What is the skyscraper content technique? The skyscraper technique is a content creation method for building high-quality backlinks. Skyscrapers are long-form evergreen content pages or assets, usually 1,500 words or more in length. A skyscraper targets a viable search term or trending topic, offering in-depth content that attracts traffic, shares, and backlinks.
Seventy-one percent of marketers want to drive more traffic to their website and 75 percent want to generate more quality leads. So, even with the incredible amount of content we are producing today, we still expect more from our efforts. And, we’re not alone — our competitors are thinking the same thing.
Creating content impulsively doesn’t work anymore. The time has come to zoom out, visualize how your content efforts support the greater brand experience.
Our content marketing hierarchy offers this vantage point. There are 11 content marketing levels, many of which we have covered in great detail and are linked below for you to explore on your own time.
“As the population density of urban areas has increased, so has the need for buildings that rise rather than spread.” The name skyscraper first came into use during the 1880s when the first skyscrapers were built in the United States. Content marketing isn’t quite that old, but the increasing density of content has challenged marketers to build differently.
When constructed well, skyscraper content can be a traffic magnet. Let’s discuss the skyscraper technique and how it supports your highest content marketing goals.
What is the skyscraper content technique?
The skyscraper technique is a content creation method for building high-quality backlinks. Skyscrapers are long-form evergreen content pages or assets, usually 1,500 words or more in length. A skyscraper targets a viable search term or trending topic, offering in-depth content that attracts traffic, shares, and backlinks.
Think of the vertical nature of a skyscraper building and you see the relation with the vertical scrolling required when reading skyscraper content. Skyscrapers can be high-performers in the realm of SEO, as Google values authoritative content.
In our content marketing hierarchy, skyscrapers are #8 out of the total 11 content levels. Skyscrapers are often confused with pillar content (#6) and content ladders (#7). All three of these content levels include long-form content.
The main difference is that skyscrapers are evergreen, with only periodic updates, and they can serve as standalone link-building pieces. Content ladders require more frequent updates. Pillars rely exclusively on sub-topic content creations for earning backlinks.
P.S. You’re standing in the shadows of one of our skyscrapers on The ClearVoice Blog, How to Define the 11 Content Levels of Your Brand Experience. This piece and all of the other content level pieces are linking back to this skyscraper.
How to build the strongest skyscraper
Can skyscraper content be a good investment? Yes. Can skyscrapers be a bad investment? Also, yes.
Skyscrapers are more labor-intensive than the average blog post or asset. After all, you’re constructing a high-rise, not a tiny house. You want to do everything in your power to make sure that effort pays off. Here are some ways to increase your chances of building the strongest skyscraper.
1. Find a substantial topic.
Skyscraper content should be big enough to command attention. When you envision a skyscraper in the real world, it’s substantial… something you marvel at. Your skyscraper topic needs to give off that “larger than life” feeling. Like a building, it should also stand the test of time by being evergreen content.
Research keyword phrases, topical trends, questions “people also ask” in Google, and check out your competitor’s high-ranking content.
Once you’ve performed this topical research, ask yourself these questions:
- Can we offer the best answer to this question?
- Does it help our buyer during their journey?
- Is this a topic we can run with for a while?
- Will we link back to this piece often?
- Will others want to link back too?
2. Produce a valuable long-form piece.
Creating valuable content is a given. But, skyscraper content should truly be the best your brand has to offer. Any time you ask your audience to read a long-form piece, know that it’s a big ask. People are busy and longer content like a skyscraper takes up more of their time. It’s not about the word count… it’s about providing useful information.
Finding a substantial topic in the previous step is a big part of driving value through your skyscraper content. The rest falls onto the content creator. Hire a writer who is experienced in long-form content. They thrive in high-word count environments and know how to keep audiences engaged from “the hook” to the conclusion.
3. Structure your skyscraper.
Skyscrapers used to be 10 stories and now they reach 163 stories. Content has come a long way and your skyscraper should reflect that evolution. Because your skyscraper has so much depth, develop a thoughtful structure so you avoid overpowering your audience with information.
Break up your written content with images and graphics, and incorporate lists and defined sections. Content with five lists per 500 words earns up to 4x more traffic and up to 2x more shares than content with no lists. And 36 percent of articles with H2 and H3 headers achieve higher performance in terms of traffic, shares, and backlinks.
4. Create a strong, supportive framework.
Your skyscraper is supported by a supportive framework… quality backlinks. When you build your skyscraper, make it link-worthy. The goal is to earn high-quality backlinks and become the authority on that topic.
One-up your competitors with a more in-depth version of a piece that is optimized with the same highly coveted keyword phrase. Or, produce a keyword-targeted overview piece with the intention of creating relevant sub-topics that all link to the top page (skyscraper). Even better? Use original data to create content that everyone wants to source and link back to.
5. Never stop building.
Do architects build once and never again? No. They make it their life’s mission to build better than anyone else and build something greater than they built before. You might set out to build a skyscraper and fail.
Maybe the keyword phrase was all wrong. So, why not retarget your keywords and rebuild the skyscraper? Keep experimenting with the skyscraper technique — continually develop new content and innovate.
2 branded examples of the skyscraper technique
Content marketers are using the skyscraper technique to increase website traffic as we speak. If executed well, skyscrapers become SEO stars. Data studies are one of the best candidates for skyscrapers because of their originality, superstructure, and magnetism.
Here are two traffic-driving branded examples to inspire your next skyscraper…
1. Skyscraper: B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks Report
We’ll start with an obvious one. Every year MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute unveil their epic skyscraper, the B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America. Citing this report is an industry-standard for marketers. Oh, just imagine the backlinks.
2. Skyscraper: Freelance Writer Rates Study
ClearVoice was always being asked the same question: How much should I pay for a freelance writer? So, they conducted a survey and built this skyscraper that includes a handy detailed infographic, Survey Results: How Much Should I Pay a Freelance Writer?
“We are creating a unique experience. It starts with how you see the building from a distance.” Take note from Chicago architect Helmut Jahn and see the immense potential of your skyscraper content.
You have the vision to achieve new heights with your content. Build something awe-inspiring — something others will appreciate, something that soars, something that will last.