Posted January 18, 2010 12:42 pm by with 23 comments

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This video Q&A from Matt Cutts didn’t really reveal anything new about how Google treats links–Google doesn’t follow nofollowed links and that’s the story it’s sticking to. 😉

What did catch my attention was the reference to the weight carried by .edu and .gov links. Matt pretty much debunks any suggestion that a link from an edu/gov TLD carries more weight than a .com one:

I’m sure some of you will debate the “truthiness” of that statement–based on your own findings–but for me, it was a blast from the past to hear anyone talk about edu/gov links. Five years ago, a .edu or .gov link was considered the holy grail of backlinks. These days, I rarely hear anyone talk about them as being any more important than other relevant/authoritive .com links.

What say you? Do you still seek out .edu or .gov links simply because they have that extension?

  • I have used edu/gov links and haven’t seen much of a difference on the weight.

    I think it matters on the actual domain not on the TLD

  • I picked up an awesome gov link about 4 months ago and never saw any change….I tend to believe that if any strength does come from these links its more over because they are from trusted domains, not because of the TLD. For example, a link from might carry the same weight as a link from…..Ok, I am just kidding that’s not likely to be true, 😛 but my point is that trusted domains are the ones that rank best and give the best link power no matter what their TLD is.

  • Andy, I agree with both you and Matt. I don’t feel as though links from .edu or .gov websites carry more weight than a regular .com site. It all comes down to how authoritative those sites are and if they have built up a trust with Google.

    One thing that I must point out though is the fact that .edu or .gov type sites usually have the trust factor with the search engines. They are legit sites that carry a lot of weight, so links from those properties are very valuable and often times more valuable than a .com site.
    .-= Greg Shuey´s last blog ..Fonts, SEO, and Compatibility: a Designer’s Dilemma =-.

  • Speaking purely from an SEM standpoint, .gov or .edu links don’t hold much weight for me anymore, and for the same reasons Matt Cutts talked about in the video. If Google is more concerned with the Page Rank, then it doesn’t really matter if the link is coming from a reputable blog, a long-standing Ecommerce site or the DoD website for that matter. The important things to consider are whether the inbound link has nofollow enabled and what the PR is for the website linking to you.

    Now, speaking from an Ecommerce standpoint, it certainly won’t hurt you to have inbound links from .gov or .edu sites because while those may not assign specific additional reputation via Google or other search engines (remember, Matt only speaks for Google!), I think inbound links from those extensions can make your site look more reputable and trustworthy to visitors. Can’t forget about them.
    .-= Nathan Schubert´s last blog ..Social Media for Restaurants =-.

  • I don’t think he is being fully honest with the nofollow tags….

    But I totally agree with the .gov and .edu links meaning much more than a link. What .edu and .gov links typically have going for them are more trust from the SERPs. But that’s not always the case, especially when you start finding .edu pages that have been spammed with comments. What good is a link from a page bogged down with spam?

  • And just for the record… That is one funny looking image of Matt petting his own shaved head!

  • “… Google basically treats links the same … we use the fact that you have PageRank, so we know how reputable a site is … links don’t really matter whether they come from a .gov or a .edu …” It’s sort of a sneaky back and forth that Matt is using here.

    Google may treat links the same, but they know how reputable a site is, so those .gov and .edu sites that are generally described as reputable would be worthwhile, even though you can certainly find reputable sites that are .com or otherwise.

    They are an EOE when it comes to site reputation — you don’t need an MD or PhD to get hired, but it wouldn’t hurt — but the best part is that Google does the background check. So that 10+ years of work experience … that looks pretty good on the resume, too.

    It’s an algorithm for a reason … it’s not meant to be simple, cut and dry.

    • Wait… google doesn’t like people buying links…

      Overall .edu and .gov will have a higher PR because of trust factors… but again there are plenty of spam .edu pages out there that will have no value at all.
      .-= Thos003´s last blog ..A Friendly Visit =-.

      • Matt Rooney

        Nothing mentioned of buying links … I’m speaking only of the sites themselves.

        Other than that i would agree with the statement. I’d venture a guess that if you had two sites, one .edu/.gov and the other .com, both with similar backlink profiles, that the .com would have a lower PR. But then again the likelihood of the profiles being similar is slim to none, so you never really have that control in place for equal comparison.

        • What may also go unannounced is that google may spend less time scrutinizing .edu/.gov sites… in other words, their matrix may actually favor them in the PR scale. I have also heard rumor that a .org site gets a free hall pass.

          …but that’s a rumor that I can neither confirm or will not deny. =)
          .-= Thos003´s last blog ..A Friendly Visit =-.

  • I’ve done a bit of research on this topic, and I can confidently state that the number of inbound .edu links to a domain correlates significantly with many important domain metrics. This relationship is much stronger than the number of inbound .gov links, or total inbound links. Furthermore, Bing tends to value .edu links much more than Yahoo or Google.

    As mentioned above, the TLD probably does not carry any special weight. Instead, .edu domains as a whole tend to carry high trust and authority. Correlation does not equal causation.
    .-= Sean Weigold Ferguson´s last blog ..Researching the Validity of Online Competitive Intelligence Tools – Introduction =-.

  • It makes sense that a link from an .edu site or .gov carries more weight than a regular link for the simple fact that they are very scarce to come by.

    At the same time, It seems as though the relevance of the links is equally as important. IDK that’s why I feel it’s best to diversify your link-building.

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  • I agree that a .gov or .edu is just an extension, but Google places a lot of importance in the credibility and reputation of the inbound link. I can’t think of many places where you can get links more credible or reputable than from a .gov site. The .edu sites, unfortunately, have become cesspools of spam. I think the .gov are probably still great to have for the sake of reputation and credibility.

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  • voltara

    Matt Cutts is full of it. gov and ,edu links are still far more valuable than .com equivalents. Google is worried about SEO’s gaming the system. Maybe lesser .eu sites are being discounted but links from major universities and research papers are still gold

  • I tend to agree with many when they say that it doesn’t really matter. While we all agree that Toolbar PageRank is a poor metric, true PageRank is what we’re all after. Generally a .gov or .edu would have a fairly good backlink profile because the information is considered factual, however a .com (or any other page on the internet) with an equal PageRank is just as good. I think that’s pretty much what Matt was getting at.

    Quality links will always be quality links.

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  • I think those kind of links doesn’t matter anymore it’s just another link IMO. I still wouldn’t count it out though.
    .-= Jermaine´s last blog ..Emotions & Caring Mixed Into One =-.

  • Mr. Cutts is speaking out of the side of his neck. He’s not telling the whole truth, but trying to not out right lie. Mr. Cutts and Google the company has issues with the truth.
    .edu and .gov domains are positioned much higher in the SERPs than we’re led to believe they should be. Their links also pass more link juice. This is true no matter what their page rank. There are other sites that are the same.

    I don’t think domain “trust” is right way to describe this factor (although it’s close. Because these sites are usually any more trustworthy than others. It’s about something else that’s hard to define other than to say Google likes these sites better than others and we’re going to hook them up in any way we can.

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