Not all backlinks are created equal.
Google and other search engines place higher value in backlinks coming from websites that are considered experts, or those that have topical authority, or those that command a lot of trust from the users.
Websites of recognized and respected educational institutions have all three qualities. Hence, backlinks from .edu websites can potentially add incredible value to any backlink profile.
While it is not compulsory for all great backlink profiles to have links from .edu websites, having these links certainly offers a great SEO advantage.
This is because just like it isn’t easy to get a backlink from a .edu website, it is very difficult to get a .edu domain.
Why Are .edu Backlinks So Valuable?
Edu domains aren’t just different, they are dramatically more difficult to acquire. For starters, registering a .edu domain name does not guarantee ownership of that domain. It only allows you to the organization to use that domain name for a certain period of time.
Next, an organization must comply with a number of stringent pre-requisites to qualify for a .edu domain. These pre-requisites ensure that only educational institutions can acquire .edu backlinks.
Knowing that it is not difficult to imagine how small the number of .edu domains is, in comparison to .com domains.
With that said, scarcity is not the only reason behind the high SEO value associated with .edu backlinks.
The other reason is the kind of content being published on .edu websites. For instance, most respected university websites regularly publish original research papers. That’s an authentic source of information. Moreover, since it is published by an educational institution, the findings of such a research paper hold a lot of credibility.
As a result, many websites link to research papers published on college and university websites.
That’s just one example. Educational institutions also publish news, information about educational findings and achievements, sports-related achievements, and event news and coverage.
All of these are examples of original, valuable, and high-quality content and since this content is being published by an educational institution, it enjoys a lot of authority.
As a result, educational websites also enjoy a lot of authority, especially in the eyes of the Google search algorithm.
So, to summarise, .edu backlinks are valuable because of:
- – The value contained within the content produced by .edu websites
- – The credibility they enjoy as educational institutions
This also means that .edu websites have to consistently work hard to preserve their credibility. For SEOs and website owners looking to add some .edu backlinks to their backlink profiles, it means that getting a .edu backlink is not an easy undertaking.
In fact, it is almost impossible to land a .edu backlink with link schemes like blog commenting.
It is also important to remember that since .edu backlinks carry so much importance, they are also more carefully analyzed and tracked by Google’s algorithms. This means, if you do manage to get a backlink from a .edu website and it is over-optimized with say, an exact-match anchor text, it may fall victim to a Penguin penalty.
Now we know why .edu backlinks are so valuable and are also aware of the fact that earning .edu backlinks is not easy.
However, it isn’t impossible either.
Getting a .edu backlink is actually usually a byproduct of a business’ involvement with the university. In other words, if you approach a .edu website with the sole objective of acquiring a backlink, there’s a high chance of failure.
If, however, you approach the whole thing with the objective of building a mutually beneficial relationship with the educational institution or with the objective of simply adding value, the backlinks should come in naturally.
Here are a few ideas that may help you secure a backlink from a respectable educational institution:
Tap Into Your Reputation As An Alumni
Most educational institutions have a page or section of their website dedicated to their alumni. It’s a good marketing tool. Showing off what ex-students have been able to achieve after receiving education from a university or school is good business for that university or school.
For you, it’s a great link building opportunity. In fact, it might just be the easiest way to secure a .edu backlink.
All you need to do is write back to your college or school telling them about your achievement(s), while subtly mentioning how the education you received from them was a contributor to your success (only if it’s true).
Examples of achievements that may interest your college or school may include a prestigious award, or an interesting case study of your business, or an interesting/disruptive project you are working on or have recently completed. If you have received a prestigious award, or have appeared at a recognized event, those also qualify as achievements that your college or school may be interested to hear about.
At the end of your email, let them know that you would be incredibly honored and happy if the news is shared on the university’s social media channels and website.
Unfortunately, this tactic will not work for most fresh graduates and individuals that are just getting started in their careers. Even in the case of seasoned professionals, the university or school may not consider their achievements valuable enough to be mentioned on their websites.
If that happens to you, just remember that achievements and the value associated with them are subjective. Just because the university isn’t ready to write about your achievements on their website doesn’t make them less valuable.
It simply means you will have to find other ways to secure a .edu backlink.
Thankfully, we have a whole list of those ahead of us.
Get Featured On The Resource Page
Getting featured on the resource page of any kind of website is a popular link-building strategy. It works well for .edu websites as well.
However, the first and most important prerequisite is to have high quality, valuable content on your website, something that is truly worth linking to.
Here’s an example of a link that FundersClub secured:
First, let’s get some perspective by learning about the business. FundersClub is a website that allows individuals to invest in early-stage Silicon Valley startups.
FundersClub was able to secure a link from the website of Fox School of Business of Temple University. The link in question appears on the “Entrepreneurship Institute Resources” page.
As the name suggests, the page contains resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. It also contains a lot of outgoing links.
The link to FundersClub appears near the top of the resource page, right next to revered books like “The Startup Owner’s Manual”. The page the link is pointing to is titled, “A Guide To Co-Founder Fit”.
It’s a hyper-specific topic and the article covers the topic in apt detail. Despite that, it is about a topic that every startup cofounder must think about. It is also easy to read and incredibly relevant to the subject matter of the resource page.
This means, securing a resource page link is all about producing the right content. To produce the right content, you must first find resource pages that are relevant to your business. Just like the startup founders’ resource page was extremely relevant to FundersClub business model.
So how can you find resource pages that may be relevant to your business?
Go to Google and conduct an advanced search. Here’s an example:
Site:.edu niche keyword inurl:resource
For our website, this search may look like this:
Site:edu Digital Marketing inurl:resource
The resulting SERPs will contain a list of .edu website resource pages that are likely to contain content relevant to your desired niche.
You can surf through the pages on which you think you can land a link, learn what kind of content they like linking to, create similar and relevant content, and reach out to them informing them about the content.
Once again, it isn’t a good idea to blatantly ask for a backlink. Instead, just inform them about your awesome piece of content and how and where it can add value to their website.
Conduct Faculty Interviews
As you may already know, most reputed educational institutions employ at least a handful of revered professors that are considered experts in their respective fields. In many cases, these professors and faculty members also enjoy a lot of popularity among their peers and others that are interested in their work. Many of these faculty members also maintain their own blogs on the websites of the educational institutions employing them.
Anyone who maintains a blog and gets interviewed by the owner of another website would love to show off the interview to their own audience. The professors and faculty members that maintain blogs on .edu websites are no different. If you manage to get their views on a relevant topic and publish those views on your website, there is a good chance that they will be motivated to link to the interview.
The great thing about this tactic is that you can potentially get multiple .edu backlinks from multiple professors and different universities by writing just one piece of content.
To execute this tactic, the first step is to find the right faculty members that you can interview. Ideally, you are looking for professors and faculty members that work in areas of specialization that are relevant to your business.
For instance, if you are a business consultant, you should be looking for professors that are interested in and talk about subjects surrounding management, management consulting, and business behavior.
To find the blog pages of such professors, you can use Google’s advanced search features. Just go to Google search and look up:
Site:.edu management consulting inurl:blog
The top results may not be what you are looking for. However, when you dive deeper into the search results, you should come across some blog pages that are authored by university professors.
To find more and more potential backlinking opportunities, you can try different keywords and even look into the news and research sections of .edu websites. To do this, simply replace “blog” with “news” or “research” in your advanced search query.
Once you have a list of potential backlink prospects, it is time to come up with an article topic (for your website) that all or most of them will find relevant and interesting.
With that, start reaching out to the professors asking for their opinion about the topic.
For instance, for our management consulting niche example, a great topic may be the trending great resignation. For that topic, you can not only reach out to professors that teach management courses and subjects, but also psychology professors that can give an insight into the mental states that prompt employees to resign from their secure jobs.
You need not limit yourself by just telling them about the topic of your article and asking for their views. Instead, preparing a list of questions and giving them an option to answer those questions or simply share their views in a single message is a better idea.
If any professor invests their time in answering multiple questions, there is a greater chance that they will link to your published work.
Once you have received a few replies from professors and faculty members, it is time to compile their thoughts into an article and publish it. Once the article is published, send every professor that contributed to the article an email.
Use this email to:
- – Thank them for their contribution
- – Let them know that their thoughts have been published on your website
- – To let them know you would be happy if they shared the article with their peers in any way they see fit
By doing this, you will be taking a step towards establishing a relationship with these professors and subtly asking for a backlink without seeming too pushy.
Get Links From .edu Website Bloggers
To stay relevant, college and school websites must consistently publish new content. However, most colleges, universities, and schools don’t have separate budgets marked out for this content. As a result, in most cases, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of students.
Since the content that these students write makes for great additions to their CV, most students and individuals responsible for publishing content on the blogs of educational institutions go through great pain and publish some truly fantastic content.
However, a large percentage of this content goes unnoticed. In many cases, even the faculty members of these organizations never even take a peek at the content published on the blog, let alone appreciate it.
In other words, bloggers that are responsible for maintaining the blogs of .edu websites rarely get the attention and recognition they deserve. Meaning, if you show them the appreciation they are lacking, you may end up with a high-quality backlink!
To execute this tactic, begin by identifying the educational institutions you want to target. Next, go through the blog and resources pages of their websites and look for names that appear frequently. Be sure to do some additional research to ensure that you are indeed reaching out to bloggers and not faculty members.
Once you have identified an author or blogger, go through their published work and find something that is relevant to some content that is either already published on your website or will be published there in the near future.
Next, add the link to the .edu blogger’s article to your work and send them an appreciative email informing them about this inclusion. Getting this step right is critical to ensuring success.
First, make sure you are saying good things about their work in your article. Something on the lines of “author (name of the person) has made some really strong points about this in their article about ”.
Next, in the email you send to them, make sure you write words of appreciation about their work. In fact, if you have done your research thoroughly, you should be able to write positive things about their other published work that hasn’t been mentioned on your website.
Finally, conclude your email by telling them that you would be happy to have your work shared with their readers on their website or social media handles.
Give Exclusive Discounts
Many businesses give exclusive discounts to students as a way to boost their sales. For most, it is a strategy that actually works and brings in more and more business.
However, giving exclusive discounts these days also has an SEO benefit associated with it. See, most universities whose students get discounts from businesses have a page on their website dedicated to informing their students about the places they can get discounts.
The only real pre-requisite for securing these links on .edu websites is to have a product or service that students will find useful and will be motivated to purchase and use. If you have such a product, all you need to do is introduce an exclusive discount for students in universities that are present in your areas of service and inform the university about these discounts.
To do this, you must first identify universities in your area that actually have pages listing businesses that offer discounts to their students.
To find these pages, you can use Google’s advanced search. Just go to the Google search bar and enter the following:
You can also experiment with the terms “student discounts” or “staff discounts” or any other similar terms.
Once you find enough relevant pages, all that is left is to come up with an offer relevant to the students and staff of these universities and inform the universities about the offer.
List Your Business As A Local Resource
Even if you cannot offer discounts, you can still get listed on the websites of your local universities. Many university websites have helpful information on their websites, targeted at students coming in from other cities. This is usually information about local businesses such as restaurants, departmental stores, and accommodation options.
If your business offers services that may be relevant to students or their family members coming from out of town, or relevant to local university students in general, it is a great idea to get your business listed on one such list.
To find local universities that have such pages live on their websites, you can use the following search command in Google:
Site:.edu “local businesses”
List Yourself As An Employment Provider
Students don’t join educational institutions to get access to exclusive discounts. They’re just an added perk. The end goal of almost every student is to acquire employment after their education is complete.
The employment factor is just as important for universities as it is for their students. Colleges and universities must ensure a high number of students are placed in jobs after graduation. This is because prospective students look at this information to compare various institutions.
So, if you tell a university that you want to offer employment to their students, they would be more than happy to list your business on their website. Many universities have a dedicated page to let students know about the employment opportunities they come across.
Of course, to be able to get links with this tactic, you must have open job positions that are relevant to the students of a particular university. If you cannot offer full-time employment, even part-time opportunities that help students make some extra money while studying also find a place on .edu websites. Besides full-time and part-time employment opportunities, you can also offer internships to university students. All you need is a careers page on your website that lists genuine employment opportunities with your business.
Make sure you list all the open positions you have, along with the qualities you are looking for in an ideal candidate. Creating a careers page that lists just one opportunity will not help you acquire a link. To achieve success with this tactic, it is important for you to be able to list multiple open positions and internship opportunities for students.
Once your careers page is ready, reach out to the relevant institutions informing them about the opportunities you currently have for their students. Don’t forget to tell them that you regularly have open positions that can be filled by university students and fresh graduates. Conclude by inviting them to share your careers page on their website for easy access to information for the students.
The best thing about this tactic is that most of your open employment opportunities will be relevant to the students of multiple universities. Meaning, you can reach out to and potentially build links from multiple .edu websites with just one careers page.
Employ Broken Link Building
Despite being widely known, broken link building is an underrated link building tactic. The truth is, this tactic works well by design. This is because with broken link building, unlike most other link building tactics, you are not asking for a favor from a website owner. In fact, you’re doing the exact opposite, you are helping them improve their website’s SEO.
For those of you who don’t know what broken link building is, here’s a quick explanation:
Broken link building is a tactic that allows you to build links by identifying and replacing 404 links (or broken links) on target websites.
To execute this tactic effectively and at scale, the use of an SEO tool, like Ahrefs, is strongly recommended. Using the backlink analysis feature of such tools, you can find 404 links on desired websites at scale, with ease.
Virtually every 404 link you find on a .edu website is a backlink creation opportunity. However, many may not be relevant to your business. At the same time, since universities and educational institutions publish content about a large variety of topics, there is a good chance that you will find a relevant opportunity on most of the websites you look up.
Once you have identified the 404 links on your target websites, use The Wayback Machine to get a peek at the content that these links were pointing to. With that knowledge, you can start creating content that can be used as a replacement for the broken outgoing links.
The final step is to reach out to the administrators of your target websites and inform them of the broken links that you have found on their website. As a swift solution to the problem, present your content as a replacement for the broken links.
Get Featured As A Guest Lecturer
Universities routinely invite industry experts to deliver guest lectures and provide real-world insights to their students. If you have subject-matter expertise and can speak to a crowd with clarity, this might turn out to be a great opportunity to secure a .edu backlink.
For instance, if you have a web development business, you can find programming courses in universities that are looking for guest lecturers.
With that said, this isn’t a tactic that can be utilized at scale. For this to work, you must target specific universities and colleges where you have a genuine chance of qualifying as a guest lecturer. After all, not every one of us can appear as a guest lecturer at an ivy league university.
Once you have identified the organizations that are relevant to you as a guest lecturer, you can find out about open positions through their websites. There may be some waiting involved so be prepared to continually track open guest lecturer positions at your preferred colleges and universities.
Obtaining a position as a guest lecturer will not be easy by any measure. That’s why, if your only objective is to obtain a backlink, this tactic may not be right for you. If, on the other hand, you care about the other benefits associated with the undertaking, becoming a guest lecturer at a university is great. It not only lets you help students with your knowledge but also allows you to position yourself as a figure of authority in your field.
Appear At A Seminar
Another thing that educational institutions use to give their students exposure to the real world is host seminars. In these seminars, students get to listen to insights from and interact with industry experts.
If you think you have the kind of expertise required to appear as a speaker at a seminar at your local university, it is a good idea to reach out to them and enquire about the same.
Once again, you will be helping students, establishing yourself as a recognized expert in your field, and of course, will be securing a backlink from the .edu webpage that mentions all the guests featured in a particular seminar.
Help Out Student Communities Or Clubs
Most schools have several student communities and clubs but not enough funds to meet all their needs. As a result, most of these communities are forced to build their online presence on a microsite of the university.
Because of the same reason, these communities also lack the resources to build an attractive website. This is where an opportunity to build some backlinks lies.
All you have to do is find neglected websites of relevant student communities and clubs and offer to provide them with a “free” revamp. Even if you don’t have the necessary web design skills to make it happen, you can enlist the help of affordable freelancers.
In exchange, most communities would be happy to link to your website as a token of appreciation for your help.
Post On University Forums
This is one of the easier ways of acquiring a .edu backlink. However, it may not work for everyone. The execution of this strategy is simple, all you need to do is post insightful content on university forums and subtly add a link to your website within your content.
Now, the first challenge is to actually find university websites that have forums. Once you do, the next challenge you need to overcome is to find forum topics that relate to your business or area of expertise. Then, you must come up with truly insightful content that will add value to the content already present in the thread and will allow you to naturally place a link to your website.
With that said, there is another challenge that you may face- the inability to post links in a forum. Many university forums have outright banned users from adding any kind of links in the forum to prevent spam. If you have come across such a forum, it is best to move on and find others.
Other university forums may also not allow you to add links right off the bat. Many university forums prevent users from adding any links to their content before they have spent a certain amount of time on the forum and/or have posted a certain number of posts on the forum.
A Word About Scholarship Link Building
Many online guides to building .edu backlinks also talk about how businesses can offer scholarships and build some amazing .edu backlinks. While doing this is absolutely possible, it may not have the desired results.
While it is a huge expense, scholarship link building is a widely used tactic by many businesses. Most universities have a dedicated page for scholarships or financial aid for students. Even from a business perspective, scholarship link building seems ethical since the business is actually giving back to the community in the form of a student scholarship.
However, Google’s views on the subject are different. According to Google, scholarship link building is considered a manipulative way of acquiring links.
So, if you offer a scholarship to students in exchange for a .edu backlink, you can expect the Google algorithm to ignore them. In some rare and extreme cases, building such links may even attract a manual penalty. However, that usually only happens to websites that have other types of paid backlinks in their profile.
This also doesn’t mean that businesses should refrain from giving out scholarships. It simply means that acquiring a backlink should not be the sole objective of offering a scholarship.
By now, it must be clear that getting .edu backlinks is not an easy undertaking. In fact, the effort, in many cases, outweighs the benefit of securing these links. However, at the same time, it is also true that almost any backlink profile can get a serious boost with the addition of only a handful of backlinks coming from .edu domains.
The task of acquiring .edu backlinks instantly becomes much easier when you realize that not only ivy league schools have .edu domain names.
Regardless of whether or not it is easy to acquire .edu backlinks for you, these should never be the only backlinks you chase. These should always make up a fraction of the total links you have in your backlink profile. Remember, getting a few .edu backlinks does not guarantee that your website will rank on the first page of the SERPs for your desired keywords.
If you find all these tactics of acquiring .edu backlinks a little too overwhelming, that’s perfectly fine. You can always enlist the help of experts, like the ones we have as a part of our team at Digital Web Solutions. If that’s something that piques your interest, feel free to get in touch with us and find out how we can help you land high quality backlinks for your business websites.