As link builders, our average conversion rate is often in the 4% to 10% range.
Let’s say you aimed for the sky, found the best piece of content in your niche, analyzed it, and created something better. You contacted everyone who linked to that original piece of content, which you outdid by a huge margin. And then, since you were trying to be realistic, you found 100 more sites for your outreach list.
You personalized your emails as much as you could. You followed-up multiple times, always remaining polite, while selling the value of your content.
You spent 30 hours on a piece of content, 15 hours building a prospecting list, and 15 hours of outreach, communication, and follow-ups. You sent 200 emails.
And, for all that work and effort, you only walk away with 10 links.
The thing with the famed Skyscraper Technique is we set out expectations unrealistically high and trap ourselves in a little box.
You’re in a box because you’re bound to your competitors best content and links.
But the truth is: You really don’t have to live in a box and limit yourself to what your competitors are doing.
You don’t have to outdo a huge guide of ‘101 science fair projects’ with an even bigger guide to ‘115 science fair projects’.
Don’t get me wrong– sometimes that method works.
But, more often than not, it doesn’t and you only have a handful of links to show for it.
Realistically, you won’t be taking every link from the ‘101 science fair projects’ page with your ‘115 science fair projects’ page.
And realistically you must still generate your own list of prospects, as you would with any other campaign. A list that will probably be 10x larger than the links your competitor has.
But you can easily break out of that box, without abandoning the concept of creating “epic content.”
You can do this by taking inspiration from other blockbuster content.
And regardless if they are your competitor or related to your industry you can apply that content to your niche.
Instead of copying or trying to one-up our competitors, let’s broaden our horizons and find epic content unrelated to our specific niche to generate content ideas.
Example 1: Infographic
First, let’s take a look at one of the most common forms of linkable asset— the infographic.
This is a good looking and informative infographic, and the subject matter is good– model trains are a niche hobby, to be sure, but model railroad hobbyists are passionate people who are always seeking to learn more about their favorite subject.
To top off a good infographic, ModelBuildings.org also produced a great piece of written content to accompany it. It expands on the infographic, and I imagine it would be a good starting place for the budding hobbyist.
You could realistically produce an infographic like this, too.
Even if you had to hire a designer, it still wouldn’t be a big resource sink if you did the research. And you could also do a nice writeup like ModelBuildings did, which includes added value to the page itself– you’re more likely to get a text link to the page instead of just an infographic embed.
But it seems pretty obvious to me that ModelBuildings didn’t put too much time into link building. According to Ahrefs, this infographic has about 100 links from 6 different domains.
Every link is hyper-relevant, so people appreciate it– they’re just finding out about it on their own, more likely than not.
Breaking It Down: This infographic is good because it shows the history of model trains, and also shows how they changed along with technology. It’s aesthetically appealing, simple, and easy to read. It’s relevant to model hobbyists, people who like trains in general, people who enjoy toys and collectibles in general, and history buffs.
They also added real value with the written content on the page.
Inspiration: So, what can you take away from this?
Obviously, you can see that infographics are still good content. But, you can also dig a little bit deeper.
This website sells model buildings, which are generally purchased by model railroading hobbyists. But instead of making an infographic about model buildings, they thought a little bit bigger and broader– they made an infographic about the history of model trains. This appeals beyond their audience of people who build intricate model railroad setups.
If they want links, this is a good way to go. They didn’t try to outdo any other model train infographics. Instead, they put their own spin on it, added some extra value, and made a good piece of content.
They also link to all of their other linkable content assets on the infographic page, just to get you more invested. Those are more focused on people who might buy some of their model buildings. So, it works from a digital marketing perspective, and it could work very nicely from a link building perspective.
So, how does this apply to you?
Really, a historical infographic can work well in any niche.
Let’s say your website sells bedding and pillows. You could easily do an infographic that focuses on how on-screen beds in movies and TVs have changed over the years. You could keep it simple for the infographic, citing famous shows and movies. Then, you could create a 750 word piece of content for the infographic page, explaining how textiles have become both more affordable and more comfortable over time. And, if you wanted to sleep like Audrey Hepburn, you could just head over to a product page.
This goes broader because it will appeal to fans of films and television, but it will also appeal to people who are always window shopping for newer, more comfortable bedding. Mommy bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, beauty bloggers, fashion bloggers, and health bloggers.
All potentially good links for a bedding-focused eCommerce site, or a local store that sells the same.
Now, do a quick Google search for “(your niche) infographic” and see what you find. Select a good one, and then think about it in the context of this model railroad infographic.
Getting any ideas?
Example 2: 101 Guide
Next, let’s take a look at another popular form of content– the 101 guide.
These guides help total beginners get started on any given project. It could be sewing, macro photography, blogging, basket weaving, or playing keno.
If you try to out-skyscraper any one of these guides in a saturated niche, you’re going to be disappointed with the amount of links you get.
Still, 101 guides are worth taking a look at because they can provide us with inspiration, and because they can encourage us to try in a different direction.
I recommend taking a look at a guide not related to your niche at all.
Let’s check out Timothy Sykes’ Pennystocking 101, which is about as far away from link building as you can get.
But I love this guide. Timothy does a great job with his sales pitch, to be sure. He lets you feel like he’s letting you in on a secret. He makes you feel like he’s going to help you. And he just might. I don’t know for sure since I’ve never actually traded penny stocks. But I do know this is a good guide.
Breaking it Down: If you’re seeking out this guide, you probably don’t know much about penny stocks, either. But you want to learn.
Timothy Sykes knows the secret to a good 101 guide– making your audience feel comfortable. With any 101 guide, you’re getting in over your head. You’re trying to learn about something complex, and you’re trying to learn it well enough to actually do it.
This guide is comprehensive, and it’s broken down into easily digestible parts. It’s well designed and it’s not hard to understand, even for a pretty esoteric subject.
But what sets it apart is that you have a full guided tour of penny stocking. Through this 101 guide, you get to know Timothy, and he personally guides you through everything. It’s not dry or stuffy.
In fact, it’s downright linkable.
You don’t feel like you’re on a leaky boat in uncharted waters with this guide. You feel like you’re in good hands.
And that’s why this guide has so many links.
Inspiration: First, look up “(your industry) 101 Guide” and see what you come up with. Skim through a few of them, and then go back to Timothy Sykes’ guide.
Chances are, the guides you found are impersonal and boring compared to his.
What’s something you could realistically, personally help someone accomplish?
If we go back to the bedding store, maybe that something is just folding a fitted sheet, or finding a good textile for every sleeping style. The subject matter doesn’t have to be super exciting, because that’s where you come in.
Write your 101 guide like you’re the tour guide. Make your readers feel comfortable plugging ahead with something they’ve never tried before. Let them get to know you, and let them trust you.
Impart your knowledge to them, even if it’s just about something small. You can build something linkable by taking a personable, easily digestible approach like Timothy Sykes does.
Your job is to hold your reader’s hand through complex, possibly intimidating material. Make them feel comfortable and confident, and you’ll have yourself a stellar linkable asset.
Keep it simple, not stuffy.
Example 3: Ultimate Guide
Next, we come to ultimate guides.
Many people think of these as the “be all, end all” of linkable assets.
You also have to know the difference between 101 guides and ultimate guides. A 101 guide is for beginners. An ultimate guide is for people who are already hardcore about any given subject– they just want to do it better than everyone else. They know the basics, and they want to dominate.
Let’s use Android Central’s Pokemon Go: The Ultimate Guide as an example.
This is how they start the guide:
“If you’re here, it’s because you want to become the best Pokémon trainer that you can be. If you’re just getting started with Pokémon Go, then you should check out our guide to getting started before diving in here. This guide is for those of you who are grinding levels, capturing Pokémon and taking over Gyms.
As you know by now, there is a lot going on with Pokémon Go, and we’re going to detail most of it out for you here.”
They also provide a link, right up front, for parents whose kids are playing the game. They’ve covered all of their bases, and they’ve identified their audience right out of the gate.
Breaking it Down: This guide succeeds from the start because Android Central does something most ultimate guides don’t do, and they do it in the first two paragraphs– they identify who the guide is not for.
This lets the hardcore Pokemon Go players know they’ve found the right bit of content, and it means they’re more likely to share it with their friends.
If you were doing outreach for this guide, it would be a breeze. Seasoned gamers, Pokemon fanatics, mobile gamers, anime fans, and obsessed kids all feel like they’ve struck gold. It could earn links from geek culture blogs, mobile game blogs, anime blogs, Pokemon blogs, general game blogs, and more.
This guide keeps it simple, but it doesn’t pander and it doesn’t waste time. I don’t know much about this game, other than remembering when it was on the news 24/7, but this guide goes at a brisk pace and is full of actual details from people who have succeeded playing Pokemon Go.
It’s long and detailed, but there’s no fluff. It respects the reader’s time, so they can find what they need and get back to the game.
Inspiration: So, how do you find inspiration in this? Making something like this ultimate guide seems pretty overwhelming, right? It does to me.
Instead of getting overwhelmed, do a search for “(your industry) ultimate guide” or “(your hobby) ultimate guide.” Read a few pages, and then ask yourself– what do you wish they’d addressed?
What was missing?
Figure out what the guides in your industry haven’t covered, and then make an ultimate guide that answers those questions.
Identify who the guide is not for. The guide is not for the people who were satisfied with those other guides– it’s for the people who cared enough, who are hardcore enough to have the same questions you did.
Just like the Pokemon Go guide isn’t for beginners, yours shouldn’t be a 101 course. It should dig deeper into the unexplored, and ignore the already-covered territory entirely.
Back to the bedding retailer example– if you dug through several textile guides but found their coverage on certain skin conditions lacking, you could put together an ultimate guide to help people with Rosacea find an ideal pillow, blanket, and sheet combination to fit both their skin condition and sleep style.
- The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Money-Making Blog in 47 Minutes
- Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Ultimate Guide to Healing Back Pain
Example 4: Resource Page
Finally, we’ll take a look at the venerable Resource Page.
Creating a resource page is actually fairly easy, especially compared to the other linkable assets above.
As humans, when we’re interested in something, we want to consume every bit of knowledge about it that we can. That goes for hobbies, but it also goes for mastering our trades and professions.
We want to know more and get better, and that’s where a good resource page can earn some major links.
Let’s look at Medassure Services’ “The Definitive Guide To Medical Staff Training.”
Though it is a guide in many ways, it’s also an excellent resource page. It contains links to everything you need to know about HIPAA compliance, OSHA standards, customer service, creating training programs, and much, much more.
It contains links to everything you need to know about HIPAA compliance, OSHA standards, customer service, creating training programs, and much, much more.
It’s more attractive than your average resource page, and it’s also better organized. It’s still a killer resource page where you can find everything you need to know about training a medical staff, all in one place.
Breaking it Down: This resource page succeeds because it leaves no stone unturned. It also succeeds because it breaks this huge wealth of information down into bite size chunks.
If there’s something you want to know about training your medical staff, it’s probably in here.
A good resource page is thorough, and this one is as thorough as you can get.
Many resource pages are just random collections of links. It seems like someone with a short attention span just adds links whenever it strikes their fancy, and there’s no real end goal.
A thorough, goal-oriented resource page is much more formidable than a haphazard, amateur resource page.
Inspiration: The bedding store could build a resource page for healthy sleep supplements, or it could build a resource page that helps people keep pets off of their beds. It could combine those two resources with other ideas, as well.
Resource pages are a living document. You can always add and subtract links as you go.
But always keep your resource page focused and goal-oriented. Identify exactly how it should help your audience, and then you’ll have a linkable asset. This is one scenario where you probably can outdo your competitors without overextending your resources.
- Parents of Children with Food Allergies
- National Association of Automobile Museums List
- 21 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Free Stock Photos
When you’re thinking about creating a linkable asset, know you don’t have to break the bank.
Don’t get trapped in a box, where you think your bound to everyone else in your industry.
Instead, try to go in a different direction.
Poke around and see what people in other industries are up to.
Instead of being the ‘copycat’ of your industry, it’s your time to become the trailblazer!