For many SEO professionals acquiring .Gov backlinks is like a holy grail. In this article, we cover all there is to know about building quality .Gov links.
Acquiring GOV backlinks is one of the most sought-after link building strategies that’s still popular among SEO experts today.
Although Matt Cutts (the former head of Google search quality team) has said that Google does not give any special importance to .gov domains, seasoned SEO practitioners have proven that powerful backlinks from government websites can improve your website’s overall search visibility.
Because of this, many online business owners and entrepreneurs compete to acquire high-quality .gov backlinks that will help increase their rankings in Google.
However, getting links from such websites is like a holy grail for most internet professionals.
In this article, we’re going to find out why GOV, or “government” website backlinks have the power to bring change to your SERP rankings.
We’re also going to explore various white-hat strategies on how to acquire them.
What Are .GOV Backlinks?
Getting a .gov backlink simply means getting mentioned on a government website with a hyperlink pointing towards your own website.
The mention can be by way of a clickable link (bare URL), or a clickable phrase that points to your site (anchor text link).
All federal government departments and agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of State, and the Department of Treasury use .gov top-level domains for their online presence.
However, the perception that .gov domains are predominantly restricted to the federal government of the United States is totally wrong.
As per the US General Services Administration, there were around 5,300 active .gov domains by the end of 2014 alone!
This means there are many local and regional government domains available out there too.
Although .gov domains are relatively rare in the online world, there are still enough of them available for you to try to acquire a link from.
How Valuable Are .GOV Backlinks?
SEO experts from all around the world unanimously believe that .gov domains are more authoritative than other types of links.
While it is true that your website can still improve its rank without having any .gov backlinks, agreeing to a trustworthy link with an official government website can boost your website’s authority by a great deal.
Acquiring a .gov backlink isn’t easy though, and that’s what makes it special.
Not all businesses can get backlinks from such websites. If you become successful in doing so, then you’ll be able to enjoy its massive SEO benefits for many YEARS to come.
Unlike .com and .net domains, the .gov links are more likely to be long-lasting. Government websites are consistently available online, year in and year out. They are created with an intention to constantly serve the general public and a specific need of citizens.
That’s why they cannot afford to go down or suddenly vanish from the internet.
Getting a backlink from a government website allows you to earn its benefits for decades and potentially for a lifetime. It is one of those SEO techniques that offer long-term rewards if done right.
Here are four other reasons why .gov backlinks are extremely valuable and should be part of your overall link profile.
The Trust Factor
If your website is getting trustworthy backlinks from a .gov domain, then your company will win the trust of online visitors. People could potentially see the link as an endorsement from the local or national government and will start to believe in your brand.
Not only that, .gov sites have high trust signals in Google.
As a result, the link that you get from a government website will be rewarded more by Google than a link from a relatively unknown domain.
The Rarity Element
It’s not possible for just about any person to purchase a .gov domain, as it demands submission of all requirements imposed by the federal or state departments. Only individuals who are authorized by their respective government agencies can register a .gov domain.
Even though it is difficult to get a .gov backlink, once you do, you can be assured that it’s coming from a legitimate high-quality source. Spammers and shady website owners are automatically out of the equation.
Natural Search Engine Authority
Government websites don’t need to run SEO campaigns to get on top of the search engine result pages. They are already recognized by online users.
Furthermore, they have quality exclusive content to serve visitor’s needs.
GOV domains mostly enjoy high domain authority and page authority scores, without even trying. Consider the SEO metrics of some of the .gov websites:
- Center For Disease Control and Prevention – CDC (DA 94 and PA 59)
- Federal Communications Communication – FCC (DA 90 and PA 55)
- National Aeronautics Space Agency – NASA (DA 94 and PA 64)
- US Department Of Tourism – DHS (DA 87 and PA 53)
By acquiring links from such sites, you can pass some of their link authority over to your website.
Again, government websites on the national level are tough to get links from. But there are state and local GOV websites that are relatively easier for you to target.
Hard To Obtain
Most forms of link building involve sending an email to the website owner and asking for a backlink. This is not the case with .gov domains.
The process of getting .gov backlinks is comparatively complex. Government websites don’t just link to any Tom, Fin and Harry that sends them an email request.
You’ll need to put in extra effort to learn their quality guidelines, connect to the right people in the organization, and use the right strategy in your SEO outreach.
Methods Of Acquiring .GOV Backlinks
At first glance, there seems to be no way to get top-notch .gov backlinks for your online business. Many people give up thinking that bureaucracy has complete control over government websites.
While getting .gov links sounds good in theory, many SEO professionals and business owners don’t know how to get started finding and securing government links.
Below are some initial action steps you can take.
- First, you need to discover the reasons why a particular .gov domain would link to another domain. Put yourself in their shoes and think of the possible motives for wanting to link out to third party resources.
- Second, you should decide which strategy to use in order to acquire .GOV backlinks.
Normally, there are two approaches to get such links: Black-hat and white-hat.
Of course, we don’t recommend using black hat methods! But it’s useful to mention this approach here so you’ll know its bad effects and avoid the strategy altogether.
The other approach is done by using white-hat methods that focus on quality and providing value. We’ll discuss that in greater detail later as well.
What To Avoid: Black Hat Method Of Getting .GOV Backlinks
If you do an online search for link providers, you’ll often see gigs saying “10 high-quality .gov backlinks for just $5”. This may sound good, but it could do more harm than good to your business for the long term.
There are a couple of major drawbacks to using such paid services:
- Missing Out On Vital Business Relationships: If you are paying someone to get backlinks to your website, then you are losing the opportunity to build relationships with government organizations. The webmasters sitting at the government’s end won’t know anything about you. And because they do not have a business relationship with you, they could easily remove your link on their website in near future.
- Bad Link Neighborhoods: Have you thought of how many other websites will get .GOV backlinks for $5? If someone is selling you 10 government links for $5, then he must be doing the same for dozens of other websites too. You will never be able to stand out after getting surrounded by hundreds and thousands of other paid links.
Having said this, using a black-hat approach is a bad SEO practice in general. It will restrict your website’s long-term potential.
Much worse, Google may end up punishing your online presence for link manipulation. You might get a slight boost in traffic, but it’s going to ruin your reputation in the end.
Therefore, it is best to avoid shortcuts and quick fixes when acquiring government links.
Unfortunately, many webmasters still don’t get it yet. Here’s the better choice instead.
White-Hat Methods Of Acquiring .GOV Backlinks
We recommend using only white-hat techniques for getting government links (because frankly, only high-quality links matter). Check out these proven strategies for finding .gov backlink opportunities.
Commenting On Government Blogs
Some government domains still allow “dofollow” links in their comment section. Although this is becoming increasingly rare because of spammers, you can still find government blogs that doesn’t turn comments into nofollow links. And even if you only get a nofollow link, the potential for high quality traffic is still there to enjoy.
The important thing is to make insightful blog comments, avoid spamming, and contribute to healthy discussions.
Write About A Pressing Social Issue That Concerns A Government Agency
For example, if your local community is concerned about preserving the environment, write about your company’s commitment to environmental preservation. Within your blog post, you can mention the government agency involved with that particular social aspect and how your business supports their cause.
This is a good linking opportunity because by creating such content, you will have a springboard for conversation when you start reaching out to the government website concerned. In many cases, the government agency in question will find out about your post organically and link to it naturally.
Interview A Government Agency Official
Some local government officials will welcome an interview if they find that you’re legitimate and have a wide audience. While this may be harder to do for startup websites, it can be easier to leverage if you have an established audience already.
Politicians and department heads in government offices would always welcome additional exposure, so the interview would be a win-win situation for both of you.
Once the interview is done, you can write down the transcript, do some structural edits, then publish on your blog as is. You can then inform the government official’s office about the published interview and invite them to link to it from their website. Difficult, but not impossible.
Try To Become A Government Agency Partner Or Provider
If you are selling a product or service that’s needed by a government agency, you can position yourself to partner with them and offer discounts to their employees. This can range from office supplies, clothing, furniture, or even third-party services such as dental services, hairstyling, tailoring or even party needs. The possibilities are endless.
Once you get a partnership or contract as an official government agency provider, you can request the agency to link to your site’s discount page to announce the benefit to all their employees.
Find Broken Links In .Gov Resource Pages
Many government websites are not known for keeping their websites constantly up to date most of the time. Some of them have resource pages from many years ago which have not been updated.
The key for you is to find government sites related to your industry, go to their “resource page” or recommended links section, and find outdated links (also known as broken links). Once you identify a broken link, inform their webmaster about it and suggest a relevant link from your site as a replacement.
There are many other ways you can get started with white-hat .gov link building, but first you need to find a good amount of prospective sites you can target to build links on. Here are some ways to do that.
How to Find .GOV Backlink Opportunities
There are different .gov link opportunities that you can avail to serve your purpose. Let’s go through each one of them.
Federal .GOV Backlinks
Federal government’s backlinks are the best ones that you could aim to acquire. There are various sorts of agencies, organizations, departments, and commissions at the national level.
The key is to search for one that’s related to your company. You can do a search on Google for federal government sites using query strings as follows:
- Site:.gov inurl: blog
- Site:.gov forums
- Site:.gov blog
- Site:.gov comments
- Site:.gov log in/create account
The kinds of websites you’ll find using the above query strings are very powerful due to three important reasons:
First, federal government websites get the maximum traffic.
Second, domains of these national-level websites tend to have the highest domain authority.
Third, they are quite difficult to acquire. This means, you won’t see many competitors getting traffic from the same government source.
State .GOV Backlinks
You may struggle to find the official website for your county or city. This is because many cities don’t have dedicated websites. Even if they do, sometimes, these sites aren’t managed well.
There is no need to get worried if that’s the case. You can widen your search to the state government level to find more linking opportunities. You will find that there are a lot of business listing opportunities on a state level.
All you have to do is to visit the USA State Government Directory to see all the state government websites available.
Local .GOV Backlinks
Many city agencies in the United States focus on local business development. They want to bring in jobs, tax revenues and assist communities in many ways.
Find good prospects by searching directory listings in a city’s official website and research the best way to request a business listing.
If you are not clear on the requirements or process mentioned on their website, simply call using their phone number and ask questions. This approach is very useful for local SEO.
How To Reach Out To Government Sites For Links
Now that you have a better idea on many possibilities of acquiring a .gov backlink and where to look for opportunities, let’s go through a step-by-step process on how to reach out to pursue such opportunities.
- First, research and find five .gov websites that have linked to private companies in the past. If those five websites have already provided backlinks to other companies, it means that there is a chance for you to get a backlink from that source as well.
- Then search for the contact information given on their official website.
- Contact the relevant department and ask for a .gov backlink to your business website. Before initiating contact, you need to establish a clear reason why they should link to you. Create a phone call script that highlights this reason and aim to convince them of the value of linking to you. For example, you might call them to point out an existing broken link on their site and offer your link as the more up-to-date alternative.
- You might observe slight delays because most government websites have too many responsibilities. So, make sure to get ready for the follow-up. Keep checking with them on a regular basis until you get the desired .gov backlink.
How to Track .Gov Backlinks
You can pore over the web day and night, trying to find some good .gov linking opportunities. However, a more productive winning strategy is to follow the success of your competitors and see where and how they have acquired government backlinks.
By using competitive analysis, you no longer need to reinvent the wheel and try to discover new linking sources. Just look at your competitor’s link profile, study the data in front of you, and instantly build a shortlist of potential .gov websites that you can reach out to for link acquisition.
You can do this by using a competitive analysis tool like Linkody. Chances are, your most successful competitors have already one or two .gov links under their belt. To find out those link sources. Simply follow these steps:
Step 1 – Sign up at Linkody and add your website for backlink analysis.
You will get a list of links that presently refer to your website. This is important because it will allow you to see your entire link profile in one screen. You’ll also be able to see the SEO metrics of the domains presently linking to your site. This will be extremely helpful in the future for keeping track of any new GOV backlinks that are acquired.
Step 2 – Add a competitor and filter results.
By doing this, you will see if they are getting any links from .gov websites. Simply add the domain name of your competitor and click on “Add Competitor”.
After adding the competitor, Linkody will populate all competitor’s backlinks. This might take a while.
Step 3 – Filter results and see the .gov domains your competitors already have on their link list.
You can then decide to contact these government websites and try to acquire links on their domain.
Using the competitor analysis approach to find .gov backlinks has a lot of benefits.
For one, you’ll be able to save a lot of time. Instead of going through every .gov website one by one, you can start with the ones already used by your competition and build from there.
Another benefit is that it can be easily outsourced to a junior level member of your SEO team. This is because using a reliable tool like Linkody or other software that helps you with competitive analysis can be easily taught to your staff. You can leverage their time and effort when trying to build government links.
What To Keep In Mind While Searching For GOV Backlinks
One thing that you need to keep in mind while searching for GOV backlinks is that there should be a mutual benefit between you and the government site. Remember that the purpose of a federal or state site is to engage their visitors and provide them with necessary information.
These sites will let you connect with their readers only if your company provides value that will be useful.
Government backlinks can play a key role in building your online reputation. They are significant when it comes to taking your company’s search engine rankings to the next level.
Although it can be difficult to pursue and acquire, the rewards are well worth it in the long run.
By using a competitor analysis tool (such as Linkody), you’ll be able to uncover .gov linking opportunities on a city, state, and nationwide level.
Don’t listen to the naysayers who say that it’s practically impossible to build links from government sites.
Remember, the lesser people who do it, the less competitive it is going to be. So consider it a blessing in disguise that many website owners are shying away from finding and getting .gov backlinks.