Execute the Skyscraper Technique

Want to learn how to successfully use the “Skyscraper Technique” after hearing about it a lot? You are in the proper location.

Brian Dean disclosed a link-building technique he employed in 2015 that had an 11% success rate. Even his organic traffic increased in 14 days thanks to this strategy.

The Skyscraper Technique is what he named it.

And I believe it’s safe to say that it completely rocked the SEO industry:

In total, 1,820 different websites have linked to Brian Dean’s blog post about the skyscraper strategy.

Numerous marketers have since tested it. Some people successfully repeated the tactic. Others, well, they fell from the building and had less than ideal outcomes.

The Skyscraper Technique: Does it Work?

The strategy is like Schrodinger’s Cat—it both works and doesn’t work.

I’ll go over how to use the Skyscraper Technique to increase links to your website in this post. Additionally, I’ll offer some advice on how you can raise your chances of success.

What is the Skyscraper Technique?

When building links, the Skyscraper Technique recommends improving already-popular material and duplicating the backlinks.

Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

Find a relevant piece of content with lots of backlinks;

Create something way better;

Ask those linking to the original piece to link to your superior content instead.

Essentially, this tactic builds on the natural human tendency to be attracted to the best. Brian coined it the Skyscraper Technique because in his own words:

How to execute the Skyscraper Technique (+ case study)

On his brand-new website, RawResume.com, Dale Cudmore tested the Skyscraper Technique in 2017. (now defunct). This website was devoted to assisting users in creating a stronger résumé and locating employment.

6.5% of the 232 emails he sent resulted in links, or 15. (Really nice!)

Additionally, he naturally acquired a few links from Reddit and other blogs:

This is how he did it, and it is also how you can do it:

Step 1: Find relevant content with lots of backlinks

He discovered this article at https://resumegenius.com/how-to-write-a-resume.

Site Explorer shows that this content has earned 519 links overall from 186 different domains:

Actually, Dale came into this article when looking up keywords. However, that is not the most organized way to locate “skyscraper” chances.

These three methods will help you locate relevant pages with lots of links.

Use Site Explorer

Type a well-known website from your sector into Site Explorer. Pick one that has a reputation for publishing quality content.

Visit the Best by Links report next. This displays a list of the website pages with the highest “link authority,” with the list being sorted by referring domains, a “200 ok” filter added, and a language filter applied.

Resumegenius.com received a “Best by links” ranking on Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Any page that has more than 50 referring domains is typically a target.


When reading this report, disregard homepages and unrelated material.

Use Content Explorer

Use Content Explorer to enter a wide topic associated with your niche.

A searchable database of more than one billion online pages is called Content Explorer. It can be used to look up any word or phrase.

The minimum “Referring domains” filter should be set to 50 as you’re seeking for pages with a lot of backlinks. In order to only see pages in your chosen language, you may optionally add a language filter (in this case, English).

Use Keywords Explorer

Use Keywords Explorer to enter a wide term (such as “resume”), select a report (such as Phrase match), and set a minimum Keyword Difficulty filter of about 40.

The basis for this is that Ahrefs’s Keyword Difficulty score is determined by trimming the mean of referral domains (RDs) to the top 10 ranking pages at the moment. In other words, pages that rank highly for keywords with high Keyword Difficulty scores typically have a large number of backlinks.

To view the top-ranking pages, search for a relevant keyword and then choose the SERP dropdown. Look for one that has the ideal ratio of backlinks to “skyscrapability” (i.e., the opportunity to create something a lot better).

Ah, there! This is one

Step 2: Make something even better

Located the material you wish to dominate?

The next thing you should do is make something better. Make it epic by taking it to the next level.

Brian recommends you improve all four of these aspects:

Length. If the post lists 25 tips, beat it by listing more.

Freshness. Check to see if the article is outdated. Update it with newer images, screenshots, information, etc.;

Design. Content isn’t just about the words; its visual appeal matters too. Make sure the design stands out;

Depth. Don’t just list things out. Fill in the details and make it actionable.

That’s all good advice, but don’t fall into the trap of such doing things for the sake of doing them.

For instance, it wouldn’t be an enhancement to add 25 average suggestions to a list of 25 fantastic suggestions. Your new version may be longer, but you haven’t really added anything.

The same applies to other “improvements” as well.

It’s unlikely that adding a few cheap illustrations from Fiverr will significantly increase value. Making a more recent guide to, say, changing your car’s oil—a task that hasn’t changed all that much through the years—isn’t much better.

Conclusion: Always consider whether enhancing any of these factors actually adds value.

As a result, Dale spent 20 hours researching, writing, and formatting an epic guide on producing a decent CV, complete with a table of contents that allowed readers to swiftly go to the topics they were most interested in.

Step 3: Reach out to the right people

Email outreach is essential for the Skyscraper Technique to be used effectively. However, you go out to individuals who have previously linked to the specific article you improved rather than spamming every blogger you know.

They are more inclined to link to a better article since they have already connected to one that is similar, goes the theory.

Enter the original article’s URL into Site Explorer first, then select the Backlinks report.

The hyperlinks to the page are all displayed in this report. There are in this instance 222.

But not all of these connections will lead to promising outcomes. Some of them will be spam from directories and forums.

Let’s do some filtering to clean it up. In this example, I’ve added the filters for:

Language: English

Link type: Dofollow

Platform: Blogs

One link per domain

Backlinks report using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer for “how to build a fantastic resume”

35 potential candidates are still available.

For his target keyword, Dale also carried out the same action for the other top-ranking pages. The outcome was a list of 232 prospects to contact.


Additionally, Dale decided to only follow links coming from websites with a URL Rating (UR) of 5 or higher.

It’s time to send an email to your list of targets once you have it.

Here’s are the basic things to include in your outreach email:

Why you’re reaching out;

A link to your content;

Why it’s better than the content they currently link to;

CTA asking them to swap out the link.

You should also follow the outreach principles in this post to improve your chances of success.

The results (+ my thoughts)

Dale sent 232 emails, and 15 of them led to links—a success rate of 6.5%.

But did those links raise his position?

Here are Dale’s job’s performance ratings for the first six months:

It’s obvious that his ranks didn’t alter all that much. Why?

When Dale used the Skyscraper Technique, as seen by the graph of referring domains for this page in Site Explorer, it never went above 11 referring domains.

However, if we check Keywords Explorer’s Keyword Difficulty score for “how to write a nice resume,” we calculate that Dale would have need 66 backlinks to get in the top 10:

He probably never ranked because of this.

Dale concluded that his experiment was a failure because he was unable to rank for his intended keyword despite his best efforts. However, it was improbable that he would rank after sending 232 emails because he would have needed a conversion rate of at least 28% to meet Ahrefs’ estimated link criterion.

That was almost certainly not possible. He needed to have contacted 5–10 times more sites if he wanted to rank.

As you can see, Brian first described the Skyscraper Technique as a link-building tactic rather than a surefire ranking technique.

In that regard, Dale had great success with the method.

His conversion rate of 6.5% (emails to backlinks) was a respectable accomplishment.

Dale threw the baby out with the bathwater when he didn’t place. He ought to have been happy.

Since Brian first presented the approach a few years ago, it has, in all honesty, been overused. How may you raise your odds of success if you tried it out now?

How to improve your chances of success with the Skyscraper Technique

The Skyscraper Technique, like any other link-building tactic, is typically only a means to an end for most people.

To rank higher on Google and receive more traffic is the ultimate goal.

But unless your outreach is extremely successful, like we saw with Dale, that isn’t a given. Therefore, you need to set a goal for how many links you need before taking any action.

Here’s how you can do it:

Take the content you’re planning to “skyscraper”

Paste it into Site Explorer.

Go to the Organic Keywords report;

Look at the keyword that sends the most traffic to the page.

This is most likely the “head” keyword.

Next, check Keywords Explorer’s Keyword Difficulty (KD) ranking for that keyword. The anticipated number of referring domains required to rank in the top 10 is provided here.


You will require even more links if you wish to break the top 3.

But how can the skyscraper strategy—or any outreach-based technique, for that matter—improve your odds of reaching this link threshold?

Well, there are only two ways:

Increase your conversion rate;

Reach out to more people.

(If you can do both, then you’re really onto a winner.)

What is the best way to get more of your prospects to link to you? And how can you expand your audience without using spam?

1. Send personalized outreach emails

In Brian’s original post, he suggested using an email template that goes something like this:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

[generic compliment]

It links to this post: http://post2

I made something better: http://post3

Please swap out the link for mine.

Unfortunately, a lot of SEOs choose to utilize a copy of this exact email for outreach.

Now, there’s a good possibility that if a website owner recognizes this template, they’ll delete it without reading.

Use another template if you wish to successfully gather links these days through “skyscraper” outreach. Write your own, personalize it as much as you can, and adhere to the above-mentioned principles of outreach.

(Just so you know, “personalization” entails more than a mail merge with [FIRST NAME]!)

If you do that, you’ll start seeing responses like these:

2. Segment your prospects

Sending the identical pitch to everyone makes little sense because people link for various reasons.

I get what you’re thinking, though: “But I don’t have time to send each and every person a completely unique email!

That’s okay because you are not required to.

As an alternative, you may separate your list of prospects based on the context of their links.

The Anchors report in Site Explorer is the ideal place to look for common link contexts.

Here, we can see that 12 people link using the phrase “tweak your CV for each chance,” and 22 people use the anchor text “how to write a resume that stands out.”

So let’s send those first 22 people a pitch to the effect of:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

It links to this: http://post2

That has some great tips on creating resumes that stand out.

I just wrote this: http://post3

It has even more tips for creating a standout resume.

CTA: Might be worth adding the link to the page?

Then we’ll send the other 12 people the same pitch, but swap out points #3 and #5:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

It links to this: http://post2

That has some great tips on how tweaking resumes for best results.

I just wrote this: http://post3

It has even more tips on adjusting your resume for each opportunity.

CTA: Might be worth adding the link to the page?

This is a simple illustration of the idea, though. Sam Oh goes into further detail about how to send such emails at scale in this video, which I recommend watching:

3. Find more prospects from top-ranking pages

It’s shortsighted to limit yourself to replicating the backlinks of one piece of content.

Do a quick Google search for “how to write a resume,” and you’ll see 400 million results, many of which:

Have backlinks;

Are almost certainly inferior to your “skyscraper” post.

Links from some of these posts and pages can also be duplicated by you. This is how:

Look at the SERP Overview after entering your target keyword in the Keywords Explorer.

In this instance, it appears that the majority of the top-ranking pages have a ton of links.

In fact, there are 775 prospective customers when we add up all of these top-ranking pages’ referring domains.

Checking whether your content is superior to any of those pages is the only thing left to do.

If so, you’ve just discovered a new group of potential customers.


Looking for more potential customers? Employ Content Explorer.

You can find a lot of relevant pages by searching for your keyword and applying a referring domains filter (such as 50+), from which you can extract even more “skyscraper” prospects.

132 pages on preparing a resume are included here, each with at least 50 referring domains.

Do the arithmetic, and you’ll find another 6,600 possible customers!

4. Reach out to those who link to outdated, low-quality content

Nobody enjoys directing people to stale resources.

The opportunity is there: locate these out-of-date materials and convince website owners to replace the link with your fresh “skyscraper” content.

Sam Oh will demonstrate how to do this for you here:

Basics are as follows:

First, enter your target keyword into Content Explorer. Set some filters, so you are looking at only old, low-quality content with lots of links. In this case, we set:

date filter to find content published a while ago;

referring domains filter to find content with links;

content length filter to find less-thorough (and presumably “lower-quality”) articles.

Check each of these results for outdated or potentially misleading information.

Found something? You now have a perfect pitch that is likely to convert well, and it goes something like this:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

It links to this: http://post2

Great post, but some of the information is outdated. In particular […]

I just wrote this: http://post3

It’s a more up-to-date guide about ______

CTA: Might be worth swapping out the link?

Final thoughts

The Skyscraper Technique is a legitimate link building tactic that works, but only if you:

Reach out to enough people;

Have a well-crafted pitch;

Have top-notch content;

However, don’t count on any one strategy to boost your ranks over night. That’s improbable.

Success in SEO depends on a number of variables, including your industry, rivals, money, time, and resources, among others.

Never rely on just one strategy; try out a few and see which ones perform best for your company.

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