Exploiting EDU Domains for SEO

In the world of SEO (search engine optimization), an .EDU domain holds a lot of clout. Any URL linked-to from uwgb.edu to is raised up in their own search engine rankings simply because an .edu domain links to them. From the search engine’s point of view, our link adds credibility to that third-party website. This is well known among search engine marketers.

Creating Links to Outside Content

Because of the weight our links give to outside websites, you’ll want to carefully review any website you would like to link to and decide whether or not they are worthy of a link (“endorsement”) from us.

Any link that leaves our domain (uwgb.edu) is what you want to be aware of.

Requests for Links Back

Web Services receives several requests per week to provide outbound links to sites on all sorts of topics. These requests may not even be relevant to our site, but these advertisers are persistent. They’ll even offer to link back to uwgb.edu in return (“from 50 other websites!”).

Google technically does not allow paid links and will discount/penalize people for it. In practice, however, this sort of thing happens often and can work for SEO as long as the linking site isn’t an obvious “link farm” where Google would pick up on it being paid.

If you should receive a request like this, free or paid, don’t fall for it. Research the requesting site to see if they are legitimate. If in doubt, contact Web Services.

External RSS Feeds

Thinking of displaying an RSS feed on your site? Pulling in a feed full of constantly rotating links to new content on a third-party site is the kind of text-link advertising an Internet marketer dreams of, and we’d be doing it for free.

Technically we can add “no-follow” references to the links, but it remains an endorsement and SEO advantage. We recommend against this practice. (There are exceptions such as highly-regarded academic journals with no peers… contact Web Services if you have questions.)

Another point to consider is if that third-party site should get hacked and the RSS feed subsequently includes malicious content, it makes our own uwgb.edu website vulnerable.

If you feel strongly that providing a link to a site is important and of value to your students/audience, include a link to the site in your Resources list.

Spam Comments on Blogs

UW-Green Bay blogs receive hundreds of spam comments every single day. Because of the reasons we mentioned above, .EDU blogs are heavily targeted.

Unfortunately, most of our blog comments are nothing more than another spam post trying to get their advertising out there. Real humans (as opposed to bots) are paid to post real-looking comments on .EDU blogs with links back to websites.

There are hundreds of articles out there that will turn your stomach about how black-hat advertisers are spamming the heck out of EDU blogs.

UW-Green Bay was actually listed as an easy target in a comment spam blog post!

Can I just remove the URL from the comment?

Our approved blog templates prevent comment URLs from displaying in general, but yes, when moderating comments, you can go in and delete the URL field. (Roll over the comment in the Comments list, and a menu will appear below the listing. Select EDIT.)

You are right in wanting to delete the link if you DO accept the comment, but really, don’t even give them the time of day. It only encourages them.

Can we just hide the URL field on the comment form?

While we certainly can remove the URL field itself, it’s probably not worth the bother. Having the URL makes it much easier to identify a potential spam comment. Additionally, the robots submitting these comments usually aren’t actually using the form at all. They’ll still submit the comment and URL via their POST request regardless of the field being on the form or not, since they know it’s a default field for WordPress.

Don’t buy into their tactics – be safe, and mark them as SPAM. :)

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