Are edu backlinks really worth all that effort and should you focus your energy and time on getting them? This particular debate started years ago, with SEO experts rallying on both sides of the issue with equal fervor.
Those who are pro edu backlinks –meaning they believe that they are definitely worth the effort – claim that edu link building is a worthwhile activity and note that these backlinks are the cream of the crop for SEO professionals. In a nutshell, a few quality edu backlinks can significantly boost your ranking and help you get on top of the SERPs faster.
On the other hand, there is an equal number of SEO experts who point out that most edu and gov backlinks are actually worthless. Their reasoning is not flawed as such – they claim that Google cares about good content and gives little to no extra authority to edu sites.
But, despite the fact that we will all agree that quality content is your best way of building credibility and being rewarded by Google with a climb in the SERPs, edu backlinks should not be so easily dismissed. Sure, there are duds there that you’ll probably want to avoid but generally edu sites have a couple of things going for them:
– Edu domain is not easily obtainable – you have to be a certified educational establishment to be granted an edu domain
– Most edu domains have been around for quite some time
– There is a ton of links pointing to best edu domains
These reasons alone mean that most edu domains have higher than usual authority with Google and users. Personally, I think that Google does favor these domains slightly – not excessively, though, content is still king – and I believe that focusing on obtaining some quality edu backlinks for SEO purposes can help you rank better. Not much but every little bit helps, right?
(Almost) Free Edu Backlinks and How to Get Them
A lot of people think that landing a backlink from an edu site is a lot of work – it’s difficult to come up with content, it’s a pain to get past the gatekeepers, and a bunch of other ridiculous little reasons. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, if you know what you’re doing getting edu links will be a piece of cake. However, you have to set out to do just that. Any old piece of content just won’t do so you will have to come up with a good tactic and go after them.
Here are a couple of tips on how to get backlinks from edu sites that will yield great results.
Set Up a Scholarship
The best way to get a backlink from anyone, including edu sites, is to offer them something they’d be foolish to refuse.
In this case, we’re talking about scholarships. Think about your niche and the colleges you want to target and do some research to find which edu sites link to external scholarships. You can do this quickly by using the following search strings:
site:.edu “scholarships links”
site:.edu “college scholarships”
site:.edu “list of scholarships”
site:.edu “scholarship list”
Once you have a list prepared, check out the sites and see how you can tailor your scholarship information to fit the bill for most of them. Also, you want to make sure that their PR is up to snuff and that they link to commercial sites with do follow links –if they don’t, skip them.
Then simply throw together a quick text detailing the specifics of your scholarship. Include the amount awarded, number of winners, requirements, and an online application.
Email that info to every single college on your list and boom! – watch those links pour in. This is a great way of spending a $ 1,000 and securing at least a dozen of edu links. Rarely will a college pass up an opportunity to link to this because it’s both in their own interests and in the interest of their students.
Edu sites are big on resource pages, which is great for SEO experts who know what they are doing. Not everyone will be able to pull this one off as you need to be in specific niches for it to work but if you’re lucky to be in fitness or weight loss business you can definitely take advantage of.
Let’s assume that you have a workout/fitness website. Do a broad search with related terms using the following search strings:
site:.edu fitness+ inurl:resources
site:.edu workout + inurl:links
After you’ve selected edu sites you’d like to get links from simply email them to tell them about your awesome website that has a ton of information on the subject. Of course, make sure that your content is actually great and unique. In this specific case you will want to build content that revolves around workout routines, tutorial videos, diet, and such.
This approach is all about the numbers. Not everyone will link to your page. Heck, most people will simply skip your email altogether. That’s ok – this method is relatively simple and it’s not time-consuming so every link you manage to nab this way is win for you.
Get Yourself on a Local Resource Page
A lot of colleges go out of their way to make sure that their students and visitors get the best possible deals. For this reason, they will usually have a local resources page that lists local businesses that are either too convenient to pass up or offer special discounts to students and visitors.
This bit will work great if you are in the hotel or restaurant business but that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged if you’re not. If you have a mortar and brick store in the vicinity of a college you should still check out their website to see if they have other categories. The following search strings should be helpful:
site:school.edu “local resources”
site:school.edu “your city + resources”
site:.school.edu “local restaurants”
If you can find this type of stuff and they post live followed links too, this just might be your golden ticket to higher rankings. Draft a nice little email selling yourself and your business and reach out for links.
Give a Shout Out to Edu Site Bloggers
More and more colleges have live, well-tended blogs that cater to their audience. I’m glad to see this catching on here because edu sites aren’t the quickest to follow trends. But it’s a necessity on an increasingly quality content-oriented web.
This gives you the opportunity to do three things. First, you can invite those bloggers to guest blog on your site – if you have a niche that is related to their blog and you get a fair bit of exposure yourself they will likely jump at the invitation.
Secondly, you can contact them and see if they are fishing for guest posts to publish themselves. You can take two routes here – you can either do the post yourself or pay for a post written by an established academic from that particular field that you can then you can then pimp out to various bloggers.
Both of these methods are legitimate and worthwhile but take time and luck.
The third method is my favorite. Find a bunch of edu bloggers that talk about a particular subject that you’re interested in and that is related to your field. You can do this by using the following search strings:
site:.edu “keyword” “blog posts”
site:.edu “keyword” “student blogs”
site:.edu “keyword” “post comment”
site:.edu “keyword” “student blogs”
Make sure that the blogs are really related to your field and active. Their last post shouldn’t be more than a month old. Clump the blogs you like in categories according to what they write about.
After that, take some time to read the blogs and write up a list post. Something in the lines of ‘Best App Developer Blogs 2016’ or ‘Best Workout Tips Blogs 2016’ will do just fine.
Pull up photos of the bloggers, write up a short bio, and link to their best post. And you’re done! Simply email everyone on your list telling them that you’ve featured them in your latest post and you will plenty of links.
Why? Because everyone likes to get their ego stroked from time to time and bloggers are no different.
This approach will work for everyone, regardless of whether they run a brick and mortar shop close by or they are selling their stuff online. Most colleges have a page where they run discounted offers for their employees or students. Here’s a simple trick that will help you find them:
site:.edu “employee discount program”
site:.edu “staff discounts”
site:.edu “student discounts”
Of course, verify that the links are live and followed so you don’t end up wasting your time. Then sit down and put together an offer. Most sites won’t make you work too hard for this and will offer up a simple contact form to get in touch with them.
However, keep in mind that not all offers will go through with every site. Some of them are rather stringent about what they will and will not link to. Don’t get discouraged. As I’ve mentioned, you’re not location-bound with this one and you can reach out to virtually every college in the world like this. Granted, this might take some time but hey, hundreds of edu links will do wonders for your rankings!
Pay Students to Do Your Work for You
Most colleges offer their students a possibility to start a blog on their edu domain and you can take advantage of this. This tactic is a bit shoddier than I’d like so I can’t really recommend using it but some of you are more courageous than I am and this will work so I decided against leaving it out.
As I said, a lot of students can start a blog on their college’s domain and you can find those students through sites like UpWork, Fiverr, Reddit, or somewhere else. Offer to pay them between $ 60 and $ 80 per post to start a blog and feature your link in it from time to time.
Getting edu backlinks is not all that difficult if you know what you’re doing. Despite the ongoing debate on whether or not it’s worth it, I believe that you aren’t losing all that much by dabbling in it. It doesn’t really differ from building links on other sites other than the fact that you have access to a whole bunch of high-authority, established pages. It has to count for something so I highly recommend trying it out to see if you can get a boost in your ranking from it.