How to Find and Build Powerful EDU Backlinks
No matter what you call them (EDU, edu, .edu, TLD EDU), backlinks from edu websites are high quality links that generally show value and trust.
Building links to these types of sites can make even the most experienced link builder smile than they did when they graduated from college. Nevertheless, this reaction may seem overdone to those unfamiliar with the power of edu backlinks.
Why are edu backlinks so sought after and how could someone relatively new to link building find these opportunities and build these powerful links?
Why are EDU backlinks powerful?
Before you start finding these edu link opportunities and building powerful backlinks to your site, it’s important to understand why they are so powerful.
While some may theorize that Google values these types of links simply because they are edu domains, there is no evidence for this – in fact, Googler John Mu actually wrote the exact opposite in a google group.
However, the true value of edu backlinks comes from the same place as any other authoritative site on the web. Sites with edu domains usually have high authority because they have been around for a long time and have many trusted and quality sites linked to them.
This is why many of these sites are considered authoritative by Google and this is where the power to build backlinks from them exists.
How to Find EDU Backlink Opportunities
Finding the right edu domains is the first step in implementing the strategies needed to build those powerful backlinks. The list of suitable sites will vary depending on the particular strategy you employ, but to get started there are a few advanced search modifiers you can use to compile a basic list of target sites.
For example, using the “site:.edu” modifier will limit your results to edu domains.
However, you can use these modifiers to be even more specific and find the best possible targets for your niche.
Here is an example of a search string that a local restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin might use to find potential edu domains to link to.
As you can see, the SERP only returns edu domains in the Milwaukee area.
Keep in mind that, as with all link building, when building these edu backlinks, you need to keep relevance and usefulness (to the audience/user) in mind. You should focus on finding places where your links would make sense and add value. By doing this you can build some really powerful links.
Tactics for Building Powerful EDU Backlinks
Now let’s look at some of the strategies you can implement and how to get edu backlinks. Part of the reason many edu domains are considered authoritative is that they generally don’t hang out in bad link neighborhoods and don’t just hand out backlinks. To acquire a backlink from one of these sites, you need to add value. Here are a few different techniques you can use to add value to edu domains and get the links you want.
Creation of local links
One of the best strategies you can use to get quality edu backlinks is to start locally. If the site you are linking to is a local business, start by targeting some local schools and universities. Look for sites that contain something like “local resources” or “local businesses” and ask to be included.
You can even go further down the relevance scale if you can find a local section of the site that relates to the particular niche of your business, i.e. restaurants (local eateries) or hotels (local lodging ).
Offer faculty/staff discounts
Another effective strategy for building edu backlinks is to offer discounts to faculty and staff at specific universities. It’s important to remember that Google frowns on paying for links, so you shouldn’t trade discounts for links. Instead, let the person in charge of discounts at the school (usually someone in the HR department) know that their faculty/staff are eligible for a discount for your company and that they will most likely be happy to connect with your company because this makes it easier for their employees to get your discount.
Again, if you are a local business, you should contact local colleges. For an e-commerce site, it’s really up to you to include as many schools as you want for the discount.
Typically, the webmaster will include a description of the discount you’re offering and a link back to your site.
Offer/Create a scholarship
Alternatively, you can provide value to students at the school you hope to backlink from by creating a scholarship. Not only will students benefit, but colleges are generally willing to offer more scholarships to students because it makes their institution more affordable.
Look for a section of the site titled External/Outside Scholarships and ask if you can include a brief description of your scholarship with a link to your site. It might be a good idea to create a specific scholarship landing page that you can link to naturally. In the example above, you can see the college linked to shopping sites like Tylenol and Campus Explorer.
Interview prominent faculty/staff
Another way to naturally build an edu backlink to your site is to interview a prominent member of university staff or faculty. It’s a great example of egobait because that person’s employer (the university) will probably want to promote their employee’s talent by linking it to the interview. By hosting the interview on your site, you can get an edu backlink.
Again, it’s important to keep relevance in mind here. For example, try to find a professor who teaches subjects closely related to your niche.
Create a Careers/Jobs Page
Creating a careers/jobs page can be another effective way to get edu backlinks. By creating this page, you can post jobs at your company and create a linkable resource at the same time.
College career centers often provide links to job postings that might be relevant to their students/alumni. It may be possible to be even more relevant here if you can find a specific department posting jobs related to your industry. Also, if you are a local business, it would be wise to start with local schools.
Create a resource specific to your niche
As mentioned earlier, edu link building, and all link building for that matter, is about adding value. Creating a valuable resource specific to your industry will give you something that an edu website would be willing to link to. Examples would be an in-depth case study or an instructional white paper that would provide valuable insight to students.
In this example, Cheap Car Insurance.net has created this resource on eco-friendly cars. They were able to get an edu backlink by finding a place on the GRU website where the resource would be relevant and valuable.
That’s why it’s worth targeting the specific department for your niche and seeing if it has a resource page where your link would be useful.
Creation of broken links
Finally, the 404/dead link building strategy can also be used to get edu backlinks.
Using a link finder can help you find broken links quickly and easily. This strategy can be combined with your aforementioned resource by finding an edu with a resource page that has broken links. Simply report broken links to the site’s webmaster and ask them to replace them with your relevant resource.
Check My Links will highlight the link that is 404ing for you and you can even see in this example that there is a useful link that will direct you directly to the webmaster.
Edus backlinks can be very powerful and valuable to your SEO efforts. However, it’s important to remember that their value doesn’t just come from being an edu domain. You always want to make sure that the sites linking to you are authoritative and trustworthy. Since these sites are usually high quality, it won’t be easy to link to them and you won’t get the links if you don’t do the work. However, by following the strategies listed here and ensuring that you can add value to the sites you are researching, you can find viable edu backlink opportunities.
Image via DepositPhotos, screenshots taken February 2014.