As committed as you are to safe SEO, you still can’t argue with the value of backlinks. Even if backlinks aren’t your end game, it sure helps to have some mentions from high-authority .gov websites.
Backlinks and mentions still boost your SEO. For all of Google’s artificial intelligence advances, algorithm tweaks, and corporate restructuring, the reliable truth remains: Good links to your website make for good SEO.
The question people are always asking is, “How do we safely get links and mentions?”
Why is the answer always changing? Because the algorithm is always changing.
And now I’m going to ask an even tougher question: How can you safely get mentioned by .gov websites?
In the SEO world, .gov links are the Holy Grail. To gain a backlink or mention from a .gov website is like finding El Dorado, buried treasure, or the fountain of youth.
But still longed for and sought after? Definitely.
Why are mentions from .gov websites so prized?
There is an enduring belief in the SEO community that .gov links are the most valuable of all.
Why do SEOs believe this?
According to the theory, Google’s algorithm gives more weight to websites that have inherent or established “credibility” — educational institutions and government offices. These organizations are allegedly less likely to engage in opportunistic black hat SEO maneuvers.
Besides, not just anybody can waltz in and create a .gov website. Here’s how SEO Blog explains it:
The answer lies in the process of registering a .gov or .edu domain. You can’t just go to your local domain registrar and ask for your very own .gov. You need to provide a mess of paperwork proving that you’re a legitimate government organization. The same goes for .edu domains; you need to be a legitimate educational institution to qualify for a .edu domain. It’s the Internet’s way of preserving the authority of these domains, and their trust. Users turn to .gov and .edu sites for very specific, very important purposes. If the information found on those sites is incorrect, spammy or leads to scams, it can very easily bankrupt a family or lead to drastic consequences.
Therein lies the key to the puzzle. The “link juice” from a .gov or a .edu site is powerful because that site is a trusted authority.
Therefore, a mention from these websites to another website is given more weight and higher value.
Usually, too, .gov and .edu TLDs (top level domains) have a high authority ranking.
For example, using Moz’s Domain Authority ranking, compare the two numbers:
- gov — Domain Authority of 97
- Coca-Cola.com — Domain Authority of 87
Whitehouse.gov is a full ten points higher than one of the world’s most highly valued and recognized brands.
According to SEO theory, mentions from high authority websites bestow greater value on the websites to which they link.
Since most .gov websites have a higher authority, their backlinks are perceived to be more valuable.
But the proof is in the pudding, right?
I mean, all this theory is great, but what about websites that actually receive these highly coveted mentions? Does the receiving website experience a boost in ranking?
Apparently so. Many webmasters have reported that gaining a .gov backlink is equivalent to the ranking boost of ten high-quality .com mentions.
Even if you’re skeptical of the higher value of .gov mentions, you should be able to admit that a diversified backlink portfolio featuring a medley of TLDs and types of websites translates into a higher valued website.
Maybe .gov mentions aren’t rocket fuel for your rankings, but they can’t be bad now, can they?
Ok. Enough theory. Let’s dive into the how to, because that’s why you started reading this article to begin with, right?
4 Ideas for Gaining .Gov Mentions
True to form, I need to provide a few warnings up front:
- These mentions are not easy to get.
- These mentions can’t be simply “built” or “generated.” They have to be earned.
- Backlinks and mentions, no matter how valuable, should always be balanced with a healthy and hearty strategy of content marketing for full SEO value.
1. Become active in .gov forums.
The government hosts a variety of forums. These forums are designed to allow people to get help and insight on various topics.
For example, this forum on Information Technology is hosted on the website http://careers.state.gov/.
You can find a full index of government online forums at http://careers.state.gov/connect/forums.
If you have a business in a niche that is similar to these forums, you may be able to provide value by interacting on the forums.
The goal is not necessarily to immediately get a backlink through posting on these forums, but rather to provide value and gain recognition as a source of legitimate and trusted authority.
2. Create content on a relevant topic.
One worthy method of gaining a .gov mention is to make this effort part of your content marketing strategy.
Write some content about a government agency or on a governmental topic. Finding a niche topic that relates to a specific agency with a website is best.
Contact the appropriate government agency, inform them of your content, and politely request a mention or link to your content.
3. Comment on .gov websites.
A limited number of .gov websites allow for interaction by article comments.
Using a tool such as “Drop My Link,” you can find government TLDs that have commentable content.
For example, I performed a search for “comment backlinks” with .gov domains.
My results included these websites:
The first result is a website for the state government of Louisiana, allowing blog comments on the specific topic of state planning grants.
You are probably beginning to see the challenge of gaining .gov backlinks.
The likelihood of finding a commentable .gov website that is directly associated with your niche or industry is pretty low.
The further likelihood of gaining a valid dofollow backlink by posting a relevant comment is even lower.
Nonetheless, by persistent finding and commenting, you may begin to see some value from this method.
4. Provide your website as a listed resource.
Some government websites provide a list of other websites as “resources.”
If you can find such a page, it is a valid and even welcome way that .gov websites will mention yours.
A thorough explanation of using this technique is provided on my free Advanced Guide to SEO, but here’s the basic idea:
Use a special query to search Google: site:.gov [your keywords] + inurl:links
Here, I’m searching for .gov websites that contain the keyword “marketing” just for sake of example.
I decide to click on the government of Arkansas website.
The website includes a lot of links to external resources.
I find that some of these are commercial websites. This is a pretty good indication that they will link to commercial websites, as long as those websites are valid and relevant.
I’ll have to contact the agency in order to get listed as a resource. Thankfully, there’s a contact button that I see.
I contact their office to request that my website be listed as a resource.
There are very few legitimate methods for gaining .gov mentions, but these are some of them.
And don’t forget: This doesn’t only apply to U.S. .gov websites. .Gov sites from other countries are just as valuable.
Gaining a .gov mention is going to take a lot of effort, time, and attention. But who knows? It could really pay off in your overall SEO strategy.
What success have you had in gaining .gov mentions?