How to Earn .gov Backlinks for More Link Juice

Wouldn’t it be nice if the federal government gave its full endorsement and support of your business?

Of course it would.

Full disclosure, that’s not what we’re doing here.

The process of earning .gov backlinks for more link juice is about as close as you’re going to get.

Essentially, our goal is to create backlinks pointed to your website, including its most valuable pages, from pages of .gov websites.

Why is this so valuable?

And how can you do it?

Why Do .gov Backlinks Matter?

First, why do .gov backlinks matter?

As you might imagine, these links are harder to earn than other types of links. So what makes them worth the extra time, energy, money, and effort?

  • Domain authority. For starters, websites with the .gov extension tend to have higher domain authority than other websites. In case you’re not familiar, domain authority is a loose measure of the trustworthiness of a given domain; the higher this figure is, the more value a link is going to provide. If you consistently build links on websites with higher domain authority, the domain authority of your website is going to grow, and you’ll find it much easier to rank highly for relevant keyword terms. Nearly all .gov websites enjoy higher than average domain authority by nature of their status.

 

  • Public trust. If you see a piece of information on a .gov website backed by the federal government, and a contradictory piece of information on a random personal blog, which piece of information are you likely to leave? If you’re like the vast majority of people, you’re much more likely to trust the .gov website. Despite missteps and errors committed by our government, we still consider the government a highly trustworthy source. Earning a link from these highly trustworthy sources can therefore help boost public trust in your brand.

 

  • Limited competition. We have to be honest in acknowledging that .gov backlinks are extremely hard to earn. This makes them less attractive in some ways, but it also introduces a new advantage: limited competition. All of your closest competitors likely acknowledge .gov links as being notoriously hard to earn, so they’re less likely to pursue them. As a result, if you can get .gov backlinks pointed to your website, you’ll have a massive competitive advantage.

 

  • High placement. Getting your brand or website featured on a government website can have massive visibility benefits. That’s partially attributable to the fact that government websites don’t have to compete. Governments have isolated monopolies; there is no direct competitor to the official government of a given region, or various governmental departments. Accordingly, you’ll benefit from the naturally high placement that results from these independent niches.

 

  • Rarity and impressiveness. Government backlinks are rare and therefore impressive to millions of people. If a .gov website makes it a point to cite your website for important information, or if they call out your brand in a positive light, it can have massive reputational benefits for you.

 

As you can see, .gov links provide value in many different ways.

However, it’s important to avoid misinterpreting or over exaggerating the value of .gov-originated backlinks. There’s nothing inherently special about these domains; instead, it’s all about the context. And we know this because Google has told us directly, more or less.

According to Matt Cutts, “Google doesn’t treat .gov or .edu domains any differently.”

Even if Google doesn’t give any intentional special treatment to .gov websites, there’s no question that .gov websites are more valuable for earning backlinks than typical domains.

What Is Link Juice?

Link juice is an informal term describing the authority or perceived trustworthiness passed from a referring domain to the target domain of the link.

Essentially, the more of this ethereal “link juice” you earn, the higher your website is going to rank for qualified queries.

How do we boost this link juice?

  • Domain authority. One of the most important factors for increasing link juice is the domain authority of the referring website. The higher the authority, the better.

 

  • Website and page relevance. We also need to consider the relevance of the website and the page on which the link is hosted. The more closely aligned the website and page are with your brand, the better.

 

  • Content quality. Most links are placed within some kind of content, establishing context for the link and providing value to end users. Higher quality content is superior.

 

  • Link placement and anchor text. Anchor text matters for establishing the context of the link, but it’s important to avoid over-optimizing. Similarly, links that are placed higher up often provide more value.

 

Simply earning links on a .gov website doesn’t mean you’ll get full potential linked use out of each one of those links. It’s still important to pay attention to these standards and build links strategically to maximize link juice.

The 3 Tiers of .gov Links

In the United States, there are three tiers of government: federal, state, and local.

Each of these tiers of government has multiple websites available for perusal.

1. Federal

Federal

Source

Federal government websites include websites around the White House, various federal government departments, federal courts, and more.

2. State.

State

Source

Each state within the country also has a variety of websites, dedicated to various organizations and departments within those state governments.

3. Local.

Local

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There are also many websites used by the governments of cities, counties, and regional authorities.

As you might imagine, the higher up you are on this hierarchy, the more valuable the links become and the harder it is to build those links. Federal government websites provide more visibility and juice, but are much harder to work with. Local government websites are much more accessible, but they don’t confer quite as many benefits.

How to Find the Right Government Websites

Much of your strategy for earning .gov backlinks will be finding the “right” government websites.

In other words, you need to find government websites that are going to be valuable for your SEO strategy as well as accessible for link building.

The most important factors you need to consider will be:

  • Domain authority. Remember, Google doesn’t give any special treatment to .gov domains, at least from an SEO perspective. It’s still important to do your research and figure out the domain authority of each referring domain you want to add to your backlink profile. The higher the domain authority, the better.

 

  • Relevance. It’s also important to look for government websites that are at least somewhat relevant to your brand and your industry. If you run a tax and accounting business, you probably don’t have much of a natural reason to have links from the Department of Agriculture.

 

  • Accessibility. Finally, you’ll need to consider accessibility. There are plenty of .gov websites that would be valuable to add to your backlink profile, but not all of them are worth the effort necessary to procure those backlinks. If it’s going to take you months of work and countless dollars just for a chance to earn a link, you’re probably better off spending that time and money on government websites that are lower-hanging fruit.

 

How do you find .gov websites that meet these criteria?

  • Google. The easiest way to start is with a Google search. Search for any topic or subject that’s relevant both to your industry and some aspect of government, and make sure to include .gov in the domain field of your query (using the Advanced Search option). This should help you generate dozens, if not hundreds of possibilities.

 

  • Competitive analysis. It’s also a good idea to conduct a competitive analysis. Look at your existing backlink profile, as well as the backlink profiles of each of your major competitors. Do you notice that there are any significant .gov backlinks pointing to your competitors’ websites? If so, these are likely to be viable targets for your own SEO backlink building strategy. After all, your competitors have already managed to build links there.

 

  • Directories. You can also find more government websites through government website directories. Many .gov websites interlink with each other, helping users find various related departments and organizations.

 

  • AI search. Finally, consider using an advanced AI search to discover even more government websites. This is especially helpful for finding local and community government pages that aren’t easily accessible through broad Google searches.

How to Earn .gov Backlinks

We’ve covered why .gov backlinks are so valuable and we’ve helped you find ideal government websites to add to your backlink profile.

So how do you actually earn those links?

These are some of your best options:

  • Search for broken links (and replace them). One common strategic approach is to search for broken links and offer to replace them. Government websites don’t always benefit from great upkeep, so they sometimes accumulate broken and irrelevant links. If you find these, you can point them out to the Webmaster, and offer to replace them with newer, stronger, more relevant links from your website.

 

  • Offer to create valuable content. Another option is to offer to create valuable content, pursuing guest posting as you might with other online publishers. Be aware that not all .gov websites readily accept guest authored posts, but those that do are extremely viable opportunities. Search for .gov websites that have sections titled “write for us” or “guest contributor.” Chances are, you’ll find at least a few dozen government websites that accept these public contributions. If you choose to build backlinks this way, make sure your content is of exceptional quality.

 

  • Be listed as a resource. You can also build links on government websites by getting your brand listed as a resource. The most straightforward approach here is to develop original research and original content that this governmental entity will want to cite. For example, you might publish new statistics on a particular problem that a government agency is specifically trying to solve. If you make your work available, and recommend it as a resource, it will be much more likely to be cited. You already know how valuable it is to have quality linkable assets, so earning a .gov link from those quality linkable assets is just icing on the cake.

 

  • Partner up. In some cases, your organization may be in a position to partner up with governmental agencies and institutions. If you provide certain resources or products to an organization, or if you lend support to the organization in some way, they may list you on a thank you page or make reference to your business in some other capacity.

 

  • Publish praise of the government agency. Government organizations and agencies love to generate positive press. They often highlight publications that call attention to them or praise them in some way. Accordingly, if you have a popular blog or communication channel, consider publishing abject praise of a particular government agency. You can also tag them on social media or call attention to your praise using some other channel. In many cases, the government organization will happily link to your publication for its own purposes.

 

  • Highlight a politician. Similarly, you can choose to highlight a particular politician associated with your target .gov website. This way, you can earn a .gov backlink and simultaneously make a valuable political connection. Consider praising, interviewing, or otherwise showcasing a politician using your brand platform.

 

These tips can help you get much more value from your SEO efforts:

  • Focus on value and relevance first. Your first and most important goal is likely to earn a link on a .gov website – however that happens to come to fruition. But if you want this strategy to be sustainable and effective in the long term, you need to make value and relevance your top priorities. Your chosen .gov website and the content around your backlink need to be strongly relevant to your organization and target audience – and your link needs to be valuable to both the .gov organization and the people visiting it. Otherwise, you’ll be far more susceptible to link removals and penalties.

 

  • Write custom pitches and proposals. It’s tempting to follow the same formula for outreach when you have 200 .gov websites to comb through. But you’ll see far better results if you write totally custom pitches and proposals. Look to see what types of content have been published on these .gov websites in the past. Appeal to individual editors running things.

 

  • Develop unimpeachable content. The quality of your content has a huge impact on your eventual success. Good onsite content is much more likely to earn links from .gov websites. Good offsite content is much more likely to be published and generate referral traffic. This is not an area you can afford to half-ass.

 

  • Follow up politely. Government employees aren’t always the most responsive, and some government organizations (especially local ones) are chronically understaffed. Accordingly, you shouldn’t be shocked if many of your outreach attempts go unnoticed or unacknowledged. It’s perfectly acceptable to follow up on your requests, even multiple times, but you should do so in a polite and professional manner. Wait at least a few days before attempting to send a follow-up message, and be mindful of the recipient’s time.

 

  • Know when to move on. It’s hard to earn links from .gov sources, even as an experienced professional. In some cases, the best course of action is simply to move on. If you’ve followed up multiple times with no response, or if you can’t make any progress with your proposals, cut your losses and move to the next opportunity.

Let’s face it.

Even finding relevant .gov sites is tough, let alone building links on them.

That’s why we take care of the grunt work for hundreds of businesses like yours.

If you want to learn more about how we do it, or if you’re ready to take your link building to the next level, contact us for a free consultation today!

 

Samuel Edwards