Why The Skyscraper Technique Is More Important Now Than Ever
By Louise LinehanFeb 19
What is the hallmark of good content? Ask 100 content marketers, and you’ll probably hear at least 101 different answers.
However, whether the goal of a post is to drive traffic, develop backlinks, earn shares, or just about anything else, every marketer would agree that the longer the content is able to do it, the better.
After all, would you rather have a blog post that attracts new visitors for a month, a year, or a decade?
This is why creating popular content is no longer enough.You want evergreen content that is popular and stands the test of time.
Here’s one of the most concise explanations about the importance of evergreen content from Jacob Warwick:
“The best evergreen content is the holy grail of content marketing. It’s that article that consistently ranks well in search and drives 65 percent of your site traffic, even though it was written in 2011.”
So, while putting together evergreen content tends to take longer than quickly writing other types of posts, the results of success are definitely worth it. Just one evergreen piece could regularly add to your bottom line for years to come.
The good news is that, if you use BuzzSumo, creating evergreen content from scratch is a repeatable process. By finding the most popular content in your industry, you’ll find it much easier to create evergreen posts again and again.
In order for popular content to become evergreen, it should be about a topic with no expiration date. Therefore, a list of predictions for the coming year could make for popular content, but as soon as that year has come and gone, so too will its shelf life. That’s not evergreen content.
Similarly, if I was an investment analyst, I’d probably find that many in my market loved weekly “hot pick” articles where I explained which stocks I thought were trending up. Again, that might be popular content, but it will never become evergreen.
With that in mind, we’ll use BuzzSumo to look at what kind of content has been doing extremely well with our market over the past five years. We’re using this longer timeframe because we want to create content that’s going to do just as well.
So, say your company makes an email-marketing platform. Naturally, your audience would be interested in email marketing, which you can search for in BuzzSumo and arrange by the topics’ Evergreen Scores :
That’s a lot of popular content. So, the question becomes: how can you beat it?
Brian Dean of Backlinko fame coined the term, “Skyscraper Technique”, to describe a content strategy he often uses to beat the popular content that is ahead of his in Google.
Whenever he sees a listicle, he just uses the items from that post and then adds to it, so his is longer. Unsurprisingly, people naturally assume that the longer list is better. It receives more clicks and more shares and, eventually, a much wider audience.
You could do this with a few of the examples above. For example, you could come up with even more email tips and beat out, “Email Marketing Best Practices: 23 Tips for Dramatically Better Emails.”
If the most popular content among your evergreen competitors isn’t a listicle, that just means you need to do a little more digging.
For example, Campaign Monitor had a lot of success with, “The New Rules of Email Marketing.” However, it was published all the way back in 2015. Think how much has changed since then (e.g. the passing of the GDPR). Surely, there are plenty of opportunities to improve on that post and make popular content that will serve your market even better for years to come.
Of course, you can always take popular content and reformat it as well. Instead of the way Campaign Monitor did it, you could use a listicle instead. Here are other formats to consider that might give you even more success when you create your evergreen post:
Whatever format you use, remember to be helpful.
“When looking to write evergreen content I believe you need to write from a place within yourself that genuinely wants to help the customer without asking them to give you something first i.e. their email, phone number, etc., meaning you should write without any expectation,” says Natalie Adis, Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics, Marquis Health Services.
“You shouldn’t be looking at your content creation process to simply garner impressions or generating clicks. Instead, simply look to truly help a person or group of people who are habitually searching for answers to their questions and haven’t been able to find thorough enough answers. Genuinely seeking to help others builds trust and rapport digitally and the rest will fall into place.”
Successful content marketing depends on schedules. Editorial calendars are an obvious example. You need to regularly publish content to generate consistent traffic, interest, and engagement.
More and more marketers have come around to the importance of regular content audits too.
Well, here’s one more to add to your list: regularly updating your evergreen content. Fortunately, you can just add this task to your ongoing content audits.
For example, although the title above still reads, “101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2017”, the actual link leads to, “DigitalMarketer’s 101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2018 (…And 7 Top-Notch Subject Lines Pulled from the Vault).”
Clearly, DigitalMarketer understands the importance of updating their posts. In fact, they’ve been updating this one since it was first published in 2014. Expect another update by the end of the year.
The reason successful marketers do this is twofold.
First, evergreen content takes time to create. So, if it begins slipping in popularity, it’s much easier to simply update it rather than start from scratch.
Second, the URL attached to current evergreen content will become valuable over the years. Instead of starting brand-new ones for Google to judge, update the current ones that are already doing well and help it do better.
In order for you URL’s to stand the test of time, you need to make sure they don’t include numbers or dates.
Julia Bramble, Ph.D., social media strategist, trainer & keynote speaker, makes this point clear in her list of how-to’s for evergreen content.
“Evergreen content can form the backbone of your content marketing strategy,” Julia says. “Many businesses prioritize evergreen content creation as it is deemed worthwhile investing time and effort into content that will remain relevant and attract clicks, views and leads over the longer term.
“However, it’s important to remember a few key points in the process:
1. Choose a theme or subject that is as timeless as possible.
2. Remember not to include dates where at all possible, or references such as ‘last year’ or ‘2 months ago.
3. Try not to include references to very popular celebrities or TV programs that could date your content.
4. Review your content from time to time, to make sure that it still comes across as being vibrant and relevant.
5. An alternative approach is to make your content very specific to a particular time point (for example a list of online tools) but then to make sure it gets updated at very regular intervals.”
Looking back, you may realize that some of your past efforts have fallen so far that they’re no longer producing any returns. In that case, combine as many as you can into one post under the URL that’s doing best. Then, use redirects on the obsolete pages – instead of deleting them – to send any visitors they do earn to the updated URL.
Despite how much potential evergreen posts have, you can create this popular content over and over using the strategy above.
See for yourself with 30 free days of BuzzSumo – more than enough time to an incredible piece of evergreen content.
Enter any topic, term or url to search to see BuzzSumo in action. It’s free!
100% free. No credit card required.