I recently was turned on to the Skyscraper Technique developed by Backlinko. Graham Clark from Moneystepper posted about it on the Yakezie forums and posted a 30,000 word post on 111 ways to save money on household bills!
The basic idea is that you find the definitive resource on some topic, in this case saving money on household bills. You look at that treatment, write your own version of it and:
- expand on it, making your version more comprehensive
- update it, making your version more current
- improve the design, making your version easier to navigate
You then track down the top ranked sites that linked to the old version. You let them know about your improved version, and hope that a few of them will link to you – since they linked to the old one.
There’s a lot I like about this! You’re being guided in what will be a large undertaking by looking at something else that has been successful. Rather than pour massive amounts of time into something that may or may not get attention, you’re building on something that has proven to be of interest.
I think it’s smart to contact the people who linked to the old resource. It does make sense that they’d be interested in your new version of it.
An element of this might be triggering a competition with the site that originally made the post you’re updating. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about this, but some people in the blogosphere (and through the Internet) have strange expectations about acceptable behavior. I could see the wrong person getting irate that you’ve moved into “their turf”.
It should go without saying, but you should never copy-and-paste any content from the resource you’re building on. Even if it isn’t word-for-word, you should be VERY careful to make sure your skyscraper is entirely your own work.
Graham spent 20-25 hours on this content, so that’s a big bet to be placing on one post. Sometimes you want to really knock it out of the park with specific content, often called “Pillar Content”, but it’s a gamble. If a skyscraper flops, that’s a lot of time invested in it.
Feedback to Moneystepper
My hat is off to Graham for trying this out, and I’m excited to hear how it works for him. Apparently he hasn’t been able to get any of the big sites to link to his post yet, hopefully some will come through soon.
Honestly, I found the post overwhelming and didn’t read a single way to save money, although I skimmed over the post and read about the technique. Part of the appeal of a blog is that the content is in bite-sized chunks. 30,000 words is a bigger investment then I’m willing to make when I’m surfing. Instead of reading the 111 ways, I could read a big chunk of a book – which are usually around 90,000 words. My wife started reading it when she saw the link on my twitter feed and she stopped after 2 ways – similarly it was too much for her.
The design didn’t make it very easy to navigate his post. The links to the various categories were great, but it might have been useful to have a grid with all of the categories and each post in it near the beginning – all 111 tips that you could see on your screen at once – this would let you easily see what sort of tips would be presented.
I wonder how the skyscraper would have compared to Graham having a “save money on household bills” day on his blog and scheduled posts for the next 111 weeks. 2 years of posts is a lot of content. Each might get more readers (and more links) then the sum of the big post.
If he’s unhappy with the results of the skyscraper technique, I’d suggest he pull down the post, and cannibalize it for content. If he doesn’t think the individual tips are comparable in quality to a standard post on his site, he could use them on an off day when he wouldn’t usually post – maybe on a weekend.
What do you think of the skyscraper technique? Would you ever try it? If you have tried it, what was the result?