An important component of a well-planned SEO strategy is earning backlinks for your website from other, high authority and reputable websites. It is difficult and at times an overwhelming process. However, it does pay dividends in the long run.
Generally, receiving high-quality backlinks from popular websites helps a lot with your website’s ranking on search engines. These are usually the websites that fall under the .com, .net or .org category.
However, another category of websites exists in isolation – used exclusively and solely by the United States government – called the .Gov links. These are the most powerful, highest authority links you can get. They are also the hardest ones to earn.
Most search engines do not publicly reveal how their ranking algorithms work or whether .Gov links hold more weight than any other extensions. However, it is a common truth among SEO specialists and professionals that .Gov links have an extra SEO power.
That is to say, scoring a backlink from a .Gov website can increase your website’s authority significantly more than a backlink from a traditional website with high authority. This is because these sites are inherently credible and trusted by search engines.
Point is, securing a backlink from a .Gov domain has tremendous value in terms of SEO and can help raise your search rankings by a significant margin. Page ranking, on its turn, is one of the key components for a successful desktop or mobile marketing campaign.
What are GOV Backlinks?
Considered top-level domains (TLDs), the .Gov domains are strictly used by the government of the United States or other state governments and departments within the US jurisdiction. Some notable agencies that use the .Gov domain are the US State Department, and FBI. In some cases, the .Gov domain may be even granted for use to local government organizations.
According to the General Services Administration, there are currently over 1500 active .Gov domains. This is due to the fact that there are many restrictions that complicate the process of registering a .Gov domain. The process is governed by a lot of policies and regulations which serve as a guideline for registering and maintaining those domains.
Therefore, getting a backlink from a .Gov domain is not an easy task. Since these websites are placed under huge scrutiny, the traditional way of link building will not bear you any positive results with .Gov websites. However, a lot of websites have succeeded in getting a backlink from different .Gov websites. This means that it is not an impossible task and there are still some methods you can utilize to get a backlink yourself.
The Value of .GOV Links for SEO
The general belief among the SEO community is that backlinks from .Gov websites are the most valuable and the most potent because they come from a place of authority and credibility. As such, search engines like Google give them more weight, thus increasing their SEO value.
Because the registration of .Gov domains is inherently very complicated, the organizations (exclusively government-related) that apply and qualify for such domains have to be legitimate. Which means that their website will naturally also have a high authority.
TLDs like .Gov and .Edu have a higher ranking than some of the more popular websites. To put this into perspective, White House’s official website has a domain authority of 97, whereas Coca Cola’s official website (one of the biggest corporations globally) has a domain authority of 87. A full ten points difference between a government website and the world’s most popular and recognized brand.
Thus, it is evident that a mention via a backlink from a .Gov domain is perceived as more valuable in the SEO community. And this is not necessarily a misconception or a mere theory that SEO specialists put belief in – it is a fact. Websites that have actually received a backlink from a .Gov domain are more likely to rank higher.
With that being said, it is also worthy to discuss what values .Gov backlinks bring to the table from an SEO standpoint in a bit more detail. This will help you understand why you need to put effort into gaining a backlink from a .Gov domain.
● Backlinks from .Gov domains are long-lasting. Put simply, these websites run for many years without any interruption in services. Thus, they are constantly online and the risk that the website may be taken down is very low. A backlink would, therefore, stand to benefit you for many years.
● Being endorsed by a reputable source. Not many companies or websites can boast that they are officially endorsed by a government organization through a mention on said organization’s website. Those who do are naturally more trusted because it takes a lot of work and credibility to be mentioned by a .Gov domain. Since .Gov backlinks are pretty rare, being part of that special club of select few can lend your website a sense of authority like no other method ever could.
● The “Link Juice” factor. We have talked plenty about how potent these .Gov backlinks can be. Scoring one for your own website will do wonders for your SEO and search engine rankings. These domains have higher authority than the rest partly because they produce high-quality content and are established organizations in real life.
However, these advantages come with a great price. Since .Gov backlinks are so reputable, it is extremely hard to get one. There are two major challenges associated with it.
● There is a scarcity of .Gov domains, increasing its demand. It is a simple question of supply and demand. There are a limited number of government domains, as it is not easily accessible, which subsequently increases its demand from an SEO standpoint.
● Earning backlinks from .Gov is difficult. Traditional link building strategy has you contacting website admins or owners to request a backlink. However, it is not as simple as that with a .Gov domain. To score a backlink your website has to provide value and have worthy substance of some sort. The complicated procedure involved in gaining a .Gov backlink makes it all the rarer, thus increasing its value in terms of SEO.
Where to Find .Gov Backlink Opportunities?
The .Gov domains do not conform to the traditional methods of link building. This means you have to look for backlink opportunities in different places, often thinking outside the box and utilizing unorthodox methods.
While it certainly is not an easy task to score a backlink from a .Gov domain, there are ways you can work around it and opportunities you can seek (more on that later in the article). Even though these opportunities are few and far in between, when you catch yourself being close to one of the following, make sure to make the most out of it.
● Local .Gov Backlinks
Sometimes it pays to start small and work your way up the ladder. This is why you should not aim to receive a backlink from, say, the federal government’s .Gov domain or a state government for that matter.
Local governments also have their own .Gov domains and are usually much more open to promoting and helping local businesses. Remember that their goal is to stimulate the development of local businesses.
This approach is best reserved for local businesses, though. So if your company operates in, let’s say, Los Angeles, there is no point to trying to request a link from New York city’s government.
So how do you get a backlink from a local .Gov domain? First, visit their website and search for a department that deals with matters most related to your business/website. Then see if they provide backlinks to other companies. If they do, chances are you can request a mention yourself.
● State .Gov Backlinks
Sometimes local governments do not have an official website. In other cases they do but it is neither active nor maintained well enough. In this case, you can try scaling up by looking for a backlink opportunity from a state government website, leveraging your local presence while stepping up the ladder.
State governments are generally much better funded and equipped to handle the development of the local economy. This entails that they can devote more funds and resources to having an active, “healthy” website, which makes for a better backlink opportunity.
As you move up the ladder with .Gov backlinks, the process of link building becomes harder. Though, generally, it pays to have other backlinks from other organizations with a .Gov domain. The reason is that this way the state government is much more likely to view you as a legitimate source. Moreover, it increases your chances of getting a backlink from them.
● Federal .Gov Backlinks
Getting a backlink from a federal government’s website is the hardest of all. It requires serious effort because you are dealing with agencies and organizations that work at the national level.
In this case, your best bet is to look for organizations that deal with your industry and sphere and get a brand mention from their website. However, before you jump the gun and start asking for endorsement, make sure that they provide backlinks in the first place. This means researching their websites to see if they link any companies or not.
Then you need to tailor your request for each organization or agency you are going to contact, making sure that the objective of your request for an endorsement aligns with the objective of that department.
Federal .Gov domains are not in the business of link building, nor do they give out backlinks for fun. They have to determine that it fits their cause and whether your website is worthy of mention or not. Basically, if your website does not serve as a good resource that the federal .Gov domain can reference, you are of no use to them.
GOV Backlink Building Strategies
As with any link building endeavor, you need to have a good strategy in place for it to work. With .Gov backlinks in mind, your strategy should be much more intricate and well planned. Therefore, developing and sticking to a strategy will ensure you earn the most coveted backlink in the SEO world.
Having established that, let’s discuss what you can do to gain mentions on .Gov domains. You can either use these ideas or take inspiration from them to build a strategy that best fits your needs.
- Establish credibility
The first part of your strategy should be establishing a foundation for your company and website. A website that contains relevant and informative content builds up credibility which you can use to your advantage. The quality of your website has to be high enough for .Gov extensions to consider mentioning you. When you are a leading player in your own industry and come from a place of authority, you look much more appealing for .Gov websites.
- Find the right government websites
It is important to look for backlink opportunities from relevant government websites. The organizations that deal with your sphere are the websites that you should target. For example, if your website niche is healthcare, you can turn to the Health Ministry website for getting a brand mention.
- Become active in .Gov forums
Some government websites will occasionally host forums online. This is a good place to establish your presence. Though, it is not advised to spam your website’s link left and right in these forums. Rather you should try to gain recognition for your company/website to become a trusted authority.
- Comment on .Gov domains
This is a bit of hit and miss situation since most .Gov websites do not have a comment section. Those that do allow interactions through comments make for a good opportunity to leave a digital footprint of your website through a backlink. Keep in mind that comments sections on .Gov websites are heavily monitored, so an obviously promotional comment will be taken down instantly. That is why you should try to post relevant comments with insightful arguments and mention your brand discreetly within those comments as if you are referencing an outside source.
- Request to be listed in the resource page
A good portion of .Gov websites have a dedicated resources page where they link to or mention other companies or organizations. You can request that they add your company on that page, thus helping you score a valuable backlink from a .Gov domain in addition to enhancing your overall credibility.
Gaining backlinks from top-level domains is the backbone of a good, organic SEO. But there is an ultimate prize that most websites cannot possess—backlinks from .Gov domains. These are the most valuable backlinks in the SEO community and can help to increase your search engine rankings. Gov backlinks are very rare and you will have to work hard and earn trust to get them. Hopefully, with the help of this article and the strategies we have outlined, we were able to shed more light on the process of gaining .Gov backlinks.