So, you’ve heard that .gov links can improve your SEO and organic traffic. But what makes them so valuable… and how do you actually build them?
We’ll answer these and other common questions about .gov link building based on our almost decade-long experience in the industry. Let’s dive in.
.gov links are links coming from sites on a .gov domain.
.gov domains are reserved for websites owned and run by federal, state, or local government agencies, such as the FBI, Department of Justice, or the IRS.
This should already give you some clues as to why .gov backlinks are so valuable. But let us quickly unpack that for you.
According to the official DotGov website, the .gov domain is reserved for U.S.-based government and public sector organizations and isn’t available to the general public.
To register their websites on the .gov domain, organizations go through grueling processes which include attesting their eligibility through letters “signed by authorizing authority,” providing supporting documentation, and supplying additional records if needed.
Search engines like such strict eligibility requirements and verification processes, as they help ensure that websites are run by credible entities. That’s why they consider .gov websites – and .gov backlinks – more credible than websites on most other domains. Consequently, .gov backlinks are given more weight than average backlinks.
.gov sites are typically not open to linking to other, non-.gov sites. In fact, acquiring even a single .gov backlink can be out of reach for most “average” site owners with no government ties.
Search engines know this, which is why they place a lot of trust in .gov backlinks. The sites they’re pointing to are almost automatically deemed as credible and authoritative, precisely because obtaining gov. backlinks isn’t an easy feat — as opposed to, say, getting links from link farms or PBNs.
Finally, government sites and .gov backlinks are extremely trustworthy. This is due to the reasons mentioned above, as well as the fact that the content published on .gov sites often has to be approved by a number of reviewers and supervisors before seeing the light of day.
This lowers the chances of .gov backlinks being purely commercial or having no real value for users and makes them more credible.
Although all .gov backlinks are valuable, some hold more weight than others. Their value – and impact on search engine optimization (SEO) – typically depends on organizations or agencies managing the sites they’re coming from.
In that regard, you should distinguish between three types of .gov backlinks and sites:
With that in mind, we can easily conclude that backlinks coming from federal .gov sites have the most value.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn't try to build links on state or local .gov sites. They're still more valuable than links from “average” sites, a well as easier to obtain than links from federal .gov sites.
Still, you should keep these differences in mind and calibrate your expectations accordingly.
The first step towards building .gov backlinks is actually finding .gov websites to build them on. We’ll show you four lesser-known methods you can use for this purpose.
The Google method allows you to knock out two tasks in one go:
✓ Find .gov sites
✓ Ensure they’re related to your industry
Let us walk you through how it works step-by-step.
You can start by entering the following query string into Google:
This query will allow you to find only sites with .gov domains via Google.
You can further add your target keywords to your query string in order to find .gov sites that are related to your industry:
Here’s an example of how this string works in action:
The drawback of this method is that it requires you to manually go through different results to determine if a .gov site would be open to linking to you. This could include analyzing each individual site to check if it links to non-government sites or, better yet, other websites in your industry.
This process can be very time-consuming, especially if you want to find more than one good link-building opportunity. If you want to accelerate the process, try method #2.
Alternatively, you can check your competitors’ backlink profiles to determine whether they have any .gov backlinks you could “steal.”
You can do this using backlink checker tools like Ahrefs. Simply copy your competitor’s URL and run it through the tool to see their backlink profile:
The purpose of this strategy is to find easy link-building opportunities, i.e., .gov sites that have already demonstrated interest in your industry.
A potential disadvantage of this method is that it may not help you uncover as many link-building opportunities as you’d like. This depends on how many .gov backlinks your competitors have. It may be the case that they had no luck landing .gov backlinks themselves, so their backlink profiles won’t help you unearth new .gov sites you could target.
If that’s the case, don’t worry – you can always try a different method. Let’s see how method #3 works.
This method is probably the easiest out of the four. It involves browsing through directories of government agencies in order to identify government websites:
One disadvantage of this method is the possibility that the directories are not regularly updated. It can also require you to browse through long lists of websites only to find a handful of sites that would be a good fit for you.
We wrote an entire article about how ChatGPT can be used for link building. But, in case you missed it, here’s a quick rundown on what it is and how it works:
That brings us to our main point. You can use ChatGPT to find government websites or, at least, get acquainted with different government agencies that you may want to reach out to later.
All you have to do is ask ChatGPT the right questions or give it appropriate commands, such as “list some well-known government agencies in the US:”
Just like other methods we’ve mentioned, the ChatGPT method has its disadvantages, too. The main one is that ChatGPT can sometimes generate inaccurate and downright false responses. For example, it can make up a local government agency that doesn’t factually exist.
To counteract this, always double-check ChatGPT’s suggestions before creating your strategy around them.
Links from any .gov site can benefit your site. However, some will benefit you more th
Now that you know why .gov backlinks are so valuable and how to find the right .gov sites to host your links, it’s time to see how you can actually build them.
We’ll reveal 7 .gov link-building tactics that we use ourselves when building links for clients. Let’s dive in.
Government agencies are always looking for ways to get their message out. If you can write a compelling article that showcases their work, they'll probably be happy to link back to your website.
Here’s how to get started with this tactic:
Just like agencies, government officials like free publicity and exposure, as well as showing themselves in a positive light.
You can leverage this to build backlinks to your site by interviewing officials and publishing your interviews online – in a form of a blog post, podcast, or something else. You choose.
Follow these steps to get started with this method:
Even if this strategy doesn’t immediately get you .gov backlinks, it can help you create strong ties with insiders and build new links in the future.
Broken or dead links are links that usually lead to 404 pages, indicating that the target page is no longer available or doesn’t exist.
More rarely, broken links may also return errors like 400 Bad Request, Timeout, or Bad Code.
Either way, no site owner wants to send their audience to unavailable or non-existent pages — government agencies included. That’s why they may be interested in replacing existing broken links with links to your site.
Here’s a step-by-step on how to replace broken links on .gov sites with yours:
This is a win-win strategy for both sides. You can get valuable .gov backlinks, while government websites get working links.
Writing about a relevant social issue or cause can be an effective way to attract attention and get backlinks from .gov domains. This approach works particularly well if you can tie your content to a specific government agency or program related to the issue or cause.
Resource pages are pages that provide links to useful resources related to a specific topic or industry. Getting listed on one of these pages can be an easy way to build .gov backlinks.
Here’s how to do it in three steps:
Partnering with a government agency is another effective way to get .gov backlinks. This approach involves working closely with a government agency to create content or provide resources that benefit their audience. In exchange, the agency may be willing to feature your brand or website on its website, social media channels, or other digital properties.
Once you decide what type of partner project you want to offer, consider what resources you can bring to the partnership. This could include content creation capabilities, access to a particular audience, or funding for events or initiatives.
Finally, the most traditional tactic of them all: writing guest posts.
Guest posts are posts written for the purpose of getting them published on someone else’s sites – in this case, .gov sites. When used for link-building purposes, guest posts will contain naturally-placed links to authors’ websites.
Here’s how to use this tactic:
The chances of .gov websites being fake are slim, as organizations typically have to undergo grueling application processes to register their sites on the .gov domain.
The content published on .gov websites is typically reviewed and approved by government officials or subject matter experts before it is published. However, the term "peer-reviewed" typically refers to academic research that has undergone rigorous review by other experts in the field, which may not apply to all content published on .gov sites.
Real talk: you can take all the right steps, offer great partnerships, and write flattering posts all day, but there’s no guarantee that any government site will actually link to you.
As discussed, .gov backlinks are notoriously hard to obtain, so there’s always a chance that your hard work will ultimately be for nothing.
Fortunately, there is a surefire way to get the .gov backlinks you want – by working with agencies that can guarantee you .gov placements in advance. That’s us!
Want a sneak peek of our list of partner sites and available .gov backlinks? Schedule your free consultation today, and decide if you want to work with us later.
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