Link Building 101: Why .edu and .gov Links Are Overrated – SEO Hong Kong


Link Building 101: Why .edu and .gov Links Are Overrated

One of my link building campaign clients asked if the next update would include links from .edu sites. I said OK, I will try. I am not sure if I could get one but I certainly wouldn’t try to get one for the sake of it.

It’s been a common understanding that links from educational institution websites and government websites generally possess greater credibility that .com sites because unlike dotcoms, not everyone can get a .gov and .edu. Such exclusivity of use has often been correlated with such urban myth that .edu and .gov sites are likely to boost rankings and will therefore be more sought after than dime a dozen .com sites.

However, let’s realize that the same way as .com sites, .edu sites can also become profitable avenues to those who aim for.. uhm, profits. I can pay a webmaster who manages my old University to get a link to this client. Or even ask a friend’s brother who maintains a personal page hosted by another university. Or post several links masquerading as inquiries in an online school forum. That’s if I believe links from .edu sites are all the same: they all have great value.

I am not degrading the value of a .edu website’s link credibility. If a university publishes a very credible research paper, and a page of my client’s site happens to be linked there because it is an equally credible source, then that’s where I should be proud of getting a link from a .edu site.

If we are looking for links from .edu or .gov sites then they should be based on merits and authoritative content on our pages, and not just because of the TLD (top level domain).

Photo credit: tengtan


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  • phaithful on Apr 28, 2009 Reply

    I think .edu and .gov links need to be explained to non-SEOs a bit more clearly. I agree that .edu and .gov TLDs carry no intrinsic value themselves, and I think it's become more of a myth because of the way it's been explained.

    The benefits of .edu and .gov links is more of a "rule of thumb" than an actual fact. Generally, .edu and .gov domains have very low penetration of commercial content and the content usually has a very high chance of editorial review due to the nature of the organization providing the content and the expectations of the public consumer.

    I think the same rule of thumb could be translated to non-US markets as well, but instead of .edu or .gov links, it could easily be .gob if you're in Bolivia, Guatemala, or Nicaragua … or similarly .parliament or .ekloges if you're in Cyprus.

    It really just comes down to getting high quality links, and looking at the overall link structure of the targeted page as opposed to the TLD. But in general, government or academically run TLDs tend to receive good in bound links, and typically link to credible sources.

  • proson on Apr 28, 2009 Reply

    I do think they are myths Elmer, why you want to get a link from .edu or .gov if an organization does not target groups in the US at all?

    Why then Google will consider links from such sites are better than sites that don't have those "credibility incoming links".

    I really think that they are B.S.

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