Link Building: .edu and .gov backlinks – are they still worth chasing?

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One of the most important tasks with SEO is link building, something which I’ve written a lot about (you can view all the link building posts here).

As I’ve mentioned before, gaining backlinks from different mediums and channels is crucial, especially when you are chasing tough keywords and the competition are dominating rankings.

Over the years, it has been widely disputed that links from .edu and .gov domains carry more weight, authority and trust than others domains like .com, .co.uk and .org.

So what are .edu and .gov domains…

More about .edu domains from Wikipedia:

“domain is intended for accredited post-secondary educational U.S. institutions”

More about .gov domains from Wikipedia:

“The name is derived from government, indicating its restricted use by government entities in the United States”

As you can see, these are aimed at the US market, the UK versions are .ac.uk and .gov.uk.

The proof…

I’ve two points around this:

1) JohnMu had this to say on a Google Groups post (you can read the post here):

In general, I would like to add that no, backlinks from .EDU domains generally do not get “additional credibility from Google.” Because of that, the whole topic of working especially hard to talk webmasters of these domains into linking to your sites seems a bit problematic.

2) I’ve achieved genuine links from .edu and .gov.uk domains. And I can confirm that I didn’t see any extra boosts within the Google rankings.

My thoughts around the above…

Specifically looking at point 2, achieving these links are difficult and take time, but can be done. I have a few thoughts around why a ranking increase wasn’t seen:

  • The link was placed on a page three levels deep in the site
  • Google might consider these outbound links unnatural based on the domain extension as these domain extensions aren’t typically for commercial use

Personally, the time and effort to achieve these types of genuine links, even if its just one, really devalues this method along with my comments above.

But, I’ve seen packages selling 100 .gov and .edu backlinks?

Whilst the package may look genuine, it isn’t! There are a few blog platforms out there that use .gov or .edu domains but there trust and authority, in my opinion, isn’t the same as typical websites that use these extensions.

Typically a genuine .gov or .edu website will have thousands , if not millions, of backlinks. Take ‘The White House’ (http://www.whitehouse.gov/), this has over 50 million backlinks according to Majestic SEO. Something which a standard blog would never achieve.

Also, if you all of a sudden got 100 links from .edu and .gov domains, would this look natural? No – something which will probably result in a warning or penalty from Google.

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