Have you ever written (what you thought) was an epic piece of content only to see it sink into oblivion.
No social engagement. No backlinks. No email signups. No traffic. Nothing!
It’s a common story. In fact, there are 2 million new blog posts published everyday.
With all this noise and competition floating around, how do you craft a piece of content that stands out from the crowd and drives serious traffic to your site?
Today, I’m going to show how to produce and promote a piece of content that will attract 10,199 visits to your blog in 30 days.
Better still, I’m going to show you how I did it despite having:
Zero marketing budget.
A blog that was only a month old.
A mere handful of Twitter followers.
This ONE post got my name on the front page of Inbound.org for a week, was included as a top weekly submission in the Moz monthly newsletter, generated several business leads and netted me a handful of guest post opportunities and free affiliate licenses.
I’m going to walk you step-by-step through the exact process I used.
Grab a coffee, sit back and let’s get started.
What You Will Learn
- How to find proven content ideas
- How to identify (and leverage) content weaknesses
- How to drive thousands of people to your site without spending a penny
The Skyscraper Technique
A few months ago I stumbled across a post by Brian Dean that would change the way I approach SEO and content marketing.
The post highlighted a fundamental floor in many content marketing strategies – the idea that if I publish great content, people will naturally link to it and share it.
This approach couldn’t be more WRONG. In fact, writing “quality” content is less than half the battle.
In order to produce content that earns hundreds of social shares, attracts quality links, drives thousands of visitors to your site, and catches the attention of big brands such as Moz you need to have a systematic approach.
There are three basic steps to the Skyscraper approach:
Step 1: Find proven content
Step 2: Make it better
Step 3: Promote it like your blog depends on it
Why does this approach work so well?
Because you’re finding proven content – that people have already linked to and shared – and making it better.
It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.
You’re taking something that is great and slapping another 20 layers of “awesomeness” on top of it.
All of a sudden you have the content that everyone is talking about, sharing and linking to.
Post In Point
On August 19 I published 16 Explosive Content Promotion Strategies.
In 30 days the post has collected 233 backlinks from 30 referring domains –
…and currently ranks #4 in Google for the search term “content promotion strategies”.
More importantly, traffic to the entire site almost tripled in just 30 days –
And, the post continues to send a steady stream of traffic to the site.
It even got featured in the Moz Top 10 monthly email digest –
On September 3 (the day it was featured in the Moz newsletter) that post alone generated over 2,000 pageviews.
You know the best part about all this?
You can do it too….with zero budget, zero influential connections, zero street cred, and a brand spankin’ new blog.
Step #1: Find Proven Content
Posts that are linkable and shareworthy form the foundation of any successful content marketing strategy.
But, in order to meet this criteria the content needs to be useful and actionable – provide instant value. The type of content people can’t help but share and link to.
The trick is finding content ideas that are proven. Content that has already received boat loads of social engagement and tons of quality links.
Here’s how to do it –
Buzzsumo is a great tool for finding the most shared content for any topic or domain.
First, head over to Buzzsumo and login.
Next, click the “top content” tab and enter a keyword related to your topic –
Make sure you have the settings set to include “articles” over the last 6 months.
You will then see a list of posts along with the number of social shares broken down by individual channels –
Make a list of the top 10 posts according to level of social engagement.
Topsy is a great tool for finding content that has received a lot of links.
Head over to Topsy and enter a keyword related to your niche –
Select “all time” and sort by “links” –
Remember, we want to find content that receives a high level of social engagement and backlinks.
When it comes to identifying the most socially engaged content on a site, Neil Patel has delivered an absolute gem.
Head over to Quicksprout and enter the domain name of a competitor in your niche –
Wait a minute for the tool to crawl your site.
The tool will provide you with a high-level SEO audit. But, for the purpose of this post we will want to click on the social media analysis tab –
This report will highlight the site’s most engaged social channels –
…and identify the individual pages that have received the most social shares broken down by channel –
This is not only great for identifying proven content, but it’s also an effective tool for performing competitor analysis. Uncover which channels are providing the biggest payoff for your competitors and shift your own promotional efforts in that direction (if they aren’t already).
Open Site Explorer
Another way to find content that attracts quality content is to use Open Site Explorer’s “top pages” functionality.
First, head over to Open Site Explorer and enter the domain of of one of your top competitors –
Click on the “top pages” tab –
Now, sort the content by number of referring domains.
Make a list of the top performing pages.
Repeat this for a few of your top competitors.
When it comes to uncovering proven content, you can’t go past Google.
The logic here is simple. Enter a keyword related to your industry –
Scroll through and look at all the sites ranking for that competitive search term. These are probably ranking highly because they have a lot of quality links pointing to them –
To confirm, head over to open site explorer and see which pages have the highest number of referring domains. The pages with the highest number of quality inbound links are going to be your top link poaching targets (more on that later).
On my travels, I came a across a number of posts that listed a few content promotion strategies, but never really got into much detail on the implementation side of things.
There was a lot of the what, but not much of the how.
Despite this, many of the pages were earning hunderds of quality backlinks –
…from trusted domains –
When I saw this alarm bells started ringing!
I knew I could create a piece of content that would add 20 layers of awesomeness to the majority of the content already floating around online.
Bring on step #2…
Step #2: Make It Better On Three Levels
This is where we take the proven content and make it even better.
There are a number of ways you can improve content. I chose to:
- Make it longer
- Make it more in-depth
- Make it immediately actionable
All three elements combine to deliver instant value to the reader. Not only are they receiving information that will make them a more efficient content marketer, anyone can follow along and start implementing the strategies immediately.
Here’s how to do it…
Make It Longer
The simple truth is: longer content has higher perceived value.
Think about it, would you rather read an article titled “5 content promotion strategies”, or “16 Explosive Content Promotion Strategies”?
I’ll go out on a limb here and assume most of you would click on option B first.
When I was researching proven content I came across an article published on The Huffington Post that was titled “5 Steps to Creating a Powerful Content Marketing Strategy”…
…and needless to say, it attracted a few hundred backlinks –
There were a bunch of posts out there listing 5,6,7…up to 11 content promotion strategies.
I decided I was going to write a monster post that covered 17 (get the free 6,000 word ebook) actionable content promotion strategies.
This would help imply a higher level of perceived value.
So, I sat down and made a list of 17 content promotion strategies that met four criteria:
- Applicable in any vertical
- Anyone could implement them
- There were zero barriers to entry (no budget needed….no expensive tools required)
- The strategies could be implemented immediately
After an hour or so I emerged with 17 strategies that met all the criteria listed above.
It was time to add the meat to the bones (so to speak)…
Make It More In-Depth
Another thing I noticed when I was research the existing content out there was that most posts that provided lists of different strategies were just that…
…bulleted lists with very little actionable content –
A lot of the what, but very little of the how.
I set out on a mission to make each strategy a step-by-step implementation guide that any person with any level of online marketing experience could follow and implement.
Doing this will differentiates your post and provides maximum value to your readers.
Heck, it’ll even get you a few pats on the back –
It’s clear that you have a piece of content offers superior value.
This is critical when you begin spreading the word…
Step #3: Promote It Like Your Blog Depends On It
This is the most important step in the entire process.
There are a number of different content strategies I use to promote my posts, which I cover in great detail in this post.
Today, I’m going to touch on a several strategies that helped rocket the post over 10,000 visits in 30 days.
When it comes to content promotion, Buzzbundle is my secret weapon.
Part of the reason the Skyscraper Technique works so well is because you are able to identify the people that have already shared and linked to inferior content in the past…..and then target them.
Instead of trying to engaged a fresh audience, you are engaging with people that have already linked to and shared similar content.
Buzzbundle allows you to monitor and track conversations related to specific keywords and brand mentions across a number of channels, including –
- Social networks
- Q&A sites
It allows you to quickly find your target audience and engage in the conversations related to your content…as they are happening (I’m putting together a 30 day case study on the tool…stay tuned for that!).
Here’s how to do it –
Once you have installed Buzzbundle, open it up and hit “create new project.
Next, click “create new stream” and enter the keywords and URLs you want to track. For this example we’ll use “content marketing” as our seed keyword target (add as many as you want) –
Wait a few minutes for the tool to load.
You will then see a list of streams (social media, Q&A sites, forums, video sharing sites) highlighting content and active online conversations related to your target keyword group –
There is a free version of the tool available. The free account currently gives you access to 30% of the threads, which is still plenty to engage and promote your content to the right people.
If you want to take it to another level check out the PRO package. I just signed up for it. It gives you thousands of relevant streams to target…in minutes. Case study to come 🙂
Create A Persona
After you’ve selected the keywords and URLs you want to track, it’s time to create your persona. This is the identity you will be using to engage in conversations online –
Type in your username, password, email and email password. BuzzBundle requests the password to your email account in order for verification purposes.
Then, you can add your social media profiles –
Now you’re ready to start buzzing!
Get Your Buzz On
Once you have your persona completed and keywords added click the “Find Buzz” button. You can also filter the types of websites you want to monitor –
BuzzBundle will go out and scrape all the content listed on social media sites, forums, blogs and Q&A sites related to your keywords.
Once you find a post that you like start engaging. I look for people asking questions related to the content I have already written.
For example, this person is asking about different link building techniques on Twitter. You would engage this person –
And provide him with a link to your post –
Or, you might find a question in a forum that you can drop your link in –
BuzzBundle provides you with the ability to filter social media conversations. This is great if you find a piece of content similar to what you have written that has gained a lot of social engagement –
Enter the post’s URL into the search filter and look through all the people that engaged with that post.
This functionality feeds into the hear of the Skyscraper Technique, promoting content to the right people.
LinkedIn groups are one of the most powerful, yet underrated content marketing channels.
It accounts for 64% of all corporate websites traffic that comes via social media channels.
LinkedIn groups provide the following opportunities –
- Targeted content promotion
- Direct line of communication with industry influencers
- Relationship building
On August 1, I launched my “killer link building guide“. I shared this post in 5 targeted LinkedIn Groups.
The post has received over 4,500 visits in that last 7 weeks…
…and 629 of those visits (13%) came from LinkedIn. Not bad for taking 5 minutes to share the post in a handful of groups.
Head over to LinkedIn and select “groups” from the dropdown next to the search bar. Enter a keyword related to your niche –
You will see a list of groups related to the keyword you entered.
Some of these groups have tens of thousands of members –
These are people that have an expressed interest in that topic….people who are much more likely to engage with your content.
Request to join any groups related to your content and blog.
Submit your post within the group.
Last time I checked, you could join up to 50 groups.
Take it to another level…
LinkedIn groups are the perfect platform to build relationships with other professionals and influencers in your industry.
Take the opportunity to get granular with your content promotion strategy. For example, let’s assume you’re trying to get your content in front of the decision makers of startups.
I’d head over to LinkedIn and look for a group such as Business Owners, Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups –
Then, I’d hit the “members” tab and do a search for CEO –
This will bring up a list of start-up CEOs. These are ready-made business prospects –
You can use a similar approach for almost any industry.
Make sure you engage with other content and members within the community. This is a fantastic way to build connections with influencers in your industry and build your personal brand.
But wait, there’s more…
LinkedIn Groups also provide the opportunity to get inside an influencer’s inbox without even having their email address.
This opens pandora’s box when it comes to content amplification. Just think, get an influencer such as Brian Dean to link to your content and you could get hundreds of new eyes on your content immediately –
However, you do need to have a connection with them.
One way to build connections with influencers is to build connections with their connections (become a 2nd degree connection).
However, the quickest way to build a connection with an influencer on LinkedIn is to look at their profile and identify the groups they members of.
Join any groups the influencer is a member of.
As a member of a shared group, you’ll be able to send a connection request.
Once the influencer accepts your invitation to connect, you’ll be able to send them a direct message.
Your connection will then receive a notification in their email inbox.
Here is a sample message you could use –
Weekly link roundups are another grossly underrated content promotion strategy. Where else can you find people that are actively looking to link (and send targeted traffic) to your content?
If you’re not familiar with roundups, they are simply blog posts that link out to the week’s best content.
The key here is to find roundups that have a large readership and receive a ton of social engagement.
When done right, you could land your content on reputable roundups such as this one from Matthew Woodward…
….. or Buffer –
….. or Linkarati –
Two of these roundups sent 786 hits to my content promotion post –
Here’s how to do it –
Enter the following search strings into Google:
“link roundup” + your industry
“weekly link roundup” + your industry
~KW + “link roundup”
~KW + “best articles of the week”
“KW” + inurl:roundup
“KW” + intitle:roundup
If there is a particular site that you would like to see if they publish a link roundup, type the following search string –
Make sure you set it so Google is only returning search results for the past month –
Next, head over to Twitter and run the queries in the search bar –
Make a list of the sites publishing roundups on a regular basis and take note of their contact information.
Now it’s a matter of reaching out to the bloggers and suggesting your content.
Here is the exact template I use –
P.S. Would love to know what you think about the post?
This strategy is extremely effective for three reasons:
- prospects are actively looking for great content to promote to their readers
- you can leverage the audiences of influencers and tap into a new audience
- scalable in virtually any niche
Tip: when pitching content for weekly roundups make sure it is your absolute best content.
Forum marketing is a powerhouse when it comes to content promotion. Let me show you what I mean.
Take a look at the referral traffic report in my Google Analytics account below and you will see that Inbound.org (online marketing forum) has sent my blog almost 2,000 visits in the 60 days since launch –
In fact, it is my #1 source of referral traffic –
So, how do you identify relevant niche forums that can drive serious traffic to your site?
Head over to Google and enter the following search strings –
“keyword” + “forum”
“keyword” + “forums”
“keyword” + “powered by vbulletin” (vbulletin is a software used to create and manage forums)
“keyword” + “hot thread with new posts”
“keyword” + “board”
These search strings should give you a bunch of relevant niche forums to investigate.
But, if you don’t find any relevant forums using those search strings, you can try using Boardreader, a search engine for forums.
Here’s how to do it –
First, head over to Boardreader.com and enter a term related to your niche. Make sure you select forums in the top left of the page –
Next, find forums that your target audience would hang out on. This one looks promising –
Now, head over to the forum and assess whether or not it is an active/ quality forum worth targeting –
Since there is no active user metric you will want to pay close attention to the date since last post as well as the engagement level. The Higher Rankings forum meets both criteria (fresh and active).
Warrior Forum would be another one that might be worth adding to your list of forums to target.
First, register for the forum. It’s very important to use your brand or personal name as your username.
Then, add your forum signature. This is the piece that is going to drive the traffic to your site. Make sure you include a ‘benefit-driven’ CTA signature to entice people to click through to your site –
If you want to real clever, make your signature link through to a squeeze page to quickly build your email list.
*Tip: Do NOT use exact match anchor text in forum links. This can end up triggering a Penguin penalty.
Once you’ve completed your signature, head back over to forum home page and find an active thread related to your area of expertise –
Click a relevant thread and identify a discussion topic to start engaging in. I know quite a lot about backlinks so this topic from yesterday with 422 views looks like one that is worth exploring –
Simply adding one or two valuable comments a day can send hundreds of new visitors to your site.
Take it further…
Now, if you want to ramp up the forum traffic strategy, start submitting your own threads.
The great thing about this strategy is you can re-purpose your content. For example, I can simply copy and paste my link building strategies post and add it as a text post –
Head over to one of the niche forums and identify a handful of members that regularly curate content. Pay close attention to the number of shares and ratings for that particular member.
Engage with the content they post, and then make an effort to connect with them on Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn.
A good way to initiate this connection is to share a piece of their own content and then mention their handle. This will alert them and immediately put you on their radar.
Once you have built a relationship with these forum influencers, give them a heads up every time you post an epic piece of content. Better still, feature them in an expert roundup or reference their work in a post. This will dramatically increase the chances of them sharing your content in the forums.
Here’s an example –
I was fortunate to have Umar Khan, a prominent curator on the Inbound.org forum share my content promotion post –
The post got upvoted 119 times and was featured at the top of Inbound for a week –
…and sent 1,324 people to the post –
….which was eventually picked up and featured as a top 10 submission in the Moz monthly Digest –
This sent a ton of traffic to my site –
Getting featured on prominent industry forums can open the traffic floodgates and even land you guest post opportunities.
And….business leads –
Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to submit your own awesome content to forums. When you do this, reach out to a handful of your twitter friends and ask them to upvote your content.
A quick initial surge in upvotes can get your content in “trending” categories. This instantly exposes your content to a HUGE audience.
The best way to build links to (and promote) your content is to find people that have already linked to similar content and introduce them to your new (and improved) content.
The Skyscraper Technique is built to exploit this powerful promotion technique.
First, do a quick search in Google to identify topics similar to yours (use your research from step #1) –
Next, copy the URL of the top result. This piece of content likely has a large number of quality links pointing to it.
Enter the URL into your backlink checker of choice –
Navigate over to the “inbound links” section and select the “links” option –
This will give you a list of all the pages linking to the URL –
Now, if you don’t have a paid subscription to any of the backlink checkers you’re going to have to do a little more legwork to extract a large number of link prospects….but, it’s still very doable.
There are two other link checkers I recommend. Both tools offer free versions that will give you a ton of link prospects.
SEO Spyglass is part of the SEO Powersuite and is one of my absolute favorite backlink checkers.
It runs as a piece of desktop software.
Recent updates have it pulling more backlinks than Ahrefs and Majestic SEO combined.
The best feature of this tool is the analysis you can do for each backlink prospect. The free version will check if the links are live, display anchor text, page rank scores, social shares and alexa rank. All of this information is real-time fresh data.
The “linked-to page” analysis is my favorite piece of data. This shows which content your competitors are using to attract backlinks. This saves you a lot of guess work when tweaking your own content strategy.
The tool also allows you to toggle between the different types of backlinks, including links from blogs, forums and directories.
If you are using the free version of SEO Spyglass you will be limited to 1,100 backlinks for each URL, and you won’t be able to export the results. My advice, focus on the backlinks that have a PR of two or above.
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer is part of the Moz SEO tool suite.
The free account will give you a list of 50 backlinks for each URL.
By default, Open Site Explorer provides a list of both internal and external links. In order to filter the list so that you only get external backlinks, select “external only” from the “links from” dropdown.
Pay close attention to the page and domain authority for each backlink. The higher the authority the more page rank (link juice) the URL will pass onto your site.
You can also filter out the “top pages” to get a quick look at the most “link-worthy” content on the site –
Copy all the email addresses from the different backlink checkers and add them to a master excel spreadsheet.
Head over to each site and copy the contact email address.
Reach out to the webmaster with this template –
Google Plus Communities
Google Plus communities provide a targeted channel to promote your content.
As the name implies, Google Plus communities are online groups where like-minded individuals interact and share content.
There are thousands of communities targeting almost every industry and topic under the sun.
Once you have written your piece of content, head over to Google Plus and select “communities” from the left navigation –
In the top search bar enter a keyword related to your industry or the topic of your content. Scroll through and join all the communities related to your niche –
Next, copy the URL of your content and head back over to your Google Plus profile.
Paste the URL into the “link” box and add an attention-grabbing message –
When posting your content be sure to mention others you have referenced in your work (where applicable) and select the relevant community you want to post the content.
This is a particularly effective tactic if you have written an expert roundup.
Pick a Google Plus community that is related to your content and has a large number of members.
Like you did above, add a link to your post and add an attention-grabbing message.
However, this time you are going to mention every influencer from your roundup –
This will send them a notification that you have mentioned them in your post…
….and many of them will plus one or share your content –
This is powerful as many of the influencers in your post will have a large number of Google Plus followers –
When possible, mention brands and influencers in your Google Plus posts and you’re content will get amplified and send a nice stream of traffic your way –
Time It Just Right
When promoting your content on social media, timing is everything.
Every day millions of blog posts are shared across social media channels, so it’s critical you’re posting content when your audience is online.
Here’s how to do it –
Tweriod is a free tool that tells you when the largest number of your followers are online and engaging with content –
Hit the “go to dashboard” button on the homepage and then sign in with your Twitter account.
Next, click the “my analysis” tab.
Now, you can see the times when the largest number of your Twitter followers are online, as well as the times when your content is likely to get the most exposure –
Take this insight and optimize the times at which you are scheduling your content to go out on Twitter.
The facebook insights tool is great for identifying when your fans are online.
Log into your facebook account and click the “insights” tab –
Then, hit the “posts” tab –
Now you can see which days, and at what times, your fans are on facebook –
Timing + is a free tool that will give you a quick snapshot of the best times to post on Google Plus.
Head over to Timing + and sign in with your Google account.
You will then be able to see which posts have performed that best and which time of the day posts get the most engagement –
Now, head over to Buffer and begin scheduling your content when people are online –
Bonus Tip: I see many bloggers fall victim to what I call “set it- forget it” syndrome. A person will write an epic piece of content, identify optimal posting time, and then post the content once, usually right after it gets published.
This is a HUGE waste.
What happens if your readers aren’t online at the time you post?
Your content never gets read, which means it never gets shared or linked to, which means you get zero traffic.
That doesn’t mean you should go back over to Buffer and start scheduling the content to go out every day for the next month using the same headline. You’ll just piss people off.
Instead, use snippets.
Here is a general rule for posting snippets that has served me well in the past:
- Post once a day to Twitter the first week after publishing. Then, post twice a week for the next three weeks.
- Post twice to facebook in the month after publishing.
- Post to a different Google Plus community each week for four weeks after publishing.
Identifying optimal post times while leveraging snippets can send a nice stream of traffic to your site….
…and increase the level of social engagement –
That’s A Wrap
As you can see, the Skyscraper Technique is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal. A big thanks to Brian Dean for sharing this gem.
I used this exact approach to write and promote a post that generated over 10,000 visits in 30 days, without spending a single penny.
And, you can too.
The beauty of this approach is that it removes a lot of the guess work from your content marketing efforts. No more spray and pray.
Instead, find a piece of proven content, make it better and then promote it like crazy. The result, a post people can’t help but share and link to.
If you found this post helpful, please feel free to share it with your friends or subscribe to my newsletter.
Give the Skyscraper technique a try for yourself. Just follow the steps listed above and you’ll be on your way to opening the traffic floodgates.
Leave a comment below and let me know how you go!