Many SEOs may consider .edu backlinks to be very valuable, while others think they are worthless. From my perspective, .edu links are difficult to get and offer a great deal of authority, which makes them quite valuable.
But, these links don’t have to be hard obtain, if you know how to get your website in front of the right people.
With a bit of strategy and well thought-out content, you can run an affordable campaign using social media to attract the right eye balls and possibly get .edu links naturally, no shady buying schemes necessary.
Think About Your Client’s Needs
If your client is in XYZ industry, how can that client’s products, services, or content be used in a classroom? How can it be used by a researcher at a university or even as a resource for students? Don’t focus only on the marketing department — many other people have access to the website and can update sections.
Think about the teachers, students, and departments that link to resources about study abroad or careers or guidance. There are music departments that list events and link to venues and university employees who produce and create data with dedicated sections on the URL.
Look at Classroom Schedules, Topics, or The Required Reading List
Try to find out when or what times of the year a teacher may be teaching a topic — then you can run ads (we’ll go into that shortly) as they are planning their lessons. Another option is to find out what the most popular text books are for XYZ grades or classes, or by school and region and then buy a copy. Look through the book and find a topic that can be relevant to your client’s site, products, or services.
From here you can develop an infographic that can easily describe or clarify a complex topic into an easy to understand resource guide. Both of these then become link bait for the teachers and universities.
If your goal is a specific department within a school or university, think about topics that they like, that could be funny or a fun play on words and develop a comedic infographic or fun post that caters to their sense of humor.
The trick is making sure the end-user of your service finds it useful and it is beneficial to the page.
Create Your Targets and Groups
This is the easy part. Think about it like PPC – start with relevant keywords and then add modifiers and negative keywords to stop your ad from showing to the wrong people. The same should be done with your targeting. If you only want women, block men or target women. If you don’t want people who may be retired or are students, change the age groups to your target ranges.
Depending on the network you use, here are some great targets to use:
- Workplace – The school names or name of the labs or departments.
- Job titles – Professor, Teacher, Educator, Researcher, etc…
- Interests – School sports teams, the school itself, the field they teach or study or the field they research for the university.
- Demographics – If you know there is a skew for the university like women versus men or average age of the teachers (Catholic schools may have all nuns as teachers).
- Location – If you cannot target a school or university by name, try targeting the zip code or the city. You also don’t have to go after the main campus in a metropolitan area. Use a secondary campus which still has professors, students, and researchers that can access and update the website. As long as they have access to the main url, you are good to go.
- Time of day – If you want to get them while they are at the school, only run ads before or after school starts, or during the hours the professors or teachers would be on campus. If they list office hours publicly, that could be the best time.
Facebook Targeting Ideas
In this example, I targeted people based on interests like teaching, unique teaching resources, and teaching resources. (If you have a list of email addresses and the target people include their university email addresses, you could try uploading and marketing to a similar group as well).
What you don’t see is that I also included specific universities like Harvard, University of Maryland, etc. By using this target group and going after the age range of 28 to 45 I am hoping for PHD students looking to be a teacher and professors at specific universities.
If you know that a specific school is going to be teaching a topic, this could be a perfect time to run an ad directly related to that universities curriculum based on the text-book our course outline.
(This is a boost from my timeline. The link goes to my site, but I can also get likes to a fan page. In the next ad I do direct to my site instead of a boost on a time line.)
Next, Create Your Ads
This can be a tricky thing depending on the network you’re using. You can use a visual ad, which can be the infographic, or you could also try using a text ad instead. The trick is to make it relevant to the Teacher or Educator and let them know it’s a free resource that will benefit them.
Now you have provided them with a resource that they can use in their classrooms, and something that may make their lives easier. They may want to reference this resource (it depends if you content actually is good) which can get you that backlink.
Here are a couple of possible text ads you can try.
- Student not understanding XYZ, here’s a free chart to help.
- XYZ stumping students, try this FREE guide
- Think XYZ is boring? Here’s 5 Jokes To Make it Fun!
In this example I created the quick headline and then an ad that reinforces it. I also checked to not show to mobile devices or partner apps. The reason I removed these is because I want people at their computers, not on their phones. This way they can download the image or link to it. This is not as easy to do from a mobile device and if you don’t give the option to email the link to yourself, they may not be able to find your content again.
In the next section, I selected English US and UK for languages and then further targeted the group with job titles and education levels. This helps me to better reach my exact target audience which are professors, students.
Since my goal is PHD and Masters program students and Professors, I set the minimum age range 28. This helps to eliminate high school students and undergrads.
Now I can target further again with different interests like the universities they like, topics they like or even the school they hopefully teach at.
The last step is to go for clicks or impressions. If you have an easy to remember url and can be easily typed in, then go for impressions instead of clicks. If you need to people to click-through and don’t want to rely on direct type ins, then Optimize for Clicks can be a great option as well.
One Group You Don’t Want to Forget
Don’t forget that students may also have access to a website. They may have blogs and social media accounts. By tweaking your ads to make them relevant to the students, you can possibly get more shares to send social signals to the search engines and have copy on the landing page that tells them to show it to their teachers to help the rest of the class.
Letting the students find it and then bring it to the teachers is a great way to add credibility to your content. The teacher may also share it with their peers if they teach the same or similar topics in their universities or classes which can result in even more backlinks.
Getting backlinks from .edu’s can be tricky. Using social media makes it easier to target the people who can give you these links. By creating quality content and being able to reach the right people with advertising, you can now get natural .edu links without a ton of extra effort.