Why & How to Tackle Technical SEO Before Link Building

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Why & How to Tackle Technical SEO Before Link Building

So your website isn’t perfect.

Sure, it’s got some broken internal links, perhaps a few small pages of thin content, and maybe just one too many pages without the canonical tags.

In a perfect world, on-page optimization happens before offsite SEO.


Because building links with a website that looks like a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper is like eating a Thanksgiving turkey without gravy.


SEJ conducted a survey and discovered that 39 percent of SEO professionals tackle technical SEO first. And, I’m in that 39 percent.

Before I begin developing my link building strategy, I perform a technical SEO audit.

I want to fix what’s broken on-site before starting off-site.

By analyzing site structure for internal link placement and top-performing pages for linkable assets, I’m able to discover existing content that can help guide my link building strategy.

Find Your Top Pages

For example, I tap into Google Search Console to find the top pages with low click-through rates.

To do this, use the Search Analytics report in Google Search Console and sort by high clicks.

Google Search Console CTR

Next, I’ll use Google Analytics to find the top performing pages in terms of bounce rate and average time on site.

Google Analytics landing page bounce rate

Find 404 Pages

Another tactic I’ll use is crawling the website using Screaming Frog to find 404 errors.

404 errors Screaming Frog

Then, I’ll plug these 404 pages into Moz to see if there are any valuable links pointing to these broken pages.

404 Errors Moz

Finally, I’ll look at my competitors by crawling their site in Screaming Frog.

Competitor 404 errors Screaming Frog

Then plug in their 404 pages in Moz.

Competitor 404 errors Moz

If I find a page with quality links, I use Wayback Machine to see what type of content was there previously.

Wayback competitor broken link

If it’s quality content, I’ll rework it to recreate my own and pitch the people already linking to my competitors broken page.

Do a Backlink Audit

After the technical audit is complete, I’ll pop back into Google Search Console to conduct a backlink audit.

If there are any spammy or irrelevant sites linking to my client over 1,000 times from one page, I’ll add them to my disavow file.


Timeframe: Month 1, 2, 3 and every quarter

Results Detected: 1-4 months after implementation

Tools needed:

  • Screaming Frog
  • DeepCrawl
  • Ahrefs (or Moz)
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics

Link building benefits of technical SEO:

  • Technical SEO will help you get the maximum performance out of your links.
  • Technical SEO like a clean site structure and understanding of PR flow is very key for internal link placement.

Download SEJ's Illustrated Guide to Link Building


Anna Crowe

Assistant Editor & Director of Outreach & PR at Jason Hennessey Consulting

Anna is the Assistant Editor for Search Engine Journal and Director of Outreach & PR for Jason Hennessey Consulting. Over ... [Read full bio]

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