There’s a belief among many search engine optimizers that links from college websites (aka EDU links) carry more link juice than typical COM, NET and ORG TLD links. Because of that belief, many SEO specialists spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy trying to build up links on any page that resides on an EDU TLD. It’s such a popular practice that college students are taking advantage of it and other entrepreneurs are going so far as to setup EDU brokerage services. For example, Google for edu links and what you’ll find are ads for buying none other than “top edu links.”
EDU links can have a positive effect on a website’s search engine performance, because similar to GOV (government) TLDs, they are usually commercial free and are often seen as high authority websites. However, it’s not necessarily because of their TLD, it’s because other well respected websites, like major media outlets and colleges link to them. So, getting an inbound link from an EDU TLDs to your website is desirable, which is one of the reasons we check for inbound EDU links on our Backlink Analyzer (one of our Raven SEO tools). However, getting EDU links the easy way isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Often times, when you use brokerage services and other too-good-to-be-true services, the quality of the links end up not being worth the trouble. A good example of an undesirable EDU link can be found on australia.edu.
Personally, unless it makes sense to seek out EDU links — the website is somehow related to an educational topic or program — we don’t waste our time trying to seek those kind of links. However, if we did have a website that would be fairly easy to market via EDU links, we would use some or all of these techniques:
- Seek out programs and professors that are a good fit for your website. Then study their work and make contact with them. Request to interview them about current or unpublished work. Publish and promote their work and they will usually reciprocate. The key thing to remember is that the educational system is built on ego and self-interest. Use that to your advantage.
- Look for online school newspapers and make contact with writers and editors. Seek out ways to get a story written about your client’s website (even if it’s a loose reference). College students need money, so offer it if it makes sense to.
- Most colleges provide an online presence for their students. Be creative and come up with non-spammy ways to make contact with students. Then pay them to write something and link to your website. The key here is to keep things looking as natural as possible. It’s not just for search engines, it’s also for school authorities, because you want to stay under the radar of school officials.
- Start your own college…just kidding.