Improve Google Rankings using Skyscraper Techniques 1 & 2

Trying to improve Google ranking of your website and get to the first page of Google? We have prepared an ultimate guide on how to hit the front page and stay there using the Skyscraper Technique 1&2!

Digital Ethos is a full-service digital marketing agency focusing on Web Design, SEO, PPC Management & Social Media Marketing in Leicester, London, Barnsley, Birmingham, Bristol, Truro and Edinburgh.

Why Skyscraper?

High-quality content still reigns supreme on Google search results. Ensuring you have the best most relevant and up to date content, basically blowing any other content out of the water can help. It increases audience retention and has the ability to create a positive experience for your potential customers and compel them to come back for more.

Good backlinks will help drive you up the rankings, backlinks are a good indicator of its popularity or importance with search engines. Google, will give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks, and consider those websites more relevant than others in their results pages for a search query.

Getting a user to reach your page is only half the battle, making that page stick takes some extra work. Google now looks at user intent so getting a user to stay on the page is extremely important. Targeting great content and ensuring it’s useful to your audiences is the best way to keep users engaged. To do this you really need to understand what user intent is and set about enhancing the user’s experience. This is done through really understanding how usable the site is, what the user gets out of it and if it is even answering their original question properly.

It sounds difficult to implement one of these techniques let alone all of them. Well today, we at Digital Ethos are going to help you by showing you both Skyscraper 1.0 and 2.0 technique. These are both step by step processes to getting these things right. These techniques will almost certainly guarantee that you get high-quality backlinks from every piece of content that you publish, and once you have nailed these techniques you will feel on top of the world.

What is Skyscraper Technique 1.0?

Skyscraper 1.0 is the tried and tested method of building great, shareable content and has been around for a while. I’m sure you’ve heard all about the Skyscraper link building technique a thousand times already, but in case you haven’t the technique was created by ‘Backlinko’s Brian Dean’, and is a system for turning content into high-quality backlinks boasting your content up to the first page. If skyscraper 1.0 was all about getting content to the first page, then the skyscraper 2.0 technique is about getting content that will stick there.

The idea is to pick popular pages, improve upon them, and then reach out to sites that linked to those lower‐quality pages and get them to link to you. If you’ve been neglecting this method all this time but want to give it a try, you’ll probably find today’s post really useful.

What is the main Objective of Skyscraper Technique 1.0?

The main objective of the Skyscraper Technique 1.0 is to optimise a piece of content for Google to crawl through, creating powerful content which is long and informative has a number of benefits. Google rewards long and relevant content with plenty of links boosting up the page. The page then becomes a useful piece of content as well, so it becomes immensely shareable. Partnering this with a targeted outreach strategy makes it much easier for content to hit that front page. However, this is only half the battle. Now Google’s method of reading your pages is becoming more sophisticated. It allows you to get backlinks both naturally and after reaching out to the right people. That’s exactly how skyscrapers become popular — you take the highest existing building, add a few more floors and voila — everybody’s talking and writing about you.

How to implement Skyscraper Technique 1.0?

To implement a successful ‘skyscraper technique’ you need a process and below are three essential steps which will help you to achieve top quality links:

Step 1: Find Link-Worthy Content

The first step in any Skyscraper campaign is to find some relevant pages with lots of backlinks. It’s important to know what your top keyword phrases are, which I’m sure you already do, however, if not it’s important to complete some keyword research. Analyze high-ranking content in Rank Tracker, and if you do use Rank Tracker to find keywords, all you need to do to find content with lots of backlinks.

Please keep in mind that linkable assets are not always in-depth articles, they can be a viral video, a popular infographic, a free online app, etc. So if you’re not really into copywriting, choose the option that better fits your skill level and experience.

Step 2: Make The Content Even Better!

One key tip is to ensure the information in the posts is accurate! A couple of questions to ask yourself “is there more up to date content out there?” and “do you have the knowledge to correct any misinformation you have found’ make sure the content is right! Don’t worry you don’t need to be overly creative just make sure the content is more precise than the previous authors, correct the mistakes and collect the trending statistics. Basically ‘Blow it out of the water’, and take existing content to the next level! Add more examples like case studies, videos, images, infographics, links, slides, quotes! 

Sometimes all it takes to win more links is to stand out from the crowd — by making your posts visually appealing and different. Your options could range from simply adding great illustrations to reworking a piece into a video or infographic — whichever one you choose, make sure that the result is witty, memorable, and original.

Step 3: Reach out to the right people

Email outreach is the backbone of the Skyscraper Technique.
Why is this going to make a difference in the outreach technique you are already doing? Because you’re reaching out to site owners that have already linked out to similar content. It’s almost like an invitation to contact these people!

Ensuring that you qualify.

When you qualify potential links like this you already know that they run a site in your niche, they are clearly interested in your topic and they’ve already linked to an article on that topic.

Now it’s just a matter of giving them a friendly heads up about your clearly superior content.

Remember to Reach out to people whose websites are relevant to your niche.
Try to be personal — if you’ve communicated before, make sure to mention that.
Always be polite.

What is Skyscraper Technique 2.0?

Earlier in the decade, Google came under fire for allowing ‘content farms’ to run rampant. Articles were published on how the algorithm had been ruined by these exploiters. Two examples of this were Demand media (eHow) and Answers.com. These were firmly established inside the top 20 website properties and were pumping out 7,000 pieces of content a day. Their aim was to quickly distribute a lot of low-quality content, with content based on search value alone.

outreach in 2019

This is when Google introduced Google Panda in 2011, an algorithmic update aiming to tackle this. Google Panda, initially a separate algorithm, was given a rigorous set of questions to answer when looking at content. These were all aimed at the user and human quality ratings. It basically tries to assess if the content is high-quality or not and relevant to the users. This led to the decrease of these content farms and in 2016, Panda was introduced into Google’s core algorithm. This means the quality of content matters more so than ever now.

The main algorithm now works in conjunction with Google RankBrain to assess content and rank it. RankBrain is a separate algorithm, which assesses user experience with content in a different way. While Panda wants to make sure it looks good and asks hypothetical questions of the content, predicting what users will do, RankBrain instead analyses how users engage with the content to determine if it’s good or not. RankBrain focuses on user experience signals (UX signals) and the two most important are:

Dwell Time

How long someone spends on your page before heading back to the search results page.

CTR

The percentage of people who click on your link in search results.

Dwell time is how long a searcher spends on your page. It’s relevant because if a person clicks on your search result and decides that it isn’t relevant or doesn’t answer the query, it clearly shouldn’t be high up on the first page. How many times have you wanted to find out some information, clicked on the first result and realised it was irrelevant and left immediately. Google sees this and is constantly trying to adjust the first page due to this.

Therefore RankBrain penalises pages with low dwell time and boosts pages with high dwell time. The average dwell time is around 3 minutes and 10 seconds so you need to try and keep users around for at least this time. Therefore you not only need people to click your content but you need them to stay there for RankBrain to view it as relevant.

What Does This Mean For Your Content?

This shows that Google is all about the user experience, deciding if the content is relevant and engaging for searchers. Before these changes, you could optimise content for Google to read, but not users and searchers. Now Google focuses immensely on user intent and user experience with your content. This completely changes the game when it comes to keeping your content on the 1st page, you no longer just have to worry about getting there, consolidation is part of the game. You now need to have positive user signals from your site and satisfy user intent. Users have to engage with the content positively to keep it at the top else it will shoot down in the rankings.

So one big way to have a positive user experience and generate great user signals that Google can read is to satisfy user intent. If you are satisfying user intent, the user ideally won’t be leaving your page. If a user searches for, for example, Wallmart or Asda, you need to research why they’re searching that. The user is probably not interested in the corporate headquarters but in their nearest store. Making sure the content you are producing satisfy user intent around your targeted keyword is essential.

Written content is not the only issue here, the whole website experience is now pivotal. If your content ranks well for keywords, relevance and backlinks it all could be pointless if a user doesn’t like your website design and leaves immediately. Optimising sites for user-friendly experiences is now more important than ever as it can be directly measured with these new metrics. Maybe your website looks good and your content is relevant, you’ll still lose those who are engaged by visual or auditory inputs if it’s just text with no video or images. Thinking about all members of your audience and how to best keep them is now something that is important for all areas of your domain.  

Skyscraper 1.0 can easily bounce posts and pages up to the first page, but if users are constantly hopping off your page it will sink. Google will see this low dwell time and interpret that as you not satisfying the user intent. This is how skyscraper 2.0 can allow you to optimise existing content for user intent or create better-targeted content.

Using Skyscraper 2.0 To Stick to the First Page

Step 1: Figure Out User Intent

There are a couple of simple ways to identify what user intent is. Firstly, simply looking at the first page for your keyword is a great way to see. If something is ranking for the first page, you know it must be satisfying user intent at least a little bit. You then ask yourself, what do these results satisfy in the mind of your searcher.

For example, if you search ‘chicken korma’ what do you think will come up? A definition of what chicken korma is? Where to order a chicken korma? Reviews of the dish?
What shows up for this example is mostly recipes, so if you wanted to add to content to the front page with that keyword it is a safe bet you should create a recipe post.

You can group user intent into categories of similar intents. There are 4 main kinds of user intent that you need to take into account when constructing content. This list is not entirely exhaustive but is a great start when looking at what searchers usually look for.

Secondly, you should analyse your keyword itself very closely. If your keyword is a checklist about something, say SEO Checklist, then you need to make sure the format is indeed a checklist. It’s easy for you to lose sight of this structure when writing, what may be great content. The user won’t ever know this however because they will just be looking for a checklist and will immediately leave when they don’t see this.

Step 2: Satisfy User Intent

Once you understand what the user intent is for your targeted keywords, you must begin optimising your content for this. This can be in the creation of fresh content or the optimisation of existing content that is slipping down the front page.

You now need to dig deeper into the audience triggering these searches. If your post is informational for example, what existing knowledge do they already have? If your piece is on how to do a specific coding problem, for example, it is probably safe to assume some degree of knowledge. If however, a guide on SEO practices there is probably a lot more absolute beginners in the process.

This involves you checking the existing articles to see what levels of information they include. If you see the guides in positions 1-3 all addressing information more focused on beginners, you should include this too. You can keep in the more advanced information if relevant, but you don’t want to scare off beginners with expert level knowledge right away.

As mentioned before, the format can play a big part in giving the user a positive and relevant experience. If your keyword is ‘SEO checklist’ then make it a checklist! If everything related to your search is focused on recipes, then make a recipe if you still want that content!

It’s common knowledge in anyone involved in SEO that longer content is looked on favourably by Google. This has led to many rambly pieces of content which repeat the same point over and over. This is not optimal for satisfying user intent. If the content is long, you must cover lots of different and relevant things. You want this page to answer any queries the searcher has and will have later on. Expanding on points and really going in depth will keep users on your page.

Emphasising time will really help with information pieces. Users will naturally want the most up to date information. Putting the date in your H1 tags as well as emphasising it throughout the content will really add an air of authority to the piece. This obviously means you have to be clued up on the latest information though.

Step 3: Optimize for UX signals

This is where the tricky part comes in. Your content can be perfectly optimised for user intent but if your site isn’t, users will just leave. Many sites nowadays expect people to deal with frankly, ugly sites. If your site doesn’t look good it won’t look legitimate and users won’t want to read your content. You could pool thousands of hours into absolutely groundbreaking content but so many people judge a site by its cover and will leave before they even read the first sentence.

If people leave your site immediately, then Google will have no choice but to downrank you. They want sites that users want to click and stay on. If you don’t fit those criteria then there are countless sites more capable.

If your site doesn’t drive users away at first glance, then it is time to optimise for UX signals. Specifically, you should focus on 3 things:

  • Dwell time
  • Organic CTR
  • Bounce rate

An easy way to keep people engaged on your site is through embedded videos. People spent on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without. This figure may be a bit overblown, but they certainly help people stay on your page longer. If you have an engaging 3-minute video, you’ve already hit that minimum dwell time target. This also allows digestion of your content for those of different learning styles or who prefer different kinds of engagement.

 

A table of contents will easily help users navigate your page. It allows those seeking specific information to find it quickly, rather than just seeing a wall of text and leaving. These also allow your page to get some site links on the search results page. This can greatly boost organic CTR.

 

Optimisation of content structure is key. For examples, having an optimised introduction. If you look at a heat map of your page, you will see that many people get maybe a sentence into your intro and leave. This means you should optimise your introduction to be short and sweet.

Making the content easy to read if the final yet important point. Similar to a table of contents, having lots of h2 and h3 tags to make navigation easy. Using appropriate English is also a factor. Some guides may require basic English with short sentences and paragraphs to make it easily digestible. If your piece is maybe more authoritative or aimed at a highly skilled market, they might look down at such a basic structure. It will be clearer how to structure the content after the initial research.

Conclusion

So understanding how Google is changing allows us to create targeted content easier. Adjusting to Google’s shift towards favouring sites with great usability will keep your domain healthy for a long time. The first page of the search results is a constant battle, so analysing the playing field regularly is essential for you staying on top.

Written content isn’t the only place you should focus on, your website design is going to make a huge difference too. Go back and make those website changes you’ve been meaning to do because they’re going to carry more and more significance.

Construct all future content with the user and user intent at the forefront of your focus. It isn’t too late to go back and change existing content either, so don’t let time hold you back. Never stop trying to improve your pages. Now you better understand how to rank your content and how Google will be measuring your content for user intent, it is time to get out there and build some great content.