The Importance of Backlinks for SEO & The Skyscraper Technique
Whether you’re brand new to search engine optimization or consider yourself an SEO expert, you’ve likely heard of backlinks. Backlinks are one of the main contributing factors in Google’s ranking algorithm. Since its inception, the algorithm has advanced to a point where it concerns itself more with the quality of backlinks as opposed to the pure quantity of these links.
Due to these consistent and rapid advancements of Googles algorithm, the landscape of SEO and link building is always changing, and today, the importance of building high-quality links has never been greater.
So why is it that so many website owners and SEO professionals struggle with this task? Either they simply don’t know how to build high-quality backlinks, or they understand the process but think it’s too much work.
How Google Collects Data to Determine Search Engine Rankings
In order to better understand why backlinks are important, we must first understand how Google reviews content across the internet and positions pages to answer users’ queries.
Google crawls pages to index the information and then inputs this information into its algorithm to calculate and promulgate search engine rankings. It’s important to remember that Google doesn’t care about selling your products/services or helping you reach as many people as you can with content. Google’s concern is about providing the best possible answer to their users’ queries, in effect providing Google users with an optimal digital experience.
Because Google typically uses spiders and not people to index content, it relies heavily on data points to reach its ranking conclusions. Through this process, Google makes decisions about pages and their abilities or qualities to rank for any given keyword. When the algorithm is interpreting the data generated from indexing, Google doesn’t simply look at the content on the page and how many times a keyword is mentioned—they also dig into user metrics on a page (e.g. bounce rate, pages per session), analyze the number of links pointing to the site and the quality of the external sites that have decided to link their users to any given page.
Why Backlinks Are Important to Search Engines & Websites
There are two main ways that search engines like to use links, and two main ways in which links are valuable to a website:
Benefits of Backlinks for Search Engines:
- To discover new web pages
- To help determine Search Engine rankings
Benefits of Backlinks for Websites:
- To rank well on Search Engine result pages
- To drive a new channel of traffic to their domain (Increase authority)
Google’s ability to utilize links as a ranking factor is a key reason it was able to dominate the search engine market in the late 1990s, and they have worked diligently to enhance this capability ever since.
Let’s think about this another way. Imagine that you and your family recently relocated to a new state and you’re searching for a new CPA. You’ve identified three potential candidates and are doing your best to discern which is going to be the best choice based on the following information:
- Candidate #1 has been in business for 20 years, works out of a nice building and has advertisements all over town.
- Candidate #2 has been in practice for 8 years, but you can’t find anyone who has worked with him and you’ve never seen an advertisement for his services. You found out about him because someone in line at the grocery store said he was great.
- Candidate #3 has only been in business for three years, but was referred to you by your well-known real estate agent, a supervisor at your new job and the trusted local lawyer you just hired.
Who would you pick and why? Most of us would select candidate #3, because we assign more value to referrals from trusted sources.
Google looks at backlinks the same way. While the algorithm was previously unable to determine the difference in value between a random referral (person at the grocery store) and a more trusted source (your trusted lawyer or real estate agent), it now has the capability to assign scores to these factors and use them in the algorithm accordingly.
Google effectually counts these links as votes of confidence in a page. The more respected Google considers the originator of that “vote” to be, the more value it will provide to the resulting page. Furthermore, the theory is that when an authoritative site links to another website, they are saying it’s a valuable resource that can provide information to their own users; otherwise they wouldn’t link to it, much the same way you wouldn’t send a friend to a bad CPA.
The Skyscraper Link-Building Technique
As a website owner, understanding the importance of backlinks is a great first step; but even seasoned digital marketing professionals and SEO experts may underestimate the skills and effort required to earn high-quality backlinks.
But here’s the good news: while earning quality backlinks from authoritative sites can be a tedious task, the steps are straightforward and repeatable.
The Skyscraper Technique involves just three core steps:
- Findinglink-worthy content
- Creatingsomething better
- Sharingwhat you’ve created with the right people
The Skyscraper Technique is a simple process of finding good content and making it even better. The term “skyscraper” is intended to compare the technique to the race to build the world’s tallest skyscraper—it’s unlikely you or anyone else cares about the fifth or sixth tallest building in the world is, you only care which is the tallest. And the same goes for content—when you know which of your competitors are ranking first and setting the bar for good content, you can systematically work towards making your own content even better.
How effective is this technique? According to Brian Dean, when he implemented the Skyscraper Technique for the first time, he increased his search traffic by 110% in just 14 days.
1. Finding the Best Link-Worthy Content
Identifying and finding link-worthy content that is relevant to your keyword strategy is the foundation of every link building effort. Brian Dean uses the term “Linkable Asset” and explains it as the “the perfect description of what you want to create: a high-value page that you can leverage for links over and over again.”
This is the content ranking first on search engines for the topic or keyword ranking you’re targeting. This content is not link bait, it’s the high-quality, engaging and informative content that earns links from users and websites.
Identifying content that’s already performing optimally on Google and has generated a lot of links is the most efficient way to set a benchmark for future content. You can find this content by performing a simple Google search, or using tools like Buzzsumo, which analyzes what content performs best for a given topic or competitor across the web, or Harowhich, which helps promote content once it’s created.
2. Creating Something Better
Now that you’ve identified the best content to “skyscrape,” the responsibility shifts from identifying and analyzing to creating linkable content.
General Rules of Thumb for Creating Linkable Content
- Must be displayed on a site providing exceptional UI and UX to users.
- Is some combination of high quality, trustworthy, useful, interesting and original.
- Creates an emotional response.
- Must solve a problem or answer a question by providing in-depth, exceptional and completely thorough information.
Specific Rules for Creating Skyscraper Content
- Make it Longer. If you find a great Linkable Asset to skyscrape the first thing you should be thinking about is making it longer and more in-depth. For example, If you find an article titled “25 Ways to Increase Your Website Traffic” create and publish a list of 75 ways to increase website traffic.
- Make it More Up-To-Date. Skyscraping a high-performing piece of content by using the latest information can have a huge impact. Create something that covers many of the same points, but update it with cutting-edge research, data and other time-sensitive information.
- Make it Look Better. Sometimes really good content looks really bad. Google may love the content of a page, but poor design can be a detriment to user engagement. Creating visually engaging articles with valuable, useful information is a great way to ensure your content will rank well.
- Make it More Thorough. Most list articles and blog compositions are just bland regurgitations of old information. Take the time to think about a post from a different, more unique perspective. Adding more depth to a topic while still providing the same root knowledge will always help to skyscrape a current piece of content.
True skyscraper content will improve upon the existing ranked content on every level listed above. This will make it explicitly clear to Google and users that you have created a better piece of content.
3. Share What Is Created with the Right People
Too many site owners, SEO professionals and digital marketers fear step three, and it paralyzes them from even attempting the first two steps! But as much as creating the content is important, reaching out to promote it is just as, if not potentially more important.
The most important thing to remember is that your efforts should focus around sites that will provide value to a page. A few key things to ask when qualifying these targets are:
- Is the site considered authoritative by Google?
- Is the site within the niche or does it provide value to the niche?
- Does the site have interest in your topic?
- Has the site linked to similar articles?
Simple, right? With sites like ahrefs, it actually is. You can use their tools to identify and export a list of all the links pointing to the identified content you have skyscraped (there are plenty of others, tools on but ahrefs is our tool of choice at SEO Experts).
Once you have exported your list, you can pare it down by removing the pages that wouldn’t make much sense for you to reach out to for a link. These include forums, directories, etc.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a solid list of authoritative sites, in your niche, that have already shown a propensity to link to similar content.
And the best part is, your content is better than anything they have seen! Now all you need to do is reach out.
Backlink Request Template:
Of course, this is not a rigid structure so feel free to add “flare” around our suggestions. Try different ways of getting this message across and gaining attention, because the more interest you get in this email, the more high-quality links your content will earn.
That’s it folks!
Now you may be thinking you don’t have time for all this work. Contact SEO Experts today and let us build the high-quality backlinks that improve your ranking and increase traffic. Our industry-leading team will implement our proven SEO solutions to increase your revenue, lower you marketing and acquisition costs and put you ahead of the competition.