What is Skyscraper Content?

In Google’s webmaster guidelines, it is stated that links should be earned as the result of a grounded link building strategy. In order to “earn” your popular links, you need to make sure there is value in the work the link leads to. You need better content than your competitors, something in demand because your readers love it.

Skyscraper content comes from a strategy technique rather than just a topic. It helps you get those high ranking link placements by using insight from other high ranking content.

Step 1: Find existing content that you can make better. If there’s room for improvement, there’s room for you.

Finding popular content to make a skyscraper opportunity from can be done through keyword research, or browsing the competition. In my research, I found that a lot of people use tools like Site Explorer to do the research for them. From the results you get, you can decide which of the sites has the best content. Site Explorer has a tab to help you with this called “Best by links”. This will pull the sites with the most link authority, aiming for anything with more than 50 other sites linking back to it.

Content Explorer will help you zero in on the most mentioned keywords and phrases in your niche. It will help you search the internet for sites with lots of back links, and even gives you the filters to help you find the BEST references. (Set your “referring domains” filter to 50).

Step 2: Now that you found the content you can make better, make it better.

If you found something that has a lot of authority and knowledge to share, ask yourself if you can actually make it better. Or is this your goal? There are four key ideas to look at when you’re trying to decide if you can elevate a piece.

  • Length – Did you find a top 10 list? Cool, make it 20!
  • Up to date – How old is the article you found? Are there newer studies? Newer statistics? Is the picture showing an author with an afro and a jumpsuit? Update everything! Make sure everything you have is within 2 years of your current date. This way you stay relevant for a while longer.
  • Visual – How is the design? People say you eat with your eyes. Guess what else you do with your eyes, you read. Can you read the page well? Do the colors not match? Make sure your updated epic version is easy on the eyes.
  • Authority – If I can name 5 ways to fill out your character profile with a paragraph to detail every way, and you say I can do it in 10 ways!; I better get more than a sentence for each. Make sure you’re showing your authority and knowhow, not just getting in a size battle.

Step 3: You have knowledge, share it.

This will take a little sweet talking, but if you can swing it, it’ll be worth it. Instead of sending your piece to family and friends to share on social media, reverse the search and talk to the sites that referenced the article. If I used a guide to self publishing article from four years ago, and you found a better way to do it with more recent tools, don’t you think I should link to YOUR article?

The idea here is that you would use that Site Explorer from earlier, and search the link to the article you found. You’ll get a list of people that linked that article on their page, that maybe should link to yours instead. Reach out to them, let them know you have updated information for their post and see if they’ll send some traffic your way. Remember to point out that all it takes for them, will be updating a hyperlink in their post.

Long article short, if you find something you can make better, make sure you’re really making it better. Don’t outdo the numbers just for kicks and giggles, really aim for your value here. This is your brand. This is your business. 20% cooler is an improvement. Don’t aim for 50% better if you can’t deliver the support to back it up.

What is Cornerstone Content?

A cornerstone in masonry is the first stone set during construction. It is the initial foundation of the rest of the building, and what the rest of the stones rely on.

Cornerstone content is the foundation for the rest of your content. This is the core of your website, and consists of the best and most important articles on your site. This is often the pages or posts that rank highest in the search engines. The purpose isn’t to content dump in your field and overload your readers, but to define your brand and become an authority. The length of an article shouldn’t be dragged out for no reason, and it is especially true for cornerstone pieces. The function should be the focus so you can build your voice off of it.

Follow the steps below to help your cornerstone content stand strong.

  1. Optimize for your readers.
    • Make sure your keywords are optimized. This will get your readers to you.
    • Answer the questions your readers will have. If your page is about your book, give them the information on your target audience, book length, genre, and the blurb.
  2. Don’t content dump your market.
    • You want to be an authority, not a know it all. Don’t overdo it, aim for 3-5 solid pieces that you can spin off of.
    • It’s easy to run away with your topics, so make sure you’re only adding the important pieces.
  3. Organize your site navigation.
    • Internal links to your supporting content cut down on tangents, and you should use them. But again, don’t overdo it. If your articles are 50% internal links, you need to edit some things.
    • Make sure your site navigation is functional and simple for your audience. If you have to click here to click there and find the subheading, that’s too much. You’ll lose your audience.
  4. Do your research.
    • Know your market, and what is popular. Find out what people are searching in your niche, what are the most frequently searched terms? Use them!
    • Break your market down into the main topics and the subcategories that naturally come up. This is how you plan your content.
  5. Map your support.
    • Your main topics should be your cornerstone content. This should cover the general idea briefly.
    • The depth of your knowledge should come in the form of your support. If your page has “Publishing”, your posts on the page should be “Traditional”, “Self Publishing”, and anything that you need to do at this stage of your novel.

There are many different perspectives on cornerstone or “evergreen” content, but once you understand what it is used for, and what it is made of, you’re on a good path. Your priority? Your audience. How do they find you? Can they trust your content? Is it easy to find and navigate? Your cornerstone content is the pillar of your website, and should stand on the supporting information you create.

Any questions? Leave a comment below!

Book Review: Ready Player One

IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within the world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win – and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

-Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (Goodreads)

Ready Player One captures the challenges that emerge from new and ubiquitous technology and is an exciting work of science fiction โ€” it gives us a peek into the future of current technologies but also is heavily influenced by our past pop culture. While the novelโ€™s context is a dystopian world โ€” for me, it is a challenge to us to hopefully create a better structure for deploying future technologies โ€” one that truly uplifts the human condition instead of just allowing us to escape our real challenging realities.

Though Wade Watts and his motley crew wins against the evil corporation IOI in the end, thereby, taking control of the Oasis and the company behind itโ€” serious questions remain โ€” can their young team truly manage this global online meta-verse and hopefully help humanity rebuild the physical world? Or will they become victims of their own success, amassing wealth at the expense of continuing a legacy of helping humans escape reality using VR technology?

Halliday’s Easter egg isn’t the only symbol of ultimate power in the novel either. Halliday also built an exit button into the code of the OASIS that would wipe the game completely at his will. The handing over of so much power to his successor is a potentially life altering action for everyone in the year 2044. The game is a commonly used escape from the crumbling world they all live in that allows anyone to do and be anything. Better education, entertainment with zero gravity, and quests for those who wish to be heroes balance on the button being ignored. The exit button is glimpsed, but it’s never said whether Wade has decided to use it or not.

But the fact that the button was built, means that Halliday himself was unsure of the value of the game. Does this reflect the uncertainty of technology? Or just how addictive the game could become? It did make him a virtual god (see what I did there?) in the game and in real life. Perhaps Halliday was provoked by the absolute power, and the desire not to abuse it, to create such a button.

We will have to read Ready Player Two to be sure what happens with Wade in charge. But in the meantime, this is a great read. Personally it is one of my favorites. The movie is also one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen from page to screen. I first read the book in 2014, so the dystopian theme was at it’s height. Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner. So when RPO was announced, and finally released as a movie in 2018, I was stoked. I loved this book. I’m pretty sure I only sat down to open the book three times before I finished it. I re-read it for this blog, and in preparation for Ready Player Two, and I still love this book. If you haven’t experienced the world created by Ernest Cline, you need to find it now. Or, whenever you have time.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline / 384 pages / YA / Science Fiction / Dystopian 

How To Complete A Content Audit

When you have a blog, or a writing website of any kind, and you come back from sabbatical, one of the first things you need to do is complete a content audit. In order to complete a content audit, you’ll need to understand it. What this idea boils down to is going through the process of evaluating content elements.

Now I know what you’re thinking, audits are horrible, but I promise that this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Besides, it’s all your own creation right? If you can’t enjoy reading your own posts, you shouldn’t post it for someone else to read. But reading every post you have to find the less than decent ones would be extremely time consuming, not to mention hard to organize.

So here’s my method of tackling this huge, yet crucial, task.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you know what your website is about. If you have a business, you already know. If like me you just have a website for a blog, think about your theme. I started my blog originally for creative writing, but after a year off for a new job, I realized I could be putting my site to better use with the knowledge I have that could be helping others. For me, I added a page and a category that will separate my more professional writing from my creative outlet.

Secondly, you need to do a thorough check of your content stats. There are a few steps to the second checklist. The key factors you should look for are the following:

  1. Run traffic stats for each post. But what is website traffic? Website traffic just tells you how many visitors your pages are getting. Thankfully WordPress has tools to show you this kind of information. It even tells you where in the world your visitors are coming from! I have yet to find a use for that information, but it’s really cool to see where my page is popping up. These stats will let you know which topics are doing well and which aren’t so hot.
  2. Reevaluate target keywords where needed. Your keywords are the very words that bring people to your website from places like Google, and Bing. This factor falls under the SEM umbrella. The definition of Search Engine Marketing has evolved over the years, so it really depends on how you want to view things, or how your hired marketing agency views things. Most of the things I’ve found seem to lump in paid search and organic search into the same SEM group. So figure out which keywords are drawing people in more, and maybe edit the ones that aren’t.
  3. How much engagement does each post have? You can check the number of visitors on each post, but you can also look at your stats and see how many people have liked, commented, or shared your post. During this process you want to make sure you have social share buttons on each of your posts. If you’re not getting a lot of interaction and you have all your sharing features turned on, you need to take a closer look at the content on that page.

Ok, now what? I know which posts and pages are ranking better than others, what do I do with that? Simple, you move to the third stage of the audit and put it them in categories. It’s just like cleaning out your closet. There’s things you keep, things that can’t be saved, and things that someone else could use. Your content is the same. Can you keep it, improve it, or does it just need to go? This is also where you have to keep your website theme in mind, is there something that’s so left field it doesn’t fit? Probably time to trash it. Or start a new blog?

The forth stage of the audit is to inspect your media. Do you have any old images or videos that need to be switched out? Have you used the same image multiple times? Do all of your images seem to be of the same style? How many pictures of laptops do you have? People on their cell phones? Yeah, I’m guilty of it too. This could be the time to update your photos too. How old is that picture of you? Do you need to update it? Yeah, me too.

And the last thing to do for the content audit is by far the most tedious. The URL dump. WordPress has a business level for their site subscriptions that seem to have a feature to do this for you, but if you’re like me, you have to opt for manual. Take every link to ever page, post, or reference to your website, and stick it in a Google doc.

  1. How many links do you have that point away from your site? Do you need this link? If it’s a reference to avoid plagiarism or stealing of any kind, definitely keep it. But maybe add it as a footnote for those who are interested? Can any be replaced to route to another of your own articles? This is how you keep people on your site, by leading them to your site.
  2. How many links do you have that keep your users internal? Any time you can point back to your own website, do it. You don’t want your whole page to be covered in hyperlinks, but if you have another article that would support what you’re saying, you could link it!
  3. Are all of your links functional? If you have broken links, they need to be replaced or deleted. That drives me crazy when I go to a website and I click on a link and get that 404 error, website not found message. On the same wave length, do your links lead where they are supposed to? If I click a link that says I’m going to get redirected to a page with character profile worksheets and really get directed to a page that has a long post about this tv show I’ve never heard of, I’ll be mad. I will be far less likely to come back to that site in the future.

So there you have it. A content audit in a nutshell. Questions? Concerns? Wanna chat more about this? Need a hand? Subscribe, or like, or fill out the contact form here. And good luck!

How Do SERP’s Work?

Welcome back! I assume you’ve already read my post about what SERP’s are? If not, you should really start there. I’ll still be here when you get back, don’t worry.

So now that you know what SERP’s are, and the different types of searches and results, it’s time to talk about how the SERP’s are actually generated. In my last post I glazed over how the process works. Remember I said that if you’re in Maine, you probably won’t appear at the top of an SERP in Arizona? Well that’s true. It’s also true, that even if your user is in Maine with you, they could have your competitors in their browsing history and it will default that company higher up the page.

The first big part of this is the type of result. Organic, or paid.

So if you have optimized your pages to the best of your ability, Google (or whichever other search engine you prefer) will pull your information based on exactly what has been typed into the search bar. If you’re looking for information on Shakespeare; date of birth, birthplace, how many plays he wrote, who his wife and children were; there are relevant pages to each of these things. It’s not usually fit into one page like the papers we all wrote in high school. These are the things that organically populate based on the search engine’s database relating to the keyword or phrase.

In comparison, paid results are exactly what they sound like. You pay for the result you want. There are many kinds of paid ads that you can choose from too. Sometimes you perform a search and see the top few results that have that little tag that says “Ad”, those have been paid. The box that pops up on the side of the website? The one that says sponsored? That was paid.

What about the map that shows up all the time? That’s not necessarily a paid ad. It’s courtesy of the Google My Business listing feature. This is a “directory” listing that enhances the visibility of your business online. It is a very important feature, especially on mobile devices.

Google Factors

The SEO you did for your website will create organic results. These results are then filed into a database that Google can scan whenever a search is performed. There are hundreds if not thousands of different ranking factors that Google uses, however, nobody knows exactly what they are. Some good guesses are location, the number of external links that lead to that website, and your SEO.

If you’ve seen any of my other “Work With Me” articles, you know how important SEO is for your website by now. But did you know there are two branches of search engine optimization?

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO encompasses the best practices that those of us with websites should follow to ensure visibility of our content. We create this content to be discovered and shared right? Well, how do we accomplish that? You give each page you create as much detail in the background as possible. Every element should have details linked to it. Image tags, unique keywords, static URL’s, relevant subheadings and clean titles.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refer to the strategy behind the page. This is where you (and definitely I) need to talk to professionals. From what I understand in research, some of the common techniques include:

  • Link building : this is where you try to get as many links to come back to your website as you can. If you’re a marketing agency, or you work freelance in the field, a quick way to do this is the “website built by ______” in the footer of the page.
  • Content marketing : the process of picking a niche and sticking to it. Consistent content in the same market attracts an audience and gives your site value, which increases shares or profits.
  • Directory listings : where you list your website, on listing websites. Simple as that. Google My Business is a huge plus in this regard. Depending on they kind of business you have, the sites you will want to list on will differ. Do some research. See where you can find your competitors, and list there too!
  • Social media : that’s all you need to know for this one. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. YouTube if that falls in your wheelhouse. Anything that fits your business, get on it.

If you can find yourself an SEO professional to join your team, it is well worth the investment. If not, there are many out there for hire. Freelance, small agencies, large agencies. Or, you can teach yourself, by reading my articles! Questions? Comments? Did I miss something? Drop me a comment or fill out the contact form.

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