topics are already getting clicks!
Wikipedia — While it’s the go-to place to find information about the succession of French kings or obscure Czech artists, it’s not an obvious place to look for great content ideas. But hidden among the dry encyclopedic info, there’s a nugget of truth that’s not to be overlooked: the references.
To bolster their validity, each Wikipedia page requires references that cites where the information came from. Each one of these articles are popular and truthful enough to be considered citations—the perfect criteria for a popular article that could be improved upon.
Flippa — As one of the Internet’s most popular marketplaces, Flippa is a great place to go to buy and sell domains, whole websites and mobile apps. It’s also a great place to see what topics are popular in your niche.
Do an advanced search for listings that fit in your particular niche. Take note of which ones won and which ones didn’t—this is actionable info that can be converted to clicks.
Ahrefs — Ahrefs is a huge directory of links that updates every 15 minutes. Type in any site (say, Moz.com for an example) to find the most popular and most-shared pages on the site. Once you figure out what content and blog posts others are sharing and reading, it’s not hard to figure out what your next piece of content should be.
Moz Open Site Explorer — Moz’s Open Site Explorer shows you the authority of sites and pages on the web. First grab a competitor’s site and type in their url. Open Site Explorer spits out the page authority and domain authority of each page on the site. You’re looking for articles that have a high page authority and low domain authority—this is the sweet spot of articles that would be best to start from.
Produce Something Better Than That
So you’ve found the perfect article to make—a great topic that’s just itching for a great post to take over the search ranking. And you’re the one to make it. But how do you turn a successful (but mediocre) post by someone else into a great post of your own?
Try altering it these five ways:
- Update it: Pore through the links and statistics used in the post and find newer ones that can better bolster the argument.
- Make it More Thorough: Does the old article skim over high-level topics or important facets? Flesh out the parts that missed the mark.
- Design it better: Great imagery equals great results. If the post you’re updating has crummy imagery, take the time to improve it.
- Make it more concise: Is the other post too wordy? Boil it down to the finer points and cut out the fluff that isn’t necessary.
- Make it more useful: By adding actionable tips instead of overarching recommendations, the reader will find more benefit in it.
Get the Word Out
Ok, now you’ve got some great content. What now? Links are a big part of how you get content to rank on Google. So how do you get the word out and get others to link to it?
- Find likely linkers: Are there any people in your space that would be interested in this post? Drop them a line or send a tweet.
- Thank-you emails: Send an email to everyone who you linked to or mentioned in your article letting them know that you mentioned them. Chances are, they’ll be flattered, and chances are better that they’ll mention it to their friends.
- Forums: From AAAA to ZZ Top, there’s an online forum for everything out there. Try finding someone else looking for your solution on a forum, and drop a link to your article.
This step is simple: once you’re creating what works, do it again! Always keep tabs on your site’s analytics to see which blog posts are popular, which are converting and which provide the most relevant information for your visitors.