How to Find and Build Powerful EDU Backlinks

SMS Text
How to Find and Build Powerful EDU Backlinks

No matter what you call them (EDU, edu, .edu, EDU TLDs), backlinks from edu websites are often viewed as the cream of the crop in the SEO realm.

Building links to these types of sites can make even the most seasoned link builder smile more than they did at their own college graduation. Nevertheless, this reaction may seem overblown 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 we get into finding these edu linking opportunities and building powerful backlinks to your site, it is 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 proof of this – in fact, Googler John Mu actually wrote just the opposite in a Google Group.

John Mu

screenshot taken 2/10

However, the true value in edu backlinks comes from the same place as any other authoritative site on the web. Sites with edu domains typically have high authority as they have been around for a long time and have many trusted and quality sites linking to them.

This is why many of these sites are viewed as authoritative by Google and this where the power in building backlinks from them exists.

How to Find EDU Backlink Opportunities

Finding the appropriate edu domains is the first step in implementing the necessary strategies to build these powerful backlinks. The list of appropriate sites will vary depending on the particular strategy you are employing, but to get started there are some advanced search modifiers you can use to compile a basic list of target sites.

For example, using the modifier “” will narrow your results down to edu domains.

edu modifier

However, you can use these modifiers to get even more specific and find the best possible targets for your niche.
Here is an example of a search string a local restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin might use to find potential edu domains to link to.

edu search string

screenshot 2/10

As you can see, the SERP returns only edu domains in the Milwaukee area.

Keep in mind that, as with all link building, when you are building these edu backlinks you should keep relevancy 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 truly powerful links.

Tactics for Building Powerful EDU Backlinks

Now let’s take a look at some of the strategies you can implement and how to get edu backlinks. Part of the reason many edu domains are viewed as authoritative is that they do not typically hang out in bad link neighborhoods and they do not simply hand out backlinks. To acquire a backlink from one of these sites, you need to add value. Here are some different techniques you can use to add value to edu domains and get the links you want.

Local Link Building

One of the best strategies you can use to gain some quality edu backlinks is start locally. If the site you are building links to is a local business, start by targeting some local schools and colleges. Look for sites that contain something like a “Local Resources” or “Local Businesses” and ask that you be included.


screenshot of 2/10

You can even take things a step further on the relevancy scale if you can find a local section of the site that pertains to your company’s particular niche i.e. restaurants (local dining) or hotels (local accommodations).

Offer Discounts to Faculty/Staff

Another effective strategy for building edu backlinks is to offer discounts to faculty and staff of specific universities. It is important to remember that Google frowns upon paying for links, so you should not be exchanging discounts for links. Rather, inform the person in charge of discounts at the school (typically someone in the Human Resources Dept.) that their faculty/staff are eligible for a discount for your business and they will most likely be happy to link to your business as this makes it easier for their employees to get your discount.

Again, if you are a local business you should be contacting local colleges. For an e-commerce site, it is really up to you to include as many schools as you want for the discount.


screenshot of 2/10

Typically the webmaster will include a description of the discount you are offering and backlink to your site.

Offer/Create a Scholarship

Alternatively, you can provide value to the students of the school you hope to receive a backlink from by creating a scholarship. Not only will the students benefit, but colleges are usually open to making more scholarships available to students as it makes their institution more affordable.


screenshot of 2/10

Look for a section of the site labeled External/Outside Scholarships and ask if you can include a short description of your scholarship with a link back to your site. It might be a good idea to create a specific landing page for the scholarship that you can link to naturally. In the above example, you can see the college linked to commercial sites like Tylenol and Campus Explorer.

Interview Prominent Faculty/Staff

Another way to naturally build an edu backlink to your site is by interviewing a prominent member of the university’s staff or faculty. This is a great example of egobait as this person’s employer (the college) will most likely want to promote how talented their employee is by linking to the interview. By hosting the interview on your site, you can obtain an edu backlink.


screenshot of 2/10

Again it is important to keep relevancy in mind here. For example, try to find a professor who teaches subjects that are 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 job openings at your company and create a linkable asset at the same time.

Careers page

screenshot of 2/10

College career centers often provide links to job openings that could be pertinent to their students/alumni. It may be possible to get even more relevant here if you can find a specific department posting jobs related to your industry. Furthermore, if you are a local business it would be wise to start with local schools.

Create a Resource Specific to your Niche

As mentioned before, 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 educational white paper that would provide valuable information to students.


screenshot of 2/10

In this example, Cheap Car created this resource on environmentally friendly cars. They were able to get an edu backlink by finding a place on GRU’s website where the resource would be relevant and valuable.

This is why it is useful to target the specific department relevant to your niche and see if they have a resource page where your link would be helpful.

Broken Link Building

Finally, the 404/dead link building strategy can be used to get edu backlinks as well.

Check my links

screenshot of 2/10

Utilizing a tool like Check My Links 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 point out the broken links to the site’s webmaster and ask that they replace them with your relevant resource.


screenshot of 2/10

Check My Links will highlight the link that is 404ing for you and you can even see in this example there is a helpful link that will direct you right to the webmaster.

Backlinks from edu’s can be very powerful and valuable to your SEO efforts. However, it is important to remember that their value doesn’t come from simply being an edu domain. You still want to make sure the sites that link to you are authoritative and trusted. Due to the fact these sites are typically high quality, it will not be easy to build links to them and you’re not going to get the links if you don’t do the work. However, by following the strategies listed here and ensuring you can add value to the sites you pursue, you can find viable edu backlink opportunities.

Jon Ball
Jon Ball is CEO and co-founder of Page One Power. He is a research expert that specializes in the implementation of highly effective link building... Read Full Bio
Jon Ball
Jon Ball
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Darren Zapsky

    With the latest Google updates and so much emphasis on content strategy, this article feels like it’s 2001 again.

    • Jon Ball

      Hi Darren,

      While Google is continuously updating it’s algorithm, links remain a strong ranking factor and relevant links from high quality edu sites continue to be very powerful.

      As I mention in the article, it is important that you are able to add value to any site you are trying to build links to. The strategies listed here involve building links that add value to edu sites as they benefit the users of those sites and I see no reason for any Google update to penalize that.

      I would agree that there is an increased emphasis on content (and more specifically quality content) but you never want to focus on solely one SEO strategy. With that being said, the section in the article – “Create a Resource Specific to your Niche” discusses creating quality content that would beneficial to an edu domain and something they would want to link to.

  • Akeem Bhadmus

    The post is an eye opener and most of the point enumerated are doable. when you give your all to what you believe in, it become blessing. Thanks for this.

    • Jon Ball

      You’re welcome Akeem and thank you for the nice comments.

  • Mark

    Nice, we do SEO in S. Florida so thanks for finding that USF page for me.

    • chris

      smh^^^ please stop reppin S. FLA!!!

      • Mark


  • InfinPixels – London

    So many great ideas! Now, Lets get to work!! Thank you for this…

    • Jon Ball

      You’re welcome, I hope these strategies are helpful!

  • Bilal Sarwari

    Its strange SEJ still promoting these type of link building activities, It will be another time waste campaign as Google is against all type of link schemes.

    • Jon Ball

      Hi Bilal,

      I agree that Google is against link schemes, but the strategies listed here do not fall under that category. These strategies are all about adding value and acquiring a link that is both useful for that site’s audience and makes sense in regards to relevancy.

      The link schemes you mention relate to spammy practices that add no value whatsoever. Here is a list of what Google considers to be link schemes –

  • Frank Ambat

    It’s really hard to build links on .edu sites especially if your site is not really connected in any academic information.

    • Jon Ball

      Hi Frank,

      It certainly is difficult to build links on edu sites, but this is part of what makes these links so powerful (as the bar is set so high).

      If your site does not possess any academic information that would add value to an edu, I would recommend pursuing one of the other strategies listed here. Specifically, the “Local Link Building” strategy. This can be effective as even if your business/site does not provide value through information, it still does provide value through whatever service/product you offer and therefore you should be listed on a local resources page.

      Also, you can always consider creating your own high-quality academic resource that would add value and attract links from edu sites.

      • Frank Ambat

        Hi Jon. You have a point there about creating our own high-quality academic resource. Thank you so much for that informative tips. ^^

  • shailesh

    Really very informative post. edu links is a main part of Off page optimization.
    It’s really helpful for authority sites to get back links from edu site. you get good amount of traffic.
    It really helps us and you have mentioned it in better way to understand.
    Thanks for sharing this very important post here 🙂

    • Jon Ball

      Thank you for the kind comments shailesh. I am glad that this post can be helpful to you!

  • Shane Jones

    A lot of people leaving comments seem to have very little experience in link building. To think that these kind of efforts are against Google is really ridiculous. Yea, they don’t like people trying to specifically build links, but they can’t stop it. Link’s are still a very large portion of the algorithm, so not participating in tactics because everyone online keeps talking about “content marketing” is silly. All of these tactics have worked wonders for my campaigns still, so well done Jon, great post!

    • Jon Ball

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments Shane, I am glad you enjoyed the post!

      I agree that links remain an integral part of Google’s algorithm and I truly believe that link building (when done right) can add value to the web and make things easier for users. This type of link building actually helps improve search results and is not something Google is looking to punish.

  • LinkBuildingJuggernaut

    These are all great strategies for getting some high quality EDU links. Another strategy that is great for getting EDU links is through event calendars on the school’s website. If your company has any type of an event coming up it can be a quick easy way to get a link on an EDU and also add value for their students and readers.

    • Jon Ball

      Thanks for the comments!

      That’s a great tip regarding event calendars! I think that can be very successful as long as you keep relevancy in mind to ensure your event would actually add value to the site’s readership/students. Also, it’s important to consider where the link points. It should lead to a page that provides more information on the event that the person clicking is interested in.

  • Sohail Qaisar

    Great ways to find and build EDU links, thanks 🙂

    • Jon Ball

      You’re welcome Sohail, I hope they are helpful!

  • Imtiaz Ali

    Hello Jon,

    What you think which links are more powerful, EDU OR GOV…???

    • Jon Ball

      Hello Imtiaz,

      While both .edu and .gov links are powerful and you want these types of links in your backlink portfolio, I wouldn’t say that one is necessarily more powerful than the other.

      It really depends on the individual site and the quality metrics associated with it. You always want to check the quality of any site you are linking to, even .edus or .govs can sometimes be linking to bad link neighborhoods. Although .edus and .govs typically have very strong link profiles, it is always best to judge on an individual basis rather than link to these sites simply because they are .edu or .gov domains.

  • Yeasmin Akter

    Hi Jon , thanks for this helpful post. Can I also follow above steps for .gov sites ?

    • Jon Ball

      Hi Yeasmin,

      Although not all of the above strategies will be effective in regards to building links to .gov sites, there are a few that could be slightly adapted and used to pursue these links.

      Some strategies that can be effective include: offering discounts, creating helpful resources and broken link building. Just make sure you are adding value and keep relevancy at the forefront of your mind while implementing these techniques.

      • Yeasmin Akter

        Thanks Jon for your pointful tips, I must follow these.

  • Yeasmin Akter

    Thanks Jon for your pointful tips, I must follow this.

  • Sunday

    Interesting strategies I must say. Building links with EDU sites is sure one of the best steps that can help improve the SEO of a business.

    The things that keep resonating here is that value creation with the schools and ensuring relevancy of content are important.

    These should not be ignored if one wants to build these links!

    Sunday – contributor

    • Jon Ball

      I agree Sunday, and thank you for your comments!

  • sirish kumar

    hey Joh…. interesting read and informative post to find and gain authoritative links. But it takes so much time and requires patience for broken link building!

    • Jon Ball

      Thank you for your comments sirish.

      I agree, it does take time and patience to effectively implement the broken link building strategy. This is the case with all link building practices, because link building is hard work.

      Implementing strategies like the ones listed above can always help increase your chances of success, but you still have to do the work to be effective.

  • Gaurav Gurbaxani

    This looks like some nice clean white-hat backlinks. Links have always had weightage and will continue to do so. That said, an edu link is an authority links so having these is advantageous. Thanks for the refresher..

    • Jon Ball

      You’re welcome Gaurav, thanks for the comments!

  • Mike Glover

    As a .EDU webmaster and Internet Marketing Manager, this article title caught my attention!

    After reading it though, I would agree these are GREAT ideas and are something we would consider linking to in a heart beat! And we are VERY careful about what/who we link to!

    Great job Jon!

    • Jon Ball

      Thank you for the kind words Mike!

      I am happy to receive some feedback from someone with your perspective. People seem to forget that link building can actually be done in a way that adds value to the web.

      You can be much more successful when you approach link building this way, as webmasters like yourself want to link to things that are beneficial to their users or provide value in some way.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful response.

  • ben

    Good article! Just after few backlinks from adult websites, get ready for the next penguin update. It makes no sense to get edu backlinks to my IT blog. Detecting edu unnatural backlinks is easier than detecting any other backlinks. Grow up and provide something new, which must be according to latest trends. Wasn’t expecting this kind of article on SEJ.

    • Jon Ball

      Hi Ben,

      Thank you for your comments.

      I agree that Google is continuously getting better at detecting unnatural links and that is why I emphasize adding value and keeping relevancy in mind, rather than pursuing the types of tactics Google views as link schemes.

      The strategies listed here do not provide the types of unnatural backlinks you mentioned, as they provide value to the site’s users and are the kinds of things webmasters want to link to naturally (see Mike’s comments above).

  • christian

    Hi, I’m in the UK and we don’t have .edu links here as our educational establishments end in

    So when talking about edu links, can this be compared to links here in UK?

    Thank you

    • jonballp1p

      Hi Christian,

      Thanks for the comment.

      These strategies can indeed be applied to building links to sites as well, as these are also educational establishments.

      Just remember that you need to provide value in some way and you should be successful.

  • Billy dean Englebright

    This back link stuff is new to me i am learning more about it thanks

    • jonballp1p

      I’m glad the article was helpful Billy, you’re welcome!

  • Richard Hale

    Jon, excellent article! Every technique you’ve listed is well thought out and brings value to both parties. When you think about link building in the perspective of benefiting both parties in this manner, I would think the results are much better. Brilliant technique in regards to building local. Just like with local citations, there’s a lot of value by staying in your backyard per say. Really appreciate the sound advice. Best wishes Jon and thanks.