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'"