Blog entry

Getting Quality .EDU Backlinks

The Value of Links

Cincinnati Bearcat Mascot

Search algorithms, like the one that Google uses, partly depend on hyperlinks for finding new websites and measuring a website's authority on a subject.  Generally the higher a website's authority on a subject the higher that website ranks in Google search results.  Links from other sites to your website are like votes that say, “hey this place knows what they’re doing”.  Of course over the years this has been exploited, and has caused Google to change their algorithm a number of times...with infamously named algorithm changes like Panda and  Penguin which resulted in the devaluing of low quality backlinks.  Even after all the exploits and the algorithm smack downs, quality links still hold value when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.

All links aren’t created equally.  Websites with higher authority can pass some of that authority to your website by linking to you.  Many people in the industry refer to this link authority as “link juice”. Since the last of the Google Penguin updates, the opposite is also true.  A link from a low quality website with a bad reputation can pass some of that bad reputation back to your website. Now a days you may hear about disavowing links.  That basically means you tell the search engines, “Hey, this site is linking to me, but I don’t know them and I don’t want to be associated with them”.  Disavowing links is a whole other topic for another day.

The Value of .edu Links

The most authoritative links come from government (gov) and education (edu) domains; today I’m showing you how to get links from edu domains. These domains hold more value in the eyes of Google, because not everyone can get a .gov or a .edu website to start passing out links, so they are less exploitable by SEO folks.  Now that’s not to say it doesn’t happen.  You’ll find a lot of people online offering cheap edu backlinks, but many of the ones I’ve seen are from comment or profile spam on student blogs.

So now you’re asking, “How can I get these rare quality edu links?”  In the words of a great marketer...”Do Real Company Sh*t”.  If you're a service company or a restaurant and you're in a college town, here’s a link building idea for you.

Data Mining for EDU Links

Here's a method to data mine for relevant .edu websites that will reward you for doing RCS with links. One of the easiest ways to find websites that you can get links from is with a Google search, using special search operators. For this example we're going to use the following Google search:

site:edu card "where to use" "off campus"

Wow, look at all those results! The above Google search returns colleges that have a student payment card and a web page of vendors who accept that card for payment. If you have a service that a college student could use, start accepting their schools card and get listed on that schools website with a link back to your site. Now, you may have to clean up this data a little bit, but it should give you a pretty good start, especially if you narrow your search down by region. You may even find by tweaking the verbiage of the search you get better results, but this is the one that worked for me. These are valuable links for search engines as well as people, and you don't have to do anything sleazy to get them.
If you live in the Greater Cincinnati Area, I'll save you a little time.  The University of Cincinnati has the Bearcat Card and here's where your link will go if you except it,




Hey there

This is a pretty freaking smart thing to do, esp to build high quality local citations. DAAAAAAMN!! Going to have to present this at a conference and shout you out, for now I'll just tweet.

Thanks Wil

Your talks are awesome, and you're more than welcome to use my post!

Thank You!

I was at MozCon 2013 and Wil Reynolds included a link to this article in his presentation. The best part is our local business IS located in the Greater Cincinnati Area. Much appreciated ;-)

You're Welcome!

Nice! Glad to help, hope you can benefit from it.


This is a great tip, but looks like UC only links to Google Places or Google Maps now. Less of an SEO impact, but still good for biz.

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