EDU Link Building

Are .edu Backlinks Good? The Honest Answer

“Build .edu backlinks!” — It seems like every SEO is shouting the same thing at you. But what they don’t tell you is what results to expect and how much effort building .edu links will take.

We’ve helped clients land placements on .edu sites like Yale and NYU. So, take it from us: building .edu links is no easy feat.

Before embarking on an .edu link-building campaign, you want to be sure that  .edu links will help you reach your goals.

So, here’s our honest take on whether .edu backlinks are worth your investment and why. Let’s dive in.

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Are .edu Backlinks Any Good?

In terms of link juice, .edu backlinks are good. That’s because most links from .edu domains are considered high-quality.

Simply put, search engines prefer .edu backlinks over links from less trustworthy domains. So, .edu links could contribute to your site’s SEO more than most other links.

That means .edu backlinks should boost your:

  • rankings
  • search visibility
  • organic and referral traffic

more so than sites with regular domains.

Of course, that doesn’t mean all sites with an .edu extension are high-quality by default. It’s just that the majority of them are. The next section will help you understand what makes them superior, plus how you can differentiate between lower- and higher-quality .edu sites.

5 Reasons Why Search Engines Prefer .edu Backlinks

Let’s work back a few steps. I’ll walk you through the five reasons why search engines give .edu links an advantage over average links.

1) .edu Sites Have High Domain Authority

In the past, many people tried to manipulate the search results in their favor with backlinks from low-quality, spammy websites. But it didn’t take long for Google and other search engines to discover the scheme.

So, today, low-quality backlinks have little to no effect on how sites rank. In fact, spammy links can even hurt the sites they’re pointing to.

That’s why backlinks from authoritative websites are worth more.

And most .edu sites have high domain authority. You can check this metric using a tool like Moz Link Explorer:

Report on NYU's domain authority (91), linking domains (231.1k), inbound links (36.8m) and ranking keywords (457k)

(Source: Moz Link Explorer)

I used NYU’s website ( as an example. You can see that it has a domain authority of 91, which is considered very high. For reference, domain authority between 40 and 50 is considered average.

Of course, that doesn’t mean all .edu sites have such high domain authority. After all, NYU is a very well-known university worldwide. So, it makes sense that its website has higher domain authority than those owned by less prestigious institutions.

But you can expect most .edu sites to have at least above-average authority. Take Bringham Young University as an example:

Report on BYUI's domain authority (67), linking domains (23.2k), inbound links (1.4m) and ranking keywords (60.1k)

(Source: Moz Link Explorer)

Clearly, you can profit from .edu backlinks even if they’re coming from sites owned by lesser-known organizations.

2) .edu Sites Have A Strong Backlink Profile

The rule of thumb is that the more backlinks you have, the better you’ll rank. But that’s not 100% accurate. The thing is, the quantity of your links isn’t the only thing that matters. Quality matters, too, if not more.

But how do you know if a backlink is high-quality?

Well, high-quality backlinks fit two criteria:

  • They’re coming from authoritative sites — Sites with high DA.
  • They’re dofollow — Only dofollow links can pass authority on other websites. In contrast, nofollow links don’t affect other sites’ authority and don’t help them rank.

Fortunately, most .edu sites have links that fit both criteria. And they usually have many of them.

To demonstrate this, let’s check Yale’s ( backlink profile using SEO SpyGlass:

Yale's backlink profile shows the website has over 29 million backlinks, 93.1% of which are dofollow

(Source: SEO SpyGlass)

I’ll draw your attention to two key facts:

  • Yale has over 29 million backlinks.
  • 93.1% (~27,308,680) of those backlinks are dofollow.

Considering that Yale has over 27 million dofollow links, we can already assume it has a strong backlink profile. But we still need to check if those links are high-quality.

To do so, I’ll scroll down to the full report:

Report showing sites and pages that are linking to Yale's website

Here, we can see many high-quality sites linking to Yale, and some of them even have an .edu extension. So, we can conclude that Yale indeed has a strong backlink profile.

But let’s talk about why that matters for you.

In a nutshell, Google deems sites with strong backlinks more trustworthy. That makes their own links to other sites more powerful.

So, if you can get an .edu site to link to you, you can gain more authority than you’d get from an average link. And that’s a huge plus for your rankings.

3) .edu Sites Are High-Quality

Think about how many .com websites you know.

Probably a lot, right? That’s because everyone can get a .com site.

Now consider how many .edu websites you know. Probably not as many, and there’s a good reason why.

Not everyone can get an .edu site. In fact, .edu domain names can only be registered by U.S.-based postsecondary institutions. That’s why .edu domains are considered more legitimate than domains available to anyone and everyone.

On top of that, most .edu sites publish premium content, such as research papers and reports, which further increases their authority and link juice.

4) .edu Backlinks Are Trustworthy

There’s nothing search engines dislike more than spammy link-building tactics. That’s why they punish sites that engage in link schemes and reward those that don’t.

When search engines discover sites that are selling links, they can penalize or deindex them. Either way, links from such sites become ineffective or can even hurt the sites they’re pointing to.

But education sites aren’t exactly known for engaging in link schemes. Quite the contrary. That’s one more reason why Google trusts .edu sites and their links.

5) .edu Backlinks Are Hard To Get

.edu sites can be picky about who they link to, which makes their links that much more valuable. But the obvious drawback to this is that getting .edu links won’t be easy for you, either. Landing just one .edu backlink can take you months of trial and error.

Our article on the seven best strategies to get .edu links can help you speed up the process. I highly suggest you check it out.

Why Should You Care About Backlink Quality?

I’ve mentioned bits about this throughout the article, but let’s sum up why backlink quality matters:

  • Low-quality links don’t contribute to other sites’ SEO — Only high-quality links can truly move the needle, especially if you’re in a competitive niche. Low-quality links simply won’t do nearly as much for your rankings or organic traffic.
  • Low-quality links drive low-quality traffic — Backlinks don’t only drive organic but also referral traffic. If yours are placed on scammy or otherwise low-quality sites, you can’t expect they’ll attract premium visitors.
  • Toxic links can actually harm other sites — Think of toxic links as links of extremely poor quality. They’re often associated with black hat link-building tactics that can get your site penalized. The best way to avoid them is to place your links only on reputable sites, like .edu sites.

All things considered, you shouldn’t bother with acquiring links from low-quality sites. Your time would be better spent on building high-quality backlinks that can actually help you move up on the SERPs.

And toxic backlinks can even hurt your site. So, let me show you how you can recognize and avoid them.

Examples of Toxic Backlinks

Here are the two most common types of “toxic links”:

  • PBNs — PBNs are links from private blog networks, i.e., networks owned by a single person or company.
  • Mass-generated backlinks — These are usually computer-generated spammy backlinks in other languages.

You definitely shouldn’t seek out such links yourself, no matter what the sellers are telling you. In fact, you should disavow toxic links asap if you already have some pointing to your site. Otherwise, Google may penalize you even if you weren’t aware of those links.

Of course, keep in mind that not all low-quality backlinks are toxic.

When SEOs talk about low-quality backlinks, they’re mainly referring to links from social media or low-authority sites. Such links won’t help you rank, which is why they’re considered low-quality, but won’t harm your site either — so, they’re not toxic.

3 Reasons Why You May Not Want .edu Backlinks

Most site owners should focus on .edu backlinks as part of their link-building strategy. But there are some cons to getting .edu links that you may want to consider in advance.

1) You Need Resources To Build .edu Backlinks

As I’ve mentioned, building .edu backlinks can be difficult. That’s why most site owners have comprehensive, thought-out strategies for getting them. Here are the two most popular ones:

  • Creating linkable assets — This strategy is about creating valuable content for your target audience. For example, you could create a long-form blog post about student loans or a downloadable e-book with study tips.
  • Offering special services — This strategy is mainly used by local businesses. They’ll offer discounts to students and staff so that they get listed on .edu resource pages. But businesses that aren’t local can use this strategy, too. Some go as far as offering scholarships in exchange for a single .edu backlink.

Unfortunately, both strategies take a lot of money and time. Even a simple task like finding suitable “local resources” pages could take more time than most site owners can afford.

On top of that, you need some serious know-how to build links, especially if you’re trying to build them on .edu sites. And the chances are that building links isn’t your area of genius.

But the good news is you can always hire a link-building agency to help you. Just make sure to consider that while assessing your finances. If you find link-building services to be outside your budget, you may want to reconsider getting .edu links.

2) .edu Backlinks Don’t Guarantee Higher Rankings

Search engine optimization involves more than building backlinks. Things like quality content, page speed, and mobile-friendliness influence your SEO, too. That’s why no backlink can guarantee higher rankings.

Just think about it.

Would it make sense for you to rank if you had poor content but high-quality backlinks? Or if your site took ages to load?

Not really. And Google thinks so too, which is why it uses other signals besides backlinks to determine your position on the SERPs.

Also, I’ll mention that Google never officially stated that .edu backlinks fare better than other links.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Google may just want to keep its secrets hidden. Many independent case studies have found .edu links to have a stronger impact on SEO than average links.

Still, it’s something to keep in mind so you can set the right expectations for your links.

3) Some .edu Sites Are Lower-Quality Than Others

Not all .edu sites are owned by prestigious organizations, and some have lower domain authority than others.

So, not all .edu links are equal. Those that are lower-quality won’t yield the drastic results you may be looking for.

With that said, you can always choose where you’ll place your links. No one’s forcing you to get a placement on a low-quality site.

Simply rule out sites with low domain authority or crappy backlink profiles and focus on high-quality sites instead.


What are .edu backlinks in SEO?

.edu backlinks are links from sites with an .edu extension to other websites. For example, a link from Yale’s website ( to ours would be an .edu backlink.

How do I get .edu backlinks?

You can get .edu backlinks by using link-building strategies such as broken link building, scholarship link building, and content marketing. Learn more about .edu link-building strategies.

Can you have too many backlinks?

Generally, you can’t have too many backlinks. The more backlinks you have, the higher you’ll rank. But you can have too many of the so-called toxic links. Having even one can be one too many since it may hurt your rankings and visibility. Disavow toxic links as soon as you identify them.

So, Should You Focus On Building .edu Backlinks?

.edu links can, or at least should, strengthen your backlink profile more quickly than average links. That’s good for your visibility, traffic, and conversions.

But the problem is that building a strong backlink profile takes a consistent, strategic approach.

Think of it this way. Everyone can get lucky by landing one high-quality placement. That’s precisely why one link won’t make that much of a difference.

You’ll need to build more links over time to increase — and retain! — your authority and rankings.

If that’s more work than you can handle on your own, our outreach specialists can help. During the past 8 years, we’ve built numerous links on prestigious .edu sites like Yale and NYU. We can do the same for you! Reach out today to find out how.

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Written by
Dina Šoštarec

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