Friday, April 18, 2014

Are EDU Backlinks Needed? Internal Case Findings.

I wanted to bring up an important point my fellow employee Daniel Rosenstein wrote earlier in an e-mail for work. I really thought this should be brought up since people today still feel that .edu links are gonna take higher priority than any other back link effort. Let me be honest, the findings Daniel found are incredible, and hopefully you can learn something too. Here are his findings:

EDU Backlinks

Per our discussion about the importance of EDU backlinks. There are good edu backlinks to get, but to help educate everyone on the team, I wanted to point out what some people are doing to get backlinks to EDU’s and things we need to avoid so we avoid getting penalized in the future.

To my point earlier, EDU backlinks can be helpful but it depends on different factors, including the relevancy to our site or page, authority of the school, and what page it is on the site.

Below is a EDU that has a bunch of links on it, one of them pointing  to  The link is a deep link on a subdomain of the site, the page looks spammy (it says on the page, “this site is under construction”, and the url also looks spammy. This page does not look like a trusted page on the site.

This is an example of  bad .edu link to get even though Berkeley is an authority school.

The problem with EDU links is that a number of shady SEO’s in the past have paid webmasters on EDU sites to put their link on the site or created fake EDU online schools to get EDU backlinks. Google knows this and therefore devalued a lot of .EDU links. I doubt many universities watch every page on their site.  For some universities, they allow students or non authority people to create their own pages on the site.

This link even to Harvard, one of the most prestigious universities,  has a redirect in their blog link,
, really spammy. Their blog either got hacked or their webmaster is getting paid to do a redirect to another link. So getting backlinks from a subdomain or blog that has little editorial review probably has no value.

Here is another example of a  bad .edu link, . This page has thousands of links on it and there isn’t any valuable to this page. Why is the purpose of linking to all these sites? We want to stay away from putting our link on a page that appears spammy and/or has thousands of links on it. We want to stay away on getting on a page that  has thousands of links, it doesn’t look like there was much editorial decision making if any.

Below are examples of .edu backlinks from our competitors.  Majority of competitor links are on resource pages:

I kept this part confidential based in our competitor's and non disclosure agreement.
So remember not all EDU backlinks are equal and some are really bad and just because it has a .edu TLD, doesn’t give it special authority because it has an .EDU as the end of the domian. Google says about EDU links are as follows:
“In general, I would like to add that no, backlinks from .EDU domains generally do not get “additional credibility from Google.” Because of that, the whole topic of working especially hard to talk webmasters of these domains into linking to your sites seems a bit problematic…”

Getting .edu links from authority EDU sites that are finance related are good, but a low authority .edu site or an .edu from an agricultural school won’t help us. Getting links from government sites, high authority financial sites like Forbes and high authority news sites like the Wall Street Journal are probably more valuable to us than many .edu links that are out there. I do think that we get backlinks from some of the top business schools main site, will be good.

When it comes to backlinks diversity of high authority and diversity are important. We should not just focus on getting EDU links since they are not more important than high authority finance sites. We don’t want to only get the same backlinks over and over otherwise it looks like we are trying to game the system, and Google looks for these type of things and could lead to a penalty. There should be a purpose of people linking to us. Google keeps saying links she be natural from people liking our content, not us trying to force or pay people to put a link on their site. We need to focus more on “link earning” and not “link building” through authority/compelling content and good content promotion. When you check out the bad links mentioned in this email you start to understand why Google has cracked down on link building and nullified the value of many back links out there including EDU links.


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