10 Alternatives to the Skyscraper Content Creation Strategy

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    skyscraper content creation strategy

    What are 10 alternatives to the “skyscraper” content creation strategy?

    To help content creators with writing original, audience-engaging content, we asked successful website owners and editors this question for their best insight. From using large contact databases to content gap analysis, there are several methods that may help you create engaging content for your website.

    Here are 10 methods for diversifying your content writing:

    • Use Large Contact Databases
    • Find Competitor Backlinks that Point to a 404 Page
    • Pillar Pages
    • See How Your Content Stacks Up Against the Competition
    • Crowdsourcing
    • Content Diversification: “Skyscraper” Option
    • Cornerstone Content
    • Content Gap Analysis is a Better Alternative
    • Think Small and Direct Instead of Large and Broad
    • Create Content that Answers Unanswered Questions

    Use Large Contact Databases

    One of the weaknesses of the skyscraper strategy is that it rests on the assumption that re-creating a better version of the content that's been widely shared and successful will always work. It might work, of course, but sometimes a topic becomes overly saturated with coverage and, even if you're able to build better content, the contacts in question who have shared it will obviously find it somehow repetitive to be pitched the same content.

    A simple alternative is to rely on contact database sellers such as Prowly, Anewstip, Muck Rack, Cision, and so on. There's usually enough variety in those contacts to make your content look fresh every time you share it out.

    Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD

    Find Competitor Backlinks that Point to a 404 Page

    One alternative to the Skyscraper technique is to check out the backlink profiles of your competitors and see if there are any backlinks to pages that return a 404 error code. Find the email of the web owner using Hunter.io and ask them to change the link to the alternative resource that exists on your website.

    Claire Westbrook
    Claire WestbrookFounder, LSAT Prep Hero

    Pillar Pages

    The pillar pages strategy, popularized by HubSpot, aims to create content that ranks for searches about certain topics. The first stage is to create a single pillar page about the topic as a whole that is extremely comprehensive. The next stage is to complement the pillar page with a cluster of supplementary posts that examine very specific aspects of that topic by answering questions or interviewing experts. All the supplementary posts link back to the pillar page which is a powerful way of improving the page’s SEO using internal linking. A site can have many pillar pages to ensure it ranks for a range of different topics.

    Leanna Serras
    Leanna SerrasChief Customer Officer, FragranceX

    See How Your Content Stacks Up Against the Competition

    While capitalizing off of someone else's top ranking page is a savvy strategy, creating original content is better for brand transparency. However, you do need to know how your content stacks up against the competition. By performing competitive content analysis, you can examine your competitors' content quality, how often they post, and how their content is performing. This will help you better understand the kind of content that engages well in your market.

    To conduct a competitive content audit, you'll need to research how your direct competitors use articles, guest posts, images, videos, case studies, and surveys. You'll also want to note whether their content aligns with their product or service or if it's a mission-based marketing approach. You can do this by combing through their websites and social media channels or using an analytics tool like Google Analytics or BuzzSumo (https://buzzsumo.com/). With this information at your fingertips, you'll create authentic and unique content of real value.

    Daniel Tejada
    Daniel Tejada Co-Founder & Chief Learning Officer, Straight Up Growth


    Crowdsourcing is one alternative to the skyscraper content creation strategy that can have serious rewards when included in a content strategy. Rather than trying to one-up an existing piece of content as the skyscraper technique demands, crowdsourcing draws on the unique minds of your community to create fresh content. Crowdsourcing can help increase the quality of your work by virtue of opening you up to new ideas, points-of-view, and innovations, lending an authenticity to your content that's crucial for strong engagement. Plus, you can scale your content creation (https://blog.featured.com/how-to-get-free-blog-content-unique-articles/) much quicker by reaching out to experts for their quotes and input rather than writing an entire article on your own.

    Roy Morejon
    Roy MorejonPresident & Co-Founder, Enventys Partners

    Content Diversification: “Skyscraper” Option

    Content diversification is a better alternative to the “skyscraper” content creation strategy. Other than long-form articles, explore the use of videos, podcasts, and infographics in your website and tease your content with social media posts, too.
    This way, you can improve your search engine rankings, drive more traffic to your website, and grow your audience in the process.

    When you post a variety of content formats, you are addressing your message to people from different stages of the marketing funnel--not only the bottom or those who are ready to transact with you. Likewise, multiple formats give you the chance to rank for various queries while giving readers options to understand better the information you present.
    Therefore, you are strengthening a page based on search and user experience.

    Michael Haas
    Michael HaasPresident and Founder, Angry BBQ

    Cornerstone Content

    Cornerstone content takes its name from the construction of buildings. In the old days, when you wanted to lay the foundation to a building, you would place a stone at the corner and build the rest around it. This stone, the “cornerstone," was the most important stone of the building as it effectively held up the entire structure. When applied to content strategy this entails creating foundational pieces of content that explain the core concepts that every customer needs to understand to do business with you. Cornerstone content is different to skyscraper content because it’s not about the length of your content, it’s about the educational value it offers.

    Dean  Kaplan
    Dean KaplanCEO, The Kaplan Group

    Content Gap Analysis is a Better Alternative

    Use content gap analysis instead of the Skyscraper Technique. Both strategies have the same goal yet they utilize different strategies. When you choose content gap analysis, you create missing content topics rather than just improving existing ones.

    This is the perfect opportunity to not only show you’re an authority, but also an innovator. You take advantage of the first-mover advantage with content gap analysis. It’s a great way to increase brand awareness.

    Danavir Sarria
    Danavir SarriaCEO, Rooftop Squad

    Think Small and Direct Instead of Large and Broad

    The main issue with the skyscraper technique in this new SERP and SEO landscape is while you create these large in-depth pieces of content you fail to dive into the specific areas of the customer's problem or question.

    A strong alternative is to identify gaps in the content as they relate to granular bits of information and create a piece of content, tool, media that really focuses on that one area. Google rewards direct answers to questions and there is often a lot of search volume in all the different variations of more specific queries.

    Sam Gallen
    Sam GallenSenior Director, Organic Search, collystring

    Create Content that Answers Unanswered Questions

    The Skyscraper technique requires that you take an already existing piece of content and add to it to make it better and longer. One alternative is to create the content the internet (https://blog.featured.com/what-will-finally-break-the-internet/) has yet to see. This may sound impossible, but it's surprisingly within reach using Google Question Hub. Visit the platform and enter a keyword to see a list of unanswered questions, or questions people have searched but haven't been able to find satisfactory answers to. Cross reference some of the questions with keyword research from Ahrefs or Semrush, and create supporting content that answers what you've found. Why piggyback off of the same content that's been rehashed a dozen times when you can create something original?

    Sara Bodner
    Sara BodnerDigital Content Manager, Conklin Media