Are Links From .edu and .gov Domains Really "Better?"

Apr 19, 2006 • 10:20 am | comments (10) by twitter | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) often involves a link building initiative. Depending on the popularity of a keyword phrase targeted, as well as the strength of competing highly-ranked sites, this can be a very tricky process - requiring links from a variety of domains. Over the past year or so, it has been widely reported that links from .edu and .gov top level domains (TLD’s- like the more common .com or .org) carry more weight than others.

A recent thread started at High Rankings Forum features a very good discussion about the value of inbound links from Educational and Government sites. The member asks simply if there is any proof that .edu and .gov domains in fact “count more” when a search engine evaluates inbound links. Jill Whalen immediately responded with a simple “no” answer. In this case, Jill seems to be fighting the tide, as many SEO’s believe the answer is “yes” or even “definitely.”

Another member, Edward Lewis, has offered some interesting comments on TLD’s. One of his strongest arguments begins:

I know for a fact that the .gov and .edu domains are natural authorities out of the gate. Why? Because they have very strict guidelines to first secure the domain, and then maintain it...

Yet this argument is rebutted by another member who asks if any of the search engines has come out and stated that these TLD’s are more highly regarded. Of course, we all know that this scenario is as unlikely as the SE's releasing any other information on its ranking algorithm. In my personal research, I have found high ranking sites that have a noticeable percentage of .edu and .gov’s. In fact, one large website that I recently analyzed had literally pages of .edu’s in its Yahoo Site Explorer backlink report.

See the rest of the discussion at High Rankings Forums. (I only covered the information on the first of three pages so far)

A related recent SER post: “Standford University Removed Paid Links and 'Hosted Pages'"

Previous story: Search Engine Watch Has Strong Bias Towards Last Names With "S"


Michael Martinez

04/19/2006 04:09 pm

As I pointed out in a late post to the thread, Matt Cutts did claim that Google gives no "Yahoo!-boost" or "edu-boost" or "gov-boost". The claim is treated with some skepticism by many SEOs, but it is at least one search engineer's personal comment on the topic. I have personally backed off from thinking there is such a boost largely because of Matt's comment. But the other arguments that people make about how quality for those top-level domains is derived from their strict guidelines are very persuasive, and they confirm the logic in Matt's own position.


04/19/2006 04:30 pm

Thanks Michael for your comment. I guess I should have written that it is unlikely that SE's would reveal non-potentially misleading information abotu its algorithms. I greatly appreciate what Matt has done for us all, but sometimes we must consider primary research and concensus opinions above secondary research and what emissaries like Matt are allowed to say.

Dan Jeffers

04/20/2006 06:55 pm

Many government and educational sites are going to be authority sites regardless of the TLD, because they usually have authoritative information and many, many, many people link to them. Whether the TLD, itself gives an additional boost would be almost impossible to discover without direct admission from the search engines.


04/22/2006 04:03 pm

Chris, thanks for the coverage on this topic. I'm not sure if you got to read everything before it was removed, it was an interesting discussion to say the least. We've since published an article based on the information we've researched and have real experience with. I hope those that followed along can make an informed decision as to whether certain TLDs are Trusted in the general sense. It is clearly evident that .edu and .gov links fall within this category. What are Trusted Top Level Domains?

Chris Boggs

04/23/2006 02:30 pm

well Edward I must say that is quite a thread...amazing discussion over such a semmingly "simple" question. 8 pages now...


07/03/2007 05:53 am

Well, IMO it's just that .gov and .edu domains naturally tend to have superior quality content and it's also a fact that getting such TLDs is very difficult and you can't have one unless you prove your authority. Due to the authority and also for the content these sites have, they naturally attract links from other quality and trusted sites which in turn increases their TR. Hence getting links from these sites give you an additional boost. It's all in the links ! ;)

hebergement algerie

09/06/2008 09:41 am

I personnaly experienced an increasing position in google just for some few posts on an embassy web site posted comments

Chauffeur Tuscany

02/26/2011 10:50 am

Does anyone know if there are .edu with forums open to all to post comments on? And how valuable a backlink to one's website from such posted comments would be?

Sweet Text Messages

03/03/2011 01:53 pm

I did a bit of research once. Bought 2 domain names same keywords just one had hyphens. I linked 20 PR4 dofollow links from pages to one site and 20 PR4 follow links from .edu pages to the other. The site with the .edu links ranked 6 places higher on google. I think .edu links are definately better.


07/05/2011 05:59 pm

From my experience the .edu and .gov links have definitely higher value than any other domain.   

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