For a long time, SEO experts have believed that links from government (.gov) or educational (.edu) sites are worth their weight in gold. Educational and government institutions are unbiased, respected sources of information (more so than the average Joe.info) and so a link from them is a good sign that your site is also trustworthy.
So is this actually the case? Does a .gov or .edu backlink give you more “oomph” purely owing to the snazzy TLD? Or is this the internet equivalent of an old wives’ tale?
It seems the camp is divided. On one hand we’ve got the “official word” coming from Google spokesperson Matt Cutts, saying that there is no bias towards government and education links. He mentions it in his video blog and again more recently on his personal blog page.
... And on the other hand we have anecdotal evidence from respected voices in the SEO community who say that Google is spinning a yarn right there. Prominent SEO blogger Aaron Wall expressed his disbelief in a blog post where he describes sites with lower PageRanks performing better than sites with higher PageRanks. Guess what these low PR sites had? Links from .edu and .gov domains.
Big-time SEO analysts Moz also came to the incredulity party, with a line from Google’s US patent application (#20050071741 - Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data, for the snoops amongst you), which speaks in part of using “government documents” as a factor that attributes a greater level of “trust” to the link.
So who is right here? Are Google just trying to obfuscate this fact so that education departments don’t start selling links to boost faculty budgets? Is it actually true that government and education sites just tend to have higher PageRanks, and that’s why their links can be so valuable?
We’re not picking sides in this debate. Instead we’re going to say that if you want to try it out, we’ve got a pretty cool tool for helping you pick up some .edu and .gov backlinks...
In the Trusted Sites Tool, you can search for government or educational sites from a number of different regions including the USA, Australia, Germany, New Zealand and the UK / Ireland. The trusted sites tool will search for relevant government and education sites that allow you to contribute content – either on a forum or a blog post.
To use it, simply enter your keyword phrase in the Keyword field. For example, if you are in the dog training niche, enter a broad phrase like “dog training”, and the tool will generate a report with a list of pages where you can post a link to your site.
Lets have a look at the table of results above – In the keyword column, you'll see the main keyword that has been found on the site. The site type indicates whether the site is a a blog or forum. The Extension tells you whether it's an education or government site. The Follow icon shows if the backlink from user contributed content is a no-follow (red x), a do-follow (green tick) or unknown (question mark). You can sort the report by clicking on the column headings. For the example above, I've sorted the table by PageRank by clicking the PR column heading, so I can select the sites that have the highest PageRank.
The Link to Comment is the link to take you to the specific page the tool has found. Click on this link to go and post a comment with a link back to your site!
For some people this might be where it would end, but let me suggest some other strategies you could also use to get better quality backlinks from these sites. If you've found a site that is particularly relevant to your niche, offer to write a guest article or blog as an expert in the field. If you approach this in the right way, chances are you'll get the opportunity to post a link to your site, and this will likely be a higher profile link than if you had just commented in their blog or forum.
Educational sites are often lacking in style and design – if you've developed some web design or SEO skills in your site building activity, why not offer your services to help them bring their website up to date. They may well be happy for you to add a link back to one of your sites – just be up front and open about doing it!
There are plenty of other strategies you could consider too – be creative! We'd love to hear of any ideas that you're using to generate links from these respected sites – does anyone have anything they'd be willing to share?
Start using our Trusted Sites Tool now! If you need more help, watch the training video under 'Getting Started'. If you're not a premium member – sign up today to access this tool, and all our other Affiliate Marketing tools exclusively available with premium membership!