Getting .edu and .gov backlinks the whitehat, dofollow, non-spammy way

Lately, I’ve been noticing posts and commercial offers for developing backlinks from .edu and .gov sites.

A great way of getting higher ranking for your website is to get backlinks from .edu and .gov websites. Google is quite fond of high quality backlinks to help determine the probable value of a website.

There’s a “grayhat” trick going around wherein you can get a previously set up blog on a .edu website so that you can write a few posts and then put in a link to your own website or sites to give yourself backlinks from a .edu domain. You buy the access to blogs from vendors who’ve found a way to set them up without being students, admins, faculty or other authorized staff. They create phony blogs which have the sole purpose of being a backlink source that they can sell to internet marketers. I doubt that reputable schools are going to be happy about being used that way. And I doubt that Google is going to be happy with the sites that got those backlinks with a trick.

It’s not necessary to pull a trick. If you want to get .edu and .gov backlinks, find blogs on education or government sites that allow commenting and will let you link to your site from your comment with “dofollow” links. Blogs that are relevant to your own work and content or have posts that you can legitimately tie in to your own site’s content.

Then, write good comments that add value to the posts you are commenting on. Comments will doubtlessly be monitored, so be clear about how your comments help the author or other commenters. It isn’t difficult to get your comments published. Most blogs revel in getting good comments.

To find good places to post comments, simply use a search like this:

site:edu inurl:blog “leave a comment” + the keyword(s) for your content.

You may have seen this search code elsewhere in a different, longer form. I find that this version often does a better job for me. For example, some folks say to use -“comments closed” and/or -“must be logged in” to exclude blogs that are unsuitable. However, there may be multiple blogs on an edu site, only some of which contain the excluding phrases. You may miss a lot of good blogs just because the site itself has those phrases but they don’t apply to all the blogs on the site. I have run the search both ways and found blogs that I missed when using the excluding phrases. Try it both ways.

You can also search for a particular school, for example; “site:harvard.edu.” It works especially well if you are an alum of the school you search. Being able to mention your connection to a school might help get your comments published if there is a lot of competition for commenting.

The same process works with .gov sites. For example, there are many congresspeople who have blogs and want to hear from you, whether or not you’re a constituent. Their blogs gain authority by have lots of comments, just as your own blog does.

Remember that you can get links from .edu sites in other countries, so look for the relevant domain designations such as ac.uk (for academic institutions in the U.K.) or edu.au (academic institutions in Australia.)

By all means, go get .edu and .gov backlinks. They can help tremendously with your ranking. But do it without trickery. Trickery often backfires.

Three things to learn from a WikiHow prank

I just had an interesting experience. I was doing a quick scan of my iGoogle page for news and a WikiHow article caught my eye. It was “How To Save A Choking Cat.” Now, I don’t have a cat, but I have several cat-loving friends and thought I’d take a moment to pass on the info.

When I looked at the article, I was surprised. It looked legit from the intro paragraph, but there was only one step: “Break it’s neck.”

It was immediately obvious that someone was playing a prank. It’s easy to do with user-edited content as in wikis.

The event brings out three important points:

1. This is an example of why legislation like SOPA and PIPA could kill great sites.


Just think about wikis and about comment area in blogs. If someone wants to get a site in trouble, he can make edits in a wiki or make a comment in a blog that contains copyrighted or banned material. Then he can report that material to the newly legislated “powers that be.” The site can be blacklisted before you can say “due process.”

User contributed material, when done honestly, is a great boon to society. And pranks like this are more than merely annoying.

2. Contact information is critical.


My first thought after “this is a prank” was “how do I report this.” It took more time than I wanted to spend, and the best thing I could do was find the comments section.

Apparently, a number of other readers were commenting, and someone who knew how to remedy the situation did so. It was cleared up in about ten minutes after I first noticed it.

However, until I decided to write this post, I still didn’t know how to contact the right person. I have found out. It only took me another five minutes to find the correct “about” page for WikiHow (there are at least 2) and then read the directions on how to make contact with the article’s primary author. It isn’t easy or intuitive.

What it made me realize is that I need to make my contact details more prominent. I have an “about” page with my contact info on it and I have it referenced on my home page under “Contact.” But folks have to look for it. Furthermore, I have no contact information other than “comments” on my blog.

Most good sites have contact details featured on every page. I can’t re-do every page instantly, but I’m going to make it easier.

3. There are plenty of nasty folks that have fun hurting you, but there are plenty of others who, given the chance, will help.


In the comments on the cat article, there were a mixture of complaints, confusion, concern, explanations, suggestions to help and some action. Some folks wanted to help but didn’t know how and one knowledgable person just went in and made an edit to restore it.

If you’re a web publisher or blogger, you’ve noticed that you are constantly fighting spam in email and in comments. Additionally, there are the people who write in and say hurtful things, to you or to other commenters. Most people read your posts and get your knowledge and information, but don’t bother to comment, leaving you wondering if you are actually reaching anyone. People hack your servers. Spoof your email address. Play all kinds of pranks. I could go on and on about the stuff I’ve seen happen (or heard about) to website owners and publishers.

Remember this. The reason that statistics show a bell-shaped curve in measuring human behavior is that behavior in any category always “averages out” in the long run. There are as many very good behaviors as very bad. Most people are in the middle — they aren’t all that interested in hurting or helping you. They’re just interested in themselves, and when they show up on your site, they’ll be happy to use what you offer without any show of appreciation.

But, at the top end of the scale, there are others, millions of others, who will say “thanks,” “good job,” or best of all “yes, I’ll pay you for that.” There are more than enough folks who will help you and empathize with you. In the long run, it will make up for the nasties, the pranksters and the great, average “who-are-you-I-don’t-care-and-what-have-you-done-for-me-in-the-last-five-minutes” folks.

You’ve met all of these face to face since kindergarten. Don’t be surprised when they all show up on your website, in forums or in “comments” sections.

Publishing Syndicated Content Is A Long-Time Honored and Honest Practice

Today I read another of the many critical articles that condemn those of us whose website content is not 100% unique to us. Most seem to think we should be banned from search engine listings forever. Every time I see one of those scathing rants, I scratch my head, completely bewildered by the logic.

Publishers don’t write everything they publish. In fact, most publishers don’t write anything they publish. They publish other people’s work. Shall we ban all books that were not self-published?

Newspapers have in-house writers and also publish syndicated content. Most of the content is a duplicate of what every other newspaper is publishing. If every newspaper had to generate unique news stories, we’d surely get a very limited selection of news. And, without syndication and duplication, how would we get the comics — and the New York Times crossword puzzles to drive us crazy?

More often than anything else, web publishers are attacked for publishing articles from article syndication sites like ezinearticles.com and ideamarketers.com. Yet the whole idea of such sites is to make it possible for bloggers and other writers to get publicity and backlinks to build traffic to their own sites. It is a tried-and-true method of getting known and followed. Especially when first starting a site or blog.

Like me, a great number of webmasters who write their own material, and have garnered a reasonable amount of traffic, find that other writers send material to us for publication. It helps both sides. The publisher gets more content for his/her readers and the writer gets better known. And other publishers like me realize that rather than wait for writers to send us content, we can find relevant material on syndication sites.

We do it because we want to provide our readers with as much good, relevant content as possible. More than we have time to write ourselves. Content that gives more than our own limited perspectives. Content that adds value to our readers lives.

I can’t speak for what other honest publishers like me have in mind when they publish other writers. But I can tell you what I’m trying to do.

First, I believe that there is a great deal that I know about developing high performance and productivity. I can write about it myself and do so. But I have the knowledge and expertise to also recognize good information that other people have written. Things that I might write if I had the time. Things that I might have written differently, but not as effectively. Things that interest and delight me that I’m happy to share.

I get an extra boost for my site by sharing them directly rather that by simply publishing a link. I deserve the boost. It’s hard work to constantly search through the bad articles out there and find some solid stuff that helps my reader. I spent a lot of years acquiring the expertise to recognize other people’s work that would help my readers. (Remember the Ph.D. after my name? I doesn’t stand for fuddy-duddy.)

When I read articles that I think about publishing for others, I don’t just read the article. I go to the website. I see what the author is offering. There are articles too numerous to count that I will never publish because the authors have websites that are all about selling, selling, selling low-value or obnoxious products. I’m very selective about whom I publish. I want the articles and the authors I publish to reflect well on me.

Furthermore, when I started accepting articles from other authors, I was happy to have the opportunity to help others who were newer to the scene than I. I’ve never stopped making that a consideration. Not only do I publish others, I also take the time to boost their websites when I can.

In addition to the added value on my site of having a psychologist preview articles for you, you find a summary of the article on the front page of my site, along with a label telling you its category. I have a list, with the summaries, for an entire month after I publish the article. So, you can pick and chose from more than a mere title.

You also will find that I’ll often write a blog post elaborating on the content of the article from my own perspective, or expanding a section of the article into a different article of my own. So, more unique content from me at the same time I’m publishing another author’s content. (BTW — all my blog posts are my own writing.)

I’m not alone. Plenty of webmasters who use other people’s content do it in similar ways and for similar reasons. We are honestly serving our readers what we believe is the best content we can produce or find.

We’re tired of being tarred with the same brush that limns the content scrapers, publishers of worthless “spun” articles and spammers.

(Temporary end of rant. Reserve option to continue at later time.)