GOV & EDU Links Are Dead! Long Live GOV & EDU Links!
For a long time, many search engine optimizers (SEOs) believed that links from government and education websites would help commercial sites perform better in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, that started to become a myth as many SEOs began to debunk it on their blogs and popular forums like WebmasterWorld.com and Search Engine Watch. To put the nail in the coffin, Matt Cutts even went on record to say that links from .GOV and .EDU sites do not help SERPs.
I’ve always believed that .GOV and .EDU sites do help SERPs, and even when most SEOs thought it was a myth, I purposefully left checks for government and education backlinks in our SEO Tools, because I’m convinced that they do matter. How do I know this? Because most of my websites that perform the best in SERPs don’t necessarily have the highest PageRank, but they do have a sizable amount of .GOV and .EDU links.
My lonely belief in the validity of these links became less lonely after I read a recent blog entry by Aaron Wall entitled, “Proof Google Loves EDU & GOV Sites.” He wrote about similar experiences, where he too had sites that had a lower PageRank, but performed well in the SERPs.
“I have a PageRank 7 site that doesn’t rank anywhere near as well as you would expect given its PageRank. I also have a couple PageRank 5 sites that rank for a ton of searches and are getting thousands of visits a day. One of them has less than 30 pages too. What do the PageRank 5 sites have that the PageRank 7 site lacks? Tons of .edu and librarian type links.”
Aaron took it one step further to offer his evidence of a possible Google conspiracy theory regarding government and education domains.
“Google has a Librarian’s newsletter, to help teach librarians how search works, and how to trust good resources (ie: who they should be linking at). Help improve our relevancy by linking at quality sites. That was the first two issues of their newsletter, and perhaps its main goal?”
“Imagine Google training one section of the web about how SEO works, and then not providing the same training to other webmasters. That effect alone will add a bias toward .GOV sites, and goes to show the bias they have toward governmental websites (whether or not they admit it exists).”
I have no doubt that getting quality links from .GOV and .EDU sites can help improve a site’s SERPs. And even if Google didn’t technically show preferential treatment to these top-level domains, they would still be valuable, because there’s a better chance that they’re considered authoritative and trusted.