Pioneered by Backlinko founder and SEO expert Brian Dean, the skyscraper link-building technique is one in which you steal your competitors’ organic backlinks using high-quality content.
It involves identifying your competitors’ top-linked content, followed by creating content that’s similar but better on your website, and then contacting the sources of your competitors’ backlinks to request your own backlink.
The idea behind the skyscraper link-building technique is that other webmasters who currently link to your competitors’ content may link to your content if it’s better. Most webmasters are selective regarding the content to which they link.
If a webmaster currently links to one of your competitor’s content, you might be able to compel him or her to link to your content, assuming it’s higher quality, instead.
Check out SEMrush for doing competitive research. It’s the tool I use here on this website for creating content.
The Benefits of Using the Skyscraper Link-Building Technique
While there are other ways to find and build high-quality backlinks, the skyscraper technique is arguably the most useful for SEO. It creates organic, one-way links that search engines love.
Webmasters want to provide their visitors with the best experience, so they may link to your website if the content is better than your competitors. Even if a webmaster rejects your request to replace a competitor’s backlink, the skyscraper technique can still drive new backlinks to your website.
Using this white-hat SEO tactic, you’ll improve the quality and quantity of your website’s content. Bloggers, social media influencers, and other webmasters may then voluntarily link to your website’s content, regardless of whether you contacted them.
Not only does the skyscraper create new, high-quality backlinks to your website; it removes backlinks to your competitors’ websites.– Lori Ballen
Your website’s backlink portfolio will expand, whereas your competitor’s backlink portfolio will contract.
Nearly all other link-building techniques only involve the creation of backlinks, making the skyscraper technique tower above the rest.
You can rest assured knowing neither Google nor Bing will penalize your website for using the skyscraper link-building technique. As a white-hat SEO tactic, it complies with search engines’ guidelines.
Identify Your Competitors’ Top-Linked Content
The first step in the skyscraper technique is to identify your competitors’ top-linked content.
Since you probably don’t have administrator access to your competitor’s websites, you won’t be able to view their Google Search Console (GSC) metrics. Nonetheless, other tools are available that can analyze your competitors’ websites and reveal their top-linked content.
SEMrush, for instance, can reveal which pages on your competitors’ websites have the most backlinks. When checking your competitors’ top-linked pages, you should generally ignore their homepage. Instead, look for content-rich sub-pages that you can recreate, as well as build upon, on your website.
Create Better Content on Your Website
After identifying your competitor’s top-linked content, you’ll need to create better content on the same topics to publish on your website. Don’t copy or even reword your competitors’ content. Rather, focus on creating new pieces of content that are longer, more thorough, and better optimized.
Here are some tips to one-up your competitor’s content:
• Strive for a higher word count than your competitors’ content.
• Create short sentences that are easy to read.
• Add relevant subheadings above sections of similar text.
• Use descriptive URLs consisting of page titles.
• Increase the font size of text content to at least 16 pixels.
• Embed relevant images with optimized alt text. For every paragraph or section of the text, include at least one image, video, or other rich media item. Consider using color varieties, quotes, and so forth as part of the mix. [I like Canva Pro].
• Enable comments so that visitors to your website can ask questions and share their opinions about your content.
• Add links to other pages on your website as well as other, non-competing websites. [Check out LinkWhisper for WordPress to add an internal (and external) linking strategy for each page or post!
• Use Google’s online testing tool at search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly to ensure your content is mobile-friendly.
Request the Replacement of Your Competitors’ Backlinks
Now it’s time to contact the webmasters who currently link to your competitor’s content and ask for a backlink to your content
Using an SEO tool like SEMrush look to see which websites link to your competitor’s content. After harvesting a list of backlink sources, visit the websites to see if there’s an opportunity for a skyscraper-built backlink.
If the link is used organically and contextually, you can proceed with the skyscraper technique by requesting a backlink.
You should be able to find either a contact form or a contact email address listed on most websites. Contact forms are a little more convenient since you can create and send your request directly on the website.
Regardless, you can send requests via your preferred email account if the website has a contact email address listed.
In your requests, explain that you came across the link while browsing the webmaster’s website and believe that your site’s content is a better destination for it. Be sure to mention the URL on which your content is published, If the webmaster believes your content is better, he or she may swap out the link.
If you’re unable to find a contact form or email address listed on a website, try searching for the name of the webmaster who runs the site.
Once you’ve found his or her name, use the hunter.io tool — or a similar email finder — to see if there’s a known email address for the webmaster. Hunter.io will check various databases for an email address associated with the webmaster.
Content is the structural building block for an effective SEO campaign. With the skyscraper technique, your content will rise above the rest, resulting in more b