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EDU Backlinks – What They Are, Why They Matter & How To Get Them

When it comes to link building, it’s a good idea for your backlink profile to be as varied as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that you should aim at getting backlinks from any website, regardless of its metrics or the niche it’s in as relevance and metrics can definitely make all the difference. 

In today’s post, we’re looking at what edu backlinks are, explaining some of the basics, whether they can help your rankings or not, and several methods that you can use to acquire links from .edu domains. 

What are EDU backlinks?

EDU domains are sponsored top level domains that are a bit more specific than the rest. They’re somewhat similar to GOV backlinks in the sense that they usually belong to official organizations or institutions.

For this reason, acquiring such backlinks is very hard, if not impossible, depending on the niche you are in. 

You might have heard that some affiliate marketers used to rely on offering scholarships to get a link from a website with .edu. 

edu backlinks

This used to work in the past and quite well, but it became a method that more and more marketers used, so university sites were effectively spammed to death with emails asking them to showcase people’s scholarships. 

What’s worse, some of the scholarships weren’t even real, so they didn’t offer any money at the end or any kind of reward. 

Examples of .edu websites you might want to get links from

Pretty much all universities have good-standing websites, although there are some differences between them in terms of metrics, too. 

Newer and private universities, no matter where they might be located, have lower ranked websites compared to UNIs such as Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, for example.

Read more: What is anchor text?

Websites that end in gov or edu are considered to be high-quality backlinks by Google, especially if they’ve existed for decades. Most of these domains are old and quite well-established, which is why a backlink from them can make a difference in terms of rankings. 

Here are some examples of good edu domains you might be able to get links from (or not):

  • Harvard.edu
  • Ualr.edu
  • Umich.edu 
  • Bu.edu 
  • Udel.edu
  • Ufl.edu 
  • Rosemont.edu
  • Ucdenver.edu
  • Sterling.edu
  • Lifewest.edu
  • Open.edu
  • Uky.edu 
  • Openuniversity.edu & more
  • But edu backlinks don’t just come from universities and colleges. There are lots of public libraries, continuing education programs, and even vocational or art schools that have .edu domains. 

Even The United States Sports Academy has an .edu website, so it’s up to you to look for the right one. By the way, some Christian seminaries also have .edu websites. 

What to consider before getting a link from an .edu or .gov website

A very important note that we have to make with regard to whether these links might be able to improve your rankings is that it also depends on their specifics. 

What we mean by this is that, if for example, you get a link from Brown and there’s a completely different section of the site where contributors can post articles for free, that part of the site might not be crawled properly by Google, so it might not pass on enough link juice to your website. 

Read more: Keyword cannibalization

If you want to purchase an .edu or .gov link, our advice to you is to ask the link vendor to give you an example of what the URL might look like. It’s then up to you to tell what the path from the homepage to that section of the site might be. 

If you’ve ever used Sitebulb before, you probably know what we’re trying to describe, but if you haven’t, here’s a short breakdown.

edu backlinks

Image via oncrawl.com

A site’s homepage is considered to be depth 0 because that’s the first place where Google’s crawlers end up when they get to your site. The best ‘places’ on a site to get links from would be depth 1, 2, or 3, but not anything beyond that. 

For example, if the university has a link to its blog right on the homepage, whether at the top or the bottom, the blog will be depth 1, and any of the articles will probably be either depth 2 or 3, depending on the organization of the blog. 

If a link vendor gives you an example of a link they’ve acquired in the past and you can’t seem to find it using the navigation of the site or any of the categories (if the category or section isn’t even listed in the URL), it doesn’t make any sense to buy it at all. 

The other factor that you have to take into account is whether it’s a good idea to spend your money on an .edu or .gov link at all. 

If you get a link from a college or university that isn’t even in the same niche as you, that would be somewhat pointless. In terms of metrics, they might provide you with some link juice, but it’s still going to be a little weird. 

Read more: Duplicate Content SEO

For example, if you have a website about generators or anything technical, it would make more sense to get a link from a site like MIT rather than one from a website belonging to a chiropractors’ association or college, right? 

Try to keep relevance in mind when trying to find the right .edu and .gov backlinks. 

The cost is another detail to mull over. Sometimes, edu backlinks can be extremely expensive, as not everyone has access to their platform, whether the blogging/collaborator parts or not. 

If people actually work for the university, they’re basically putting their career at risk by selling you a link, so you can expect to pay thousands of dollars for such a backlink. If it’s not that relevant to you, perhaps getting 2-3 backlinks from good websites that are in your niche might make more sense, instead. 

edu backlinks

Can getting links from .edu websites help?

In most cases, yes. If they’re relevant and they’re real high-authority websites, and you happen to use the right anchor text or URL, they can help a lot. 

In fact, because they’re so well-seen by Google, it would make more sense to use your site name as the anchor text and point the link to your homepage (especially since your homepage is where the crawlers end up first anyway). 

Then you can simply make sure that everything is on par on-page SEO wise and you’re good to go. 

On top of everything, most .edu backlinks already check all the right boxes that Google’s looking at, such as the right domain authority, relevance, low or no spam score, high trust flow, high citation flow, and everything else. 

Read more: Signal Boy Review

So you can at least rest assured that getting an .edu backlink is definitely not going to hurt your rankings.

To keep your backlink profile as diversified as possible, you should aim at acquiring several different kinds of links, such as .edu, .com, .gov, and even .org. Even generic ones work, and if you are obviously in a different country, a region-specific domain would work, too. 

edu backlinks

Finding the right website with .edu to get a link from

We aren’t going to repeat what we’ve already emphasized, meaning that you have to find an .edu domain that hopefully is in the same field as you are to get the best value of the link juice.

Now we’re going to delve into how you can actually find .edu sites to pitch to. 

The easiest way of going about things is to use ‘site:.edu’ or ‘site:.gov’ in Google Search. Then you get a list of all of the domains in this category. 

Location 

If you need something in a specific region, you can simply search for ‘site:.edu’ and your desired location, so then add your state, like Texas, or Pennsylvania. 

Niche 

You can also use the same type of search for your niche. If you’re in the pet niche, try typing ‘site:.edu animal’ in the search bar and see what results you get — you’re not going to be disappointed — universities, libraries, zoos, animal welfare institutes, and even cause websites such as those that militate against animal testing will show up. 

Then you have to do your best at using outreach to your advantage or hire a very seasoned VA that can do all the work for you, including coming up with ideas on how to get in touch with students, staff, or professors to manage and get you a link from those websites. 

Do consider that the success rate of outreach when it comes to pitching to .edu or .gov websites is extremely low — perhaps only broken link building or paying big bucks for a backlink might work to your advantage. 

edu backlinks

Ways of acquiring backlinks from .edu domains

Resource pages

You can rely on this technique if you’ve created an extensive article on a specific topic on your blog or website, and you know for sure that it would make a great resource for everyone in your niche. 

For this method, you can simply search for ‘site:.edu <<topic>> + inurl:resources’. 

If you’ve created an article about the best natural sources of magnesium (probably not the best example), you can just type in ‘site:.edu magnesium + inurl:resources’ in the search bar and you’ll get all of the .edu domains that have magnesium-related resource pages. 

And then it’s your responsibility to do your best at pitching to each and every single one of these websites. 

edu and gov backlinks

Scholarships

This used to be a very effective method in the past, but it was widely used by many affiliate marketers, and even nowadays, universities and colleges get hundreds of such emails every week — so they might have had enough of it. 

However, scholarship link building is still a pretty good way of acquiring high-quality links. They do take a bit of work to implement and even if you do get your link placed on an .edu website, you have to do it right. 

That means that you have to update your page every year and offer that $1,000 prize – and also clearly specify to which candidate you have offered it, too. If the candidate is willing to create a testimonial for you (with a profile picture and everything), that would be even better. 

For this method, you can merely use ‘site:.edu scholarships’ and then add your niche keyword and your location, if you have to. 

Try to get in touch with alumni or professors

The reason you should try to feed the ego of professors, especially up-and-coming ones that have just joined the university’s staff, is that they’re likely to want to display the work they’ve done on their personal pages on the site. 

Almost every professor that teaches at a university has a separate page where some of their best achievements are listed. If they’re just starting out, they might want to write and publish articles not just in research papers but also on various websites. 

That’s where you come in, send them an email asking them to contribute to your website (for a fee, of course), and once everything is done and the article is published, you can subtly ask them whether they wouldn’t want to add that article to their portfolio/personal pages. 

Offer discounts or pay students and staff

There are many universities or colleges that have separate pages showcasing what students or staff might gain if they join their teams.

The downside to using this method is that you actually have to have a physical product or a real service that you can provide. 

But if you create software for a living, that would be perfect, especially if it’s in niches like productivity and organization, which would work best for college students and their staff. 

For this method, you can use the search ‘site:.edu student/staff discounts’.

Use broken link building and find the site’s admin

No one wants broken links on their site, and that includes universities, associations, organizations, or even seminaries and conservatories. It doesn’t take too much effort to find broken links on a specific site if you use SEMRush or Ahrefs, for example.

404 error

This link building technique might not be as successful as downright paying professors or students or giving them discounts or stuff for free. Nevertheless, it’s still worth the try. 

Create a better page than the broken link you’ve discovered (you can use Wayback Machine to see exactly what it was about) and then notify the admin of the broken link (1) and pitch your own article (2). 

At least the part about finding the broken links of any website really isn’t difficult, especially since the interface of various tools, such as that of Ahrefs, in particular, are very easy to work with for such a task. 

Conclusion

EDU backlinks are definitely valuable, and while not all are relevant, it’s a good idea to try and get at least several of them. Most .edu and .gov websites are very well-seen by the search engines, so you don’t have to worry about such links affecting your rankings in a negative manner. 

If you do decide to use the scholarship method that we have mentioned, make sure to keep your page as regularly updated as possible – otherwise, you’re going to lose the link after some time. 

Need help with your SEO or digital marketing efforts? We have lots of plans and courses available. Get in touch to find out how we can be of assistance!

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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