Edu link building (pronounced “ee-dee-you” not “eh-doo”) refers to backlinks from an “.edu” (i.e., educational institutions) domain extension.
A link from an edu website is so coveted because of the authority and trust they confer, and not just any site can get the edu domain.
It requires permission and certification from a government ministry that ensures you are actually an educational institute.
Google, of course, understands that this is the case, and it treats backlinks from edu domains accordingly, which is to say, with a lot of authority.
Edu links and SEO value
To reiterate, it is not easy to get an edu backlink.
It’s rarely easy to get any backlink, as a matter of fact, which is why so many companies choose to outsource the heavy lifting to an experienced link building service.
Universities, colleges and most educational institutions have reputations and brands to uphold. They tend not to give out links as freely as other educational institutions.
If you can get them, however, they can do wonders for your backlink profile, domain authority and, therefore, your ranking and organic traffic.
Most post-secondary institutions have been around for a long time, and their pages (especially blog pages) are regularly linked to by a large number of trusted domains across the web.
Edu sites get a lot of editorial backlinks that are given freely, which makes them highly authoritative and trustworthy.
If you can get them to pass some of that link juice on to you, you’re doing something right.
Edu links can only be gotten through hard work
Edu backlinks are not the kind of links you get from link schemes.
What we are referring to here are black hat link building tactics that try to, essentially, trick Google into thinking you have a legitimate link.
Very often, lazy link builders who know they have nothing to offer a big edu site, will nonetheless try their luck by doing things like (among other tricks) leaving links in the comment section of the site’s blog articles, hoping to slip one past the site master.
It is highly unlikely the comment and link will survive long enough to pass on any link juice at all and, in all likelihood, as is the case with most comment link spam, it will be automatically set to nofollow anyways.
Edu link building relies on:
- Providing actual value
- Creating link-worthy content (i.e., resource pages and linkable assets)
Why is edu link building so exclusive?
Getting high authority backlinks of any kind is hard enough, but now factor in the comparatively limited number of edu domains on the web and you are trying to build links in an even smaller ecosystem.
There are far fewer edu domains on the web than there are .com ones.
Building links to post-secondary websites requires experience, patience and a lot of trial and error.
Edu links send strong trust signals
Links from post-secondary institutions are so powerful because colleges and universities are considered reputable, expert sources of information by search engines.
A .edu domain covers all of the EAT metrics that Google is looking to see and virtually anything they create is going to be favored by the Google algorithm.
In the below sections, we will go into some of the edu link building strategies you can put into practice on your own.
How to build edu backlinks
Alright, we’ve spent the last few hundred words talking about how difficult it is to land those coveted edu backlinks, now let's dive into how to actually acquire them.
We wouldn’t be putting this resource together if it wasn’t actually possible to get edu links.
The most important thing to keep in mind moving forward is that the foundation of edu link building is strong relationships with site managers and institution staff.
Method 1: Try to get yourself listed on resource pages
The resource page tactic is basically guest posting for edu domains.
The majority of educational institutions have “resource pages” that function similar to a blog page.
The difference is that the topics on resource pages aren’t categorized by niche, they usually cover things that partners, staff and students will be interested in.
If you have something you think would be genuinely useful to any of the three aforementioned stakeholders, you can try your luck pitching them a piece of content.
Google is the best way to find resource pages.
Try entering the following:
site:.edu + niche keyword + inurl:resource
Doing this gathers a list of websites that have .edu domains and contain:
- Resource page
- Content that overlaps with the niche keyword you entered
Browse through some of their existing posts to better understand the kind of content they publish.
Once you think you’re ready to actually pitch an idea, reach out to the site manager.
Method 2: Offer discounts to staff and students
If you are a business with products/services (i.e., you’re not a pure digital marketing play), you might consider offering staff and students discounts.
A lot of university websites have pages specifically for these kinds of offers.
This can be a fantastic way to get edu links because the school is not linking to you as an authority, but simply because you have something useful to offer.
The best part: you might end up getting a link, more traffic and actual sales using this method.
To locate these sorts of offer and discount pages at educational institutions, enter the following advanced search strings into Google:
- site:.edu “student discounts”
- site:.edu “staff discounts”
- site:.edu “discounts”
Click on a few of the search engine results and see what kinds of offers they have.
Once that’s done, you can then set about creating an offer you think would make sense for the page and reach out to the relevant person.
Method 3: create a scholarship
This method of edu link building is also known as “scholarship link building” and you need to be careful here because Google is aware of the scams that unscrupulous link builders try to run.
Essentially the way scholarship link building works is you create a bursary of scholarship and have universities list it on their scholarship page.
To do this, however, you actually need to be willing to provide the scholarship.
When this edu backlink tactic first emerged many years ago, what you had was a deluge of link builders essentially scamming universities into including links to phony scholarship pages.
Many sites would slap together a quick page about a scholarship they were allegedly offering, and request applicants write an essay, but they would never actually select a winner or provide the scholarship.
It’s extremely unethical and, of course, Google cracked down on it.
Universities also became wise to it and are much more diligent when it comes to linking to anything purporting to be a “scholarship” opportunity.
Finding scholarship opportunities with Google is easy. Google any of the following search strings:
- site:.edu “scholarships”
- site:.edu “financial aid”
- site:.edu scholarships inurl:donor
Have a look at the kinds of scholarships on offer and then create something you think would be attractive to both the schools and their students.
Reach out to a handful of .edu domains about your offer and let them know you are interested in providing their students with a scholarship opportunity.
Extra costs involved
The extra costs involved in this form of link building are obvious: you actually have to set aside money for the winners.
You also have to dedicate some time to evaluating their submissions and choosing the winner(s).
Don’t try to get edu links this way if you are not willing to do the right thing. You will hurt your reputation and might even find yourself penalized by Google for what essentially amounts to fraud.
Method 4: try interviewing prominent faculty members
You can sometimes get great edu backlinks if you are able to secure interviews with prominent faculty members.
There are a lot of professors, researchers and lecturers that have blogs on these edu domains and they, like any blogger, love the opportunity to link to content they have been featured in.
This creates a great opportunity for link builders.
Of course, it’s not as simple as just requesting an interview with someone.
You need to find the faculty members you are interested in interviewing and then reach out to get their opinion on a relevant topic.
You also need to have a website that they are comfortable lending their image to, especially if you are looking to do a full-length interview and not just get a quote for your article.
Ideally, you would reach out to a variety of academics at different institutions to maximize your number of powerful edu backlinks.
After you’ve used a quote or an interview snippet in your article, reach out to the participants and provide them with a link to the finished content and urge them to share it on their website and social networks.
Method 5: refer to edu bloggers when writing content
A lot of schools and post-secondary institutions have bloggers who regularly contribute articles.
Very often, these bloggers (often students and adjunct professors) don’t get a lot of recognition and appreciation for their hard work.
It’s either a labor of love or they are just practicing and flexing their writing muscles.
You can often end up with some great edu links if you can identify these people and mention their work in your content.
How to do it
The first step is to identify the bloggers you want to reference. Their work is usually found on the edu site’s blog or a similar resource page.
All you have to do now is find content that would work well in your article, mention (and link to it) and then let the writer know.
It is important that you make the mention and link appear natural. Simply shoehorning in a piece of content and dropping a name to get a link is going to be seen for what it is: low effort and presumptuous.
You probably won’t land many edu links this way.
As always, after you’ve let the writer know you’ve referenced them and their work, provide a link to the article and encourage them to share the content on their blog or social media channels.
Method 6: careers and job web pages
Done right, a thoughtful and sincere career and jobs page on your site can land you a lot of edu backlinks.
Post-secondary institutions want to educate their students and equip them with the expertise and skills necessary to land a job in their field once they graduate.
Employed students and alumni are happy students and alumni, and it’s good for the schools too. Employed students pay off loans.
A lot of post-secondary institutions have career pages that list job and career opportunities for students.
If you think your business could potentially employ a current or graduating student, it might be a good idea to create a jobs page for your site and then let post-secondary institutions know about it.
The major conditional factor here is that you need to be able to offer multiple jobs. One job offer isn’t enough.
If you don’t have the budget to pay multiple people, an alternative is to offer internship positions.
On your careers page, list things like:
- The variety of opportunities available
- The qualities you want in a candidate
Once you have your career page published, get in touch with universities and colleges and let them know you are open to applications from their current, former and prospective students.
This method can potentially garner you a lot of edu links, and all you had to do was create one simple, functional careers page.
Method 7: look for broken link building opportunities
Broken link building is a potentially very effective link building strategy, and it is also one of the most underrated.
Here you have the opportunity to provide a ton of value to website owners or webmasters and, crucially, to minimize the amount of work they need to do to include a link to your site.
There are three critical elements of broken link building:
- You have to know how to find the broken links
- You have to have high quality replacement content
- You need to be willing to do the leg work for the site owner
Finding the links
The best way to find broken links at scale is to use an SEO tool like Ahrefs.
The way this works is you simply plug the URL you are interested in analyzing into Ahrefs’ site explorer.
Click on the “best by links” dashboard on the left side of the screen
And then filter the results by 404 links.
This will show you all of the “dead” links (those that take you to a 404 error page because the page is broken or no longer exists).
After this, you can use the Wayback machine to see what that page used to be:
All you need to do now is recreate the same content in your own words or provide a piece of content you have already published that is a good match for the topic.
After you’ve done both of those steps, simply reach out to the webmaster, inform them of their broken link(s) and offer up yours as a replacement.
A prop tip when doing broken link building is to do as much of the leg work as possible.
Although you are already bringing a potential user experience issue (i.e., the broken link) to the attention of the site manager, they still have to go into the page, take your link, insert it and save changes.
Depending on whether or not your content is an exact match topically, they might even have to adjust or think up new surrounding text and anchor text.
If you want to increase the odds that someone will use your link and content, go the extra mile and offer them anchor and surrounding text suggestions so that they can just plug and play.
Method 8: don’t forget about alumni and associations pages
Most colleges and universities try to stay in touch with alumni (for fundraising etc.).
If alumni do something noteworthy, schools also like to showcase their successful former students and let the world/future students know that studying at X university can pay off.
With this edu link building tactic, you are limited to the institutions where you have actually spent time and studied.
You also need to have done something newsworthy in order to be mentioned, of course. This might be a current or past project, a discovery you have made or events that you have run.
If you are an academic yourself, it might be research papers you have published or interesting case studies you have worked on.
Anything that the school might consider an achievement worthy of publicizing works.
A few important additional edu link building considerations
Here a few things to bear in mind as you attempt to add edu links to your backlink profile
There are more opportunities than you might be aware of
When building edu links, it’s important to know that it’s not only colleges and universities that can provide you with edu backlinks.
Community colleges, art schools, sport academies, and religious seminaries are also worthwhile inclusions in any edu link building campaign.
Edu link building is high effort, high reward
If you are looking for an easy link, edu backlinks are probably not for you.
They take a lot of time and might require you to create resource pages on your website specifically for the purposes of link building.
You might have to kindle and nurture relationships with busy people.
It’s a slow burn approach to link building that can definitely pay off, but it is not something that happens overnight.
You need a well established site for it to work
Edu links are only really possible if you have established something of a brand for yourself and some serious site authority.
Edu domains and the institutions behind them only want to link to reputable, trustworthy sites. Your year-old affiliate website is not going to be a good candidate for these types of backlinks.
Edu links don’t guarantee better ranking
While backlinks from high authority, high trust websites are ideal links, Google has never come out and said that edu links are sure shots.
Page and referring domain relevance also factor into how an edu link will affect your ranking and organic traffic.
Make sure that, whatever links you are getting and sites you are targeting, they are not only high quality backlinks, but niche relevant.
Getting links from relevant websites should always be a top priority.
A link from an edu website is always worthwhile.
Incorporating quality edu backlinks into your search engine optimization is a good way to incorporate high authority, high trust links into your backlink profile.
The main thing to keep in mind with this tactic is that getting links from educational websites can take a lot of time and effort.
Only a website owner who has done the hard work of building a credible, quality website really stands a chance of converting edu backlinks.
It is also important to understand that edu backlinks are just one facet of a comprehensive, successful link building strategy.
This is where a company like dofollow comes in. Find out more about our multifaceted user-centric approach to link building and let us take your ranking and organic to the next level, today.
Why Trust Us On SEO
Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.
Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.
While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.