In the world of SEO and marketing, part of the job is creating great content that will not only grab the reader, but will be of value. Many times, that is easier said than done. However, it is possible—if you have the right tools and resources.
One of the best methods we’ve used to create unique content for our clients is through a technique called a “skyscraper campaign.” This is where you create a piece of content that is not only informative, but is presented in a clear way that doesn’t drive people running from your site. You know what I’m talking about. Ever land on a piece about 21 great ideas only to discover you have to click through various slides or are able to only see 1 or 2 tips and have no idea where to find the other 19 steps? If you’re like me, you give up after about 3 seconds of looking around the site.
The purpose of a skyscraper is to pull in ideas from various sources (keyword research, experts, and other sources) to create something of value to people and help to drive more traffic to your site. Think of it this way: if you have a competitor writing about “26 Great Ways To Utilize SEO In Your Marketing,” why not write a piece about 101 ways instead?
(Side note: as you brainstorm and do your research for your campaign, it is important not to plagiarize.)
Before you begin, I recommend you create a spreadsheet to keep all your keyword research, ideas, and responses (all this is covered below) so you have everything together to help keep you organized and not having to dig through emails to find what you’re looking for.
As you begin your skyscraper campaign, the first thing you will want to do is keyword research. Search relevant keywords, review keywords and terms your competitors are talking about, and find articles where you can expand and improve on.
For more ideas, we’ve also used Amazon to gather ideas and find new terms to research. Review the table of contents of popular books (many books on Amazon provide a free preview of the first few pages) on the topic you’re writing about. Look for relevant terms and keywords they are using.
There are so many great ideas out there if you do your due diligence and be creative. Want more resources? Check out Quora, online forums, and any social media platform where people are engaged. Not only will this provide ideas, but it will also keep you up to date on current events or trends that can spark an idea on an angle you can take in your article.
Reach Out To Experts & Influencers
Once you’ve completed your keyword research and determined from the data which topic would be most beneficial to write about, now is the time to find influencers and other experts in the field who may be interested in contributing 3-5 ideas for the article.
Here is an email template I’ve used in my outreach to influencers and experts:
Huge fan of your site! The tips and insights you share on project management are extremely valuable. Because of that, I wanted to reach out to you for a post I’m working on.
I’m working with the project management software company, XXX, on an article about XXX. I’d be honored to get a little blurb from you that I could use in the article.
Plus, my audience would absolutely love to get your take on this topic.
Please reply if you’re interested. We’ll only need a 2-3 sentence response and if we use your insights in the piece, we’ll, of course, link back to your site.
Another excellent resource we’ve used to collect ideas and tips from experts is, Help A Reporter (HARO). They allow you to submit a query which will be sent out to their 450,000 users.
An example of a HARO request I’ve used in the past:
I’m looking for project management experts or experienced project managers to share their top 3-5 ideas (about 2-3 sentences each) on XXX.
Please include any insights and tips that come to mind for both those starting out and the pros in project management. Also, if there are any predictions you have for 2016, please share them too.
Only project managers and project management experts need to reply
Please include your name, website, and link to your site
With many of our past skyscraper campaigns, submitting a HARO (or two) has provided us with a lot of valuable insights to use in the piece.
Organize Your Data
To help keep all the tips organized as they come in, I recommend creating an excel spreadsheet with the contributor’s name, email, company name, website, first idea, second idea, and so on to revert back to instead of having to keep searching through your emails.
After you’ve compiled all your tips into one area (and have received all of your responses from experts) you can separate each tip and response into different categories. This helps readers navigate through the piece and allows them to skip to a specific area they are most interested in.
We all have our own ways of organizing feedback and ideas, but I found the most helpful was to take the ideas from the spreadsheet and copy and paste them into a Word or Google doc. Once I copied them there, I was better able to see a pattern with each idea and begin to compile them into categories.
For example, on one particular skyscraper campaign, I noticed a lot of ideas that came in focused on leadership, communication, time management, and company culture. For any ideas that didn’t fit in any category, I created a section at the end titled, “Further Advice and Inspiration”. This allowed me to use any great ideas that didn’t necessarily fit in a specific category.
Write Your Article
Once you’ve compiled your HAROs and additional feedback from influencers, now is the time to write the article. The number of ideas and tips that come back will determine how much writing you’ll have to do. I’ve experienced both situations with my campaigns: for one client, we didn’t get many ideas and I spent more time writing the piece. With another, we received so many ideas that my job was simply editing them together, as well as writing an intro and conclusion.
Don’t forget to include attribution to the people who contributed to your skyscraper. For example, if John Doe from Company ABC shared a great piece of information and you used the information in your site, make sure you give him credit. Also, include a link back to his company’s website. After the article has been published, you can reach back out to him and let him know you’ve included a link back to his website (which will make him more likely to want to share the article with his readers and help drive more traffic to your site).
Promote The Skyscraper
After the skyscraper is published, your job is not over yet. Now is the time to promote it! What I like most about skyscraper campaigns is that you’re not doing a lot of “cold-calling” when it comes to sending out emails to random people. Instead, because you’ve already been engaging with the people who’ve sent you information and tips to use in your article, you already have an established relationship with people who will naturally want to share your content.
When emailing people who’ve contributed to the skyscraper, here is an email template I’ve sent out:
I wanted to let you know the article has been published. You can check it out here: XXX
Thanks so much for sharing your insights and tips! We incorporated them throughout the piece and included a link (see #19) back to your site.
Hope you enjoy it! If you think it’s worthy, will you share it with your readers?
In addition to reaching back out to the influencers and others who’ve shared valuable information for your article, email people who’ve written on the same or similar topic who might be interested in sharing even more information with their readers. For example, if you’ve noticed a site shared an article on 20 great things to do over the summer, and you have a piece on 102 great things to do, they might be willing to share your article.
When emailing sites like this, an email that works best is:
I was searching the web for backyard design ideas and saw your post, 18 Clever and Resourceful Gardening Hacks.
I wanted to let you know that we’ve crafted something that would be a great addition to your post’s resources. It’s a list of XXX with descriptions and insights shared by the pros.
Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in and I can send it your way to check it out.
Creating great and valuable content is possible. Start by doing your keyword research and seeing what people are talking about. As you decide what topic would hold the most interest with your readers and share great information, remember to keep the content relevant to your site.