.edu Link Strategies, Fallacies and Common Sense
Updated August 11, 2015. Originally written September 12, 2006
One of the ongoing link building hot topics is the impact that inbound links originating from .edu domains can have on your search rankings. Lost in the discussion is that the quality of links from within the .edu domain varies significantly.
Rather than making this concept more complex than it needs to be, let’s boil it down by example. A link from a student homepage or school paper web site isn’t as valuable as a link from a professor’s page, or better yet, the University library site. Why? because it’s easy for those who are into black hat stuff to buy links from students, whereas a librarian isn’t likely to be bought. Thus the content EARNED the link, and the source and citation can be trusted. Engines know this and will tweak algos until they get it right. I hope, anyway. Give me 10 library links instead of 100 student page links any day.
Another .edu link seeking tactic that’s been used to death is the “discount” approach, where you offer a discount on your products to the faculty, staff or students at a University, and by doing so you end up with a link on their discount page, like this. I’m not saying this is a bad strategy 100% of the time, but if you are doing it just for organic search rank, it could come back to bite you.
Likewise with .gov and others. Any TLD has junk, and any TLD has gold.
Another linking topic that gets “experts” all excited is geographic IBL variety. This is another way of saying you need links from a bunch of countries. Not true. Links from around the world may not matter one IOTA for your particular site.
More fallacy regarding directory inclusion. I can say with certainty that the older the site the more useless those directory IBLs are. I rank 1st for all key terms and I’m in only two directories. Why do I rank? Simple. Because a). I never went after rank, and B). I stayed true to my content and expertise. That said, since I do rank high I can reverse analyze my links and learn why. I can say with an absurd confidence what your links need to look like in order to rank well, but just because I can tell you doesn’t mean you can get those links. You have to earn them via meritorious content.
For a newer site, the game changes. The new site’s IBL profile or “link transcript” or “link signature” needs to slowly percolate towards becoming something that looks natural and trustworthy. I see evidence every day that the links that help me rank 1st will not help every site site rank 1st.
So what works for one site WILL NOT work for every site, which is why it’s such a challenge to create software/tools that can analyze links with any degree of confidence. In the end, a human still has to make some very tricky decisions about whether or not ANY link is worth pursuing. The answer will be different for every site, and thus the potential link target sites need to be different as well.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic and others, I cover them in detail the LinkMoses Private
Link well my friend,