Link Building

Using Educational Linkbait to Get Valuable .edu Links

April 13, 2011 Posted In: Link Building Comments: 10

Kellogg’s Cereal has space-themed nutrition lessons in downloadable PDF files. Orkin Pest Control has a virtual insect designed to offer an alternative to classroom dissection. Ben and Jerry’s has interactive games about the environment. Big companies have, for years, been putting educational materials online and getting benefits in the form of coveted .edu links and serendipitous traffic.

Smaller sites can do the same. They usually don’t, but the benefits can be significant. High-quality sites that would never link to your commercial website’s homepage will link to your educational page. You can also list your educational page in high-value places like Google groups for educators or Teacher’s Sourcebook – as long as you’ve got actual educational materials.

The first step is to identify the teachable aspect of what you do. Sometimes it’s obvious: a solar energy company can have lessons on solar energy and a pet store can have lessons on pet care. Sometimes, though, you have to think outside the box.

We made an environmental education lesson for an electronic payment company, because paying your bills electronically saves paper.

Educational Link Bait

For a web firm, we went with a classroom technology lesson plan. A rock band with a song about snow got a lesson on the science and math of snowflakes. Chances are good that there is something about your business that hooks up with what gets taught in schools.

One place to look for that connection is in the McREL database. The Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory has a collection of classroom standards that is used nationwide, and you can search the database with your keywords and see what comes up. Once you find the point of connection, you’ll have the right terminology for your educational materials (for example, a jeweler should write about gemstones, not jewels) and the right to say that your materials are “standards-based.”

Make the effort to match your materials to the format teachers are used to, and you’ll look like an insider – a plus when you request links. The example below shows the standard format: objectives (get those from McREL), materials, and procedures.

.EDU Links

Go easy on the commercial connections; your educational materials should have their own page and your company should be listed as the “sponsor” or have a logo on the page, not anything obviously sales-oriented.

If possible, have someone try the lesson out with some actual kids. If the lesson really works, you’ll have the benefit of the teacher community’s habit of sharing. You know how fast a virus goes through schools? It’s the same with a viral web page. We had 25,000 visits at our Bunsen Burner Day lesson plan on March 30th and 31st this year – far more than the site normally sees.

Then it’s time to request links. Use the keyword for your educational materials page plus terms like “lesson plan,” “worksheet,” and “classroom theme” to identify the sites to ask for links. “We believe that our lesson on gemstones will be of value to the educators who visit your site,” you can say. Give a snippet of code with anchor text that includes your preferred keyword or even the name of your company for the sake of citations.

Don’t skip home school sites, either. These are frequented by parents, and can sometimes offer you a more varied audience than sites that caters to teachers. Traffic isn’t the main goal for this strategy – you really want those high-value links – but you never know who might want to buy what you’re selling.

Rebecca Hadenby Rebecca Haden, the owner of Haden Interactive, a content-focused web firm serving clients on four continents. She has been writing for the web since the 20th century, and has been an SEO copywriter since 2007. Rebecca's degrees are in linguistics: B.A. from the University of California San Diego and M.A. from San Diego State University. She lives in Fayetteville, AR, with her husband, kids, and dogs. She also operates an educational site, FreshPlans, and teaches college writing classes in her spare time.

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Wednesday April 13, 2011

Richard Kraneis (not verified) Said:

Thanks Rebecca, Thanks WordStream Internet serendipity again. Rebecca's article raised my awareness of educational linkbait. And then I began my own serendipitous journey. 1) Read WordStream blog. 2) Briefly researched Rebecca's blogs and the McRel database. 3) Realized McRel couldn't immediately help my website but the phrase "lesson plans" stuck in my mind. 4) Searched Google for "GED lesson plans" and found a goldmine of useful articles on the Internet. So after reading Rebecca Haden's article today I am much better informed regarding educational linkbaiting and regarding an interest of mine: high school dropouts and GED training. Thanks everyone.

Wednesday April 13, 2011

Linda (not verified) Said:

Hi Rebecca, That was a really great post. I would love to read a post dealing with how to ask for links. I'm sure this type of subject matter is in demand as well. I will be periodically coming by to read blogs here. May Success Always Be With You. -

Thursday April 14, 2011

Novel Writing Software (not verified) Said:

Hi, Thank you bringing this up..Its going to be a tough job matching works from those someone who is really are made for it..but then again its worth the time and hopefully it'll return great on our part...

Thursday April 14, 2011

Rebecca Haden (not verified) Said:

Hi, Linda! I've written about asking for links over at my own blog: Ken Lyons has written about the subject here at WordStream, too: It's definitely a skill worth developing.

Thursday April 14, 2011

Rebecca Haden (not verified) Said:

Hi, Richard -- glad it was useful!

Saturday April 16, 2011 (not verified) Said:

Rebecca, I never thought of specifically targeting .edu backlinks by using linkbait but from a SEO perspective, it makes complete sense. Agree on your point about going easy on the commercial connections - def about keeping it real. Eye-opening post for me :) Cheers, Jon

Tuesday May 24, 2011

79 Link Building Resources - 2011 Edition (not verified) Said:

[...] Using Educational Linkbait to Get Valuable .Edu Links [...]

Saturday June 04, 2011

Fish Finder Guy (not verified) Said:

I read somewhere recently (I think it was in a forum) about a method used to get high quality .edu and .gov links by posting in Asian .edu and .gov forums in English but i thought it was sailing so close to the wind of spamming, I didn't bother trying it. It's rather ironic that I only found Ken's post on getting links using the dog toy example yesterday after finding it tucked away in my favorites for nearly a year and find all the "wordstream" stuff I've read here today to be fascinating. Great stuff and I've just touched the tip of the iceberg.

Friday July 22, 2011

Rob at chicken coop plans (not verified) Said:

what a great method of aquiring .edu links. Up to now the only suggestions I have come across were to find .edu sites that allow comments. However they are always spammed with rubbish and then usually close down the comment forms and your backlink is lost. I will definately utilise this method, more work but worth it. Thanks Rob

Wednesday September 18, 2013

Don (not verified) Said:

I think this approach would be considered viral.  I like viral approaches to link building that are a great resource to the public too.

Don F ~
La Jolla Bluebook

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