Matt Cuts once said: “Everybody thinks their website is above average”. I suffered from that delusional disorder as well; some of my articles were getting hundreds of social media shares!
In fact, I became so infatuated with my content that someday I wanted to get links from .gov sites to one of my content pieces. Yeah, I was that naive!
After hundreds of customized outreach emails and two (negative) replies, I finally understood that I won’t get a .gov link anytime soon. That was the moment when I started to chase .edu links, the second-best choice after those impossible to get .gov links.
I didn’t want to get links that I could build on my own, because their SEO value is zero. I didn’t want links from .edu pages that have thousands of spammy comments on them. And I didn’t want links from those weak .edu blogs that you could create on your own.
I wanted to earn my .edu links, because I knew that Google loves earned links. This article shows what I did to earn a valuable stanford.edu link, and what you can do to get one for your own site.
But first, here’s the stanford.edu page that includes my link.
That link points to an article which describes a useful website monitoring tool that we’ve built. You can read the article here.
Let’s see some of the benefits that have been brought by this link, according to Ahrefs.
First, I have noticed a huge, sudden Ahrefs Rank boost. Randombyte went from 10,250,793 to 2,435,571 in a single day! (smaller values are better). Take a look at the picture below to see this dramatic change.
What about keywords rankings improvements? Here are some of the results that I have noticed a few weeks after getting that link.
The biggest winners are two Google-related keywords, which have monthly search volumes of 11,000 and 12,000. The keywords weren’t even in top 100 a month ago, and now this site ranks #15 for both of them.
Several other keywords, which have hundreds of monthly searches, have gotten first page Google rankings.
Disclaimer: your results may be different. Website rankings and traffic can vary a lot, depending on site structure, other content marketing activities, Google’s algorithm changes, and so on.
What about referral traffic? The Stanford link has brought 81 people so far. That’s close to three website visitors per day, and that number continues to grow, even though it’s been about a month since the link was built. The backlink is placed at the top of the page, and this helps a lot.
The overall website traffic has doubled in comparison with the previous months.
The data shows clearly the potential effect of a strong, “real” .edu link. So, how can you get one of these juicy backlinks for your own site?
Everything starts with having a very valuable resource. You may have read about creating painfully detailed guides around your targeted topics/keywords. The sad truth is that most webmasters won’t be too inclined to promote that type of content, though. Sure, if they see a great guide, they may bookmark it, but they won’t link to it.
A better idea is to create a useful software application, because it has a much higher perceived value. And if you find webmasters who have created resource pages which include tools like yours, the response rate will be huge!
Your app doesn’t have to be very complex, but it must be polished and fully functional. I understand that you may not be a programmer, but it is easy to hire one. Head over to Upwork, and you will have access to thousands of the world’s best programmers, at affordable rates.
Choose to build a tool that is related to your industry and is very useful. To get ideas, examine the best paid industry applications, and then create a 100% free tool that has a much smaller set of features.
An example: if you work in the graphics design industry, use Adobe Photoshop as your paid tool reference, and then build a free tool that is similar with Microsoft Paint. I guarantee that you will have lots of link building opportunities!
Once that your tool is ready, it’s time to start the outreach process. Here’s the email I’ve sent to get that precious link.
The webmaster was very prompt; the link to my tool was added in less than two days. It is much easier to get backlinks if the webmasters encourage people to submit their apps.
But how do we discover these fantastic opportunities? Here are several search strings that can be typed straight into Google or (my favorite method) input into Scrapebox.
“niche links” site:edu
inurl:niche links site:edu
intitle “niche links” site:edu
“niche tools” site:edu
inurl:niche tools site:edu
intitle “niche tools” site:edu
“niche” + inurl:links site:edu
“niche resources” site:edu
“niche” + inurl:resources site:edu
“niche” + “useful resources” site:edu
“niche” + “other resources” site:edu
“niche” + “resources” site:edu
“niche” + “helpful links” site:edu
“niche” + “helpful resources” site:edu
“niche” + “resource” + “email” site:edu
“niche” + “resources” + “contact me” site:edu
Don’t forget to replace “niche” with your targeted keyword.
Here’s an example that shows the first search results page using the following search string:
intitle:”network monitoring” site:edu
Doing research in Scrapebox is much faster, of course. I have gathered a list of 555 potential sites in less than a minute.
As you can imagine, there are many powerful link building opportunities in this list of URLs. I chose to get a single .edu link for this case study, though.
Obviously, if you have built a useful tool, you shouldn’t limit your searches to .edu domains. There are lots of powerful non-edu domains out there, and their SEO value is massive.
Simply remove the “site:edu” part at the end of each search string to get access to all the domains. In my case, the search string below has returned more than 1,000 unique link building opportunities.
Don’t forget to use all the search strings above. Then, remove the duplicate URLs in Excel. I promise that you won’t run out of potential link building candidates in the near future.
An old Chinese proverb says: “be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still”. So, code a small application or pay a developer to build an app that will make people’s lives easier, and then show it to the world.
It’s taken my developer about 5-6 hours to finish the tool, and it has taken me less than an hour to discover the stanford.edu link opportunity and send my personalized email. I am confident that if you follow my steps, you can replicate my success.