Up to date April 11, 2022
Launched nearly 10 years in the past, this obsession in content material advertising circles nonetheless negatively impacts my studying expertise. It additionally makes discovering the good things troublesome.
What is that this outdated child on the block that’s nonetheless messing issues up?
Skyscraper content material.
Very similar to infographics, listicles, and different scorching content material advertising developments earlier than them, the unique idea of skyscraper was sensible. Its overuse and misuse make it a menace.
What’s skyscraper content material?
To create skyscraper content material, content material entrepreneurs:
- Discover profitable content material (usually from the highest search outcomes on Google but additionally common content material on social).
- Reverse engineer that content material’s success by evaluating who linked to or shared it.
- Create one thing higher.
- Replicate its distribution technique by contacting those that linked to or shared the unique and letting them know in regards to the “new” content material.
I encourage you to learn the submit by Brian Dean at Backlinko, who continues to be a superb practitioner of this system.
Skyscraper #content material entails the reverse engineering of profitable content material to create one thing higher and replicate its distribution technique, says @jfdimark by way of @CMIContent. Click on To Tweet
I have to admit once I first examine skyscraper content material and the outcomes it may produce, I used to be excited and constructed it into my content material advertising planning.
Nonetheless, as a content material shopper continuously on the receiving finish of skyscraper content material, I now suppose twice about it.
What’s flawed with it
The crux of my difficulty with so many blogs and companies making an attempt to outdo one another is that this: These content material creators suppose skyscraper content material is synonymous with size, not worth.
This can be a real misunderstanding. They use the phrase rely as a proxy for worth, one thing some folks consider Google does as properly. And there’s some fact on this. It’s exhausting – although not inconceivable – to ship a ton of worth in a submit of 300 to 500 phrases. Content material of 1,000 to 2,000 phrases usually offers you the power to put in writing with some depth and authority.
However skyscraper content material isn’t nearly producing longer and longer posts to rank greater than your opponents on search engine outcomes pages. Everybody loses in that arms race. It ignores your distinctive strengths in favor of an easy-to-replicate, exhausting to defend tactic of writing on a given topic.
Skyscraper can overlook an important viewers
Creating skyscraper content material that ignores true worth in the end results in a poor reader expertise. First, this content material is written for search engines like google and yahoo or to hit internally outlined metrics, not for actual readers.
This content material creation course of results in poor choices, akin to padding posts with insufferably lengthy, non-valuable introductions in regards to the historical past of the key phrase time period. Or stuffing in a dozen oft-used quotes on the topic from different specialists within the hope they’ll share the submit. Or including in a ton of vaguely related stats to attempt to construct authority.
I’ve learn a number of articles the place I’m properly over 1,000 phrases in, and I nonetheless haven’t gotten to the primary of the “10 suggestions.” Their content material creators have been targeted on bulking up the size and making it “complete” on the expense of my sanity (and time).
One other facet impact of conflating skyscraper content material with super-long content material is failing to make powerful choices about what to not embody. Actively excluding knowledge factors and fluff is a service to the reader and an indication of a superb author.
Don’t make me learn your entire 10,000 phrases simply to search out the one authentic or helpful idea — your readers shouldn’t be the editor of your content material; you must.
Sadly, the entrepreneurs creating skyscraper content material who deal with size add every thing they’ve ever come throughout within the title of “completeness” and to outdo their opponents.
Lastly, a weblog that publishes skyscraper content material nearly solely turns into inaccessible.
As Google continues to refine its algorithm to ship what readers want and wish to devour, skyscraper content material that fails to think about the readers first will fall from (or by no means make) the rankings.
Methods to abandon unoriginal content material
Right here’s one other big difficulty that could be a symptom of unhealthy skyscraper content material – unoriginality. Once you create new content material modeled after present profitable content material, how will readers discover something new? How will they uncover new angles? And the way, precisely, are you including a invaluable content material alternative?
Once more, this isn’t to disparage the methodology of skyscraper content material. When executed properly, it forces you to discover a distinctive angle to raise the present content material and make it one thing new and your personal. It may be executed properly in a recent format and presentation. For instance, you can take a protracted article and switch it into an easier-to-digest interactive chart. Or you can take flip a dense topic right into a extra accessible cartoon, SlideShare presentation, or video.
You possibly can add your model’s distinctive story, experiences, experience, and so on., to the unique subject, which means somebody studying each the unique and your skyscraper submit would get distinctive worth and understanding from each.
Nonetheless, too usually, skyscraper content material doesn’t add something aside from extra phrases to the subject. Generally you see this occur a number of occasions from completely different opponents, leaving the reader with three or 4 “final,” “full,” or “definitive” guides which can be considerably the identical. Adopting this skyscraper content material technique means you’re all the time going to be a follower, by no means authentic.
Methods to make it work
Simply because a poorly carried out skyscraper content material method can result in a poor reader expertise doesn’t imply you must keep away from the method altogether. Listed here are 3 ways I feel it may – and will – be carried out:
- Real want: Discover content material within the prime three search outcomes which have been shared rather a lot however are actually outdated, inaccurate, filled with damaged hyperlinks, and so on. It’s within the readers’ curiosity so that you can create one thing present. (That doesn’t essentially imply it must be twice as lengthy.)
- Distinctive angle: Creating nuanced content material on a well-recognized subject can add one thing to the readers’ expertise and train them one thing new. It could possibly be the inclusion of a private account, a dissenting viewpoint, or a genuinely new option to deal with an outdated downside.
- Concentrate on worth, not textual content: Skyscraper content material is about creating content material 10 occasions extra invaluable, not 10 occasions longer. For instance, take an enormous heap of textual content and make it extra accessible by turning it right into a video or an interactive device; or simplifying a posh topic by visualizing.
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Go for worth, not peak with skyscraper content material
As with all nice concepts that work, skyscraper content material is highly effective, however sadly, meaning it’s broadly misused too. That’s a disgrace as a result of when employed correctly, it may be a strategy of content material creation that serves readers and companies properly.
The subsequent time you concentrate on writing that “definitive” information that capitalizes on others’ profitable content material, ask if it’s actually wanted. Will it really assist your readers?
If the reply isn’t a convincing “sure,” begin constructing. However, should you understand you’re solely doing it for inner metrics, don’t. As an alternative, go create one thing authentic that may delight your viewers.
Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising and marketing Institute