If you’ve been in the SEO or link building game for any period of time you’ve undoubtedly heard all the talk about how valuable .edu links are. If you’re an old hand at SEO you undoubtedly have a few tricks up your sleeve to try to land these white whales of SEO. If you’re a bootstrapper, however, these may seem unattainable. Fear not, young link building samurais, as I’m about to show you a handful of different, and entirely free ways you can earn these incredibly valuable links.
One thing Universities seem to like is when people can afford to go there. So, offering a scholarship or a scholarship competition can be a great way to attract .edu links.
The Women’s Foodservice Forum. This organization offers a scholarship for culinary students and wouldn’t you know, they get links from culinary arts programs like this one – https://www.escoffier.edu/admissions/scholarships/.
Think CK. This video company found their way to some .edu links like this one https://complit.washington.edu/internships-and-careers by offering a scholarship competition for students going into film and video programs.
Help get students jobs and internships
If you’re not picking up on the theme by now, offering useful things to college students makes you a good target for .edu links if you can pitch the right person. If your company is in a niche business or industry, you can nab links from .edu pages that cater to students in that industry. Many schools have specific career service pages for students in certain majors, and if your business aligns with such a school, you’re a prime link target.
PM Environmental. PM Environmental is an environmental consulting firm that was able to procure links from a number of .edu pages like this one – https://www.mitchelltech.edu/employer-resources/career-services/company-job-websites/tabs/engineering-technology – by putting together a career guide for college students wanting to get into environmental consulting.
Banfield Pet Hospital. If you’re genuinely in need of freshly graduated students to staff your business like Banfield, you can kill two birds with one stone (that seems inappropriate in this context, doesn’t it?). Find .edu career service sites in the veterinary medicine field and see if they’ll post a link to your company’s careers page like they did on this page: https://cvm.msu.edu/recruitment.
Provide a local service
This one is a no-brainer for the hospitality industry in particular. Colleges always have events where they invite alumni or family back to campus, but these people need places to sleep and eat. If you do a site:yourcollegesite.edu “hotels” search in Google you’ll likely find pages linking to local hotels, and the same would hold true for restaurants.
Wickwood Inn. A bed and breakfast near our Grand Rapids office used this tactic to realize that nearby Hope College linked to many other lodging options nearby, but not their site. They were able to contact the school and through a series of emails get listed on their page at http://www.hope.edu/visit/.
Stella’s Lounge. One of my favorite food joints in Grand Rapids also has a citation listed on my alma mater’s website – because they were smart enough to ask for a listing. https://www.gvsu.edu/pic/compass/restaurants-by-category-16.htm. This is still solid for local rankings, but it would be worth going back and asking the webmaster if they could turn that text URL into an active link to obtain the juice!
Driving Test Sample. Even if you’re not a local business, you can help people find local resources or assist them with local activities. This site provides practice driving tests for every state, and often times University students may still be seeking to gain a driver’s license. This helped earn links like this one from Bowling Green State University: https://www.bgsu.edu/womens-center/resources-and-services.html
Give students job specific training
The point of college, outside of partying and going into lifelong debt, of course, is to get a job. Not surprisingly, universities tend to link out to worthwhile job training resources, and so do a lot of primary education websites as well.
ASVAB Practice Test Online. This site provides some testing resources to help prepare people looking to enter the military. Considering many students go directly from high school to the military, this site has been able to pull links like this one: http://shsweb.stanwood.wednet.edu/index.php/counseling-mainmenu-145 and http://veterans.utk.edu/links-va-and-military-benefits/.
CNA Free Training and CNA Classes Near Me. These websites are designed to provide highly niched practice resources for someone looking to go into a career as a nursing assistant. Again, not surprisingly, the highly specific nature of this content lends itself well to educational sites focusing on similar medical and nursing pursuits. As such, this site has landed valuable links like this one from Clark University: http://www2.clarku.edu/departments/prehealth/exploring/additionallinks.cfm.
Provide something unique to a program
If you can find faculty in a given program and provide them with some unique value you’ll be armed with some ammunition to try to sell them a link on their personally managed pages.
IQ Test Prep. This site offers a quick and easy IQ test, something of interest to psychology departments around the country. Of course, that’s how they landed this link from a professor’s page from the University of Michigan: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~lpt/links.htm
While all of these various examples are unique, they should provide some food for thought in terms of how you can use your existing content, or expand your content in ways that will allow you to earn some extremely valuable .edu links.