What Is .Edu Domain : Registration, Links and Google Juice

What Is .Edu Domain : Registration, Links and Google Juice

.edu domain is one of the seven generic top-level domains created originally in the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). Edu is short for “education” since it was created for the U.S. educational and academic institutions such as universities, colleges, or research institutions.

A popular alternative to .edu is the second-level domain .ac, short for “academia” which is widely used not only in the U.S. but globally as well. Do not confuse this second-level domain with a local top-level domain .ac.

Read more about the differences between local and global top-level domains in our article Subdomains vs. Subfolderst.

In some countries, both .edu and .ac domains are used as second-level domains to distinguish between academic institutions of different types. In 2006, China announced that it would use .edu.cn for educational institutions, and .ac.cn for research institutions. One can register .edu.eu domain for European education-related projects or for educational organizations located in the European Economic Area.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right domain. It is just as important to have a catchy domain name for an educational website as for any other. To highlight your educational website, consider some of these alternatives:

  •   .university
  •   .academy
  •   .mba
  •   .school
  •   .courses
  •   .education

The United States Department of Commerce (DOC) is the primary authority for membership and operations in .edu domain space. In October 2001, DOC transferred the management and maintenance of .edu domain name registry of educational institutions to EDUCAUSE.

EDUCAUSE Whois Lookup has become the only source of contact information about the owners of the top-level domains .edu for the WHOIS Lookup Database. To search enter the desired domain name with “.edu” at the end (for example, mycollege.edu), pass through Captcha, and click “search”.

By submitting your request to EDUCAUSE Whois Lookup Database, you agree that the information received will not be used for advertising or commercial purposes; an automated collection of information from the EDUCAUSE server is prohibited by law.

Here is another interesting feature — the right to .edu domain is independent of the website content. EDUCAUSE does not impose restrictions on the website’s content or on the use of .edu domain, in particular, without explicitly prohibiting its commercial use. However, other restrictions may apply to .edu domain name holders in accordance with federal or local laws. .edu domain owners may, at their discretion, set policies governing the use and content on their own domain.

On the other hand, in accordance with the 6th amendment to the Cooperation Agreement between EDUCAUSE and the U.S. Department of Commerce, one cannot transfer any .edu names to other individuals. The transfer includes the sale, trade, leasing, assignment, or any other methods of transfer.

Who Can Get .edu Domain Name

Registering .edu domain name does not establish ownership of the domain name, but allows using it for a certain period of time. How to get an edu domain name? Your right to obtain an .edu domain is unrelated to other domains you may have or acquire in any other top-level domain, such as .us, .com, or .org. EDUCAUSE can register no more than one .edu domain name for each institution, and you are limited to only one .edu domain name. You can apply for the .edu domain name by following the instructions on the corresponding page.

There is a number of prerequisites that you must meet to register or renew your .edu domain name. Educational institutions, academic institutions, or non-profit organizations can register .edu domain name. A complete list of criteria and a detailed description with examples can be found here. We will discuss only the main eligibility criteria.

One of the main requirements is the domain name itself. In addition to rare occasions of transfer of rights or inheritance, your domain name should represent the name of the applicant organization. Generic domain names (www.college.edu or www.online.edu) are not allowed.

To register .edu domain name, an educational institution must operate in the U.S. This rule applies to everyone, from universities and business schools to seminaries and law schools. It is required to confirm the full and permanent accreditation of the organization as an independent institution at the time of application. Applications from educational institutions that have passed preliminary or temporary accreditation are not be accepted. Some accrediting agencies deal only with educational institutions, and some only with academic institutions. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to clarify the status of your accrediting body before applying for the .edu domain.

Nonprofit organizations have the right to register one .edu domain if the vast majority of their members are colleges, universities, and other relevant educational organizations. The main criteria are that at least 75% of the nonprofit members qualify for .edu domain. Nonprofits whose members are mostly individuals, cannot apply for .edu domain name.

There is a small exception for other legal entities. Organizations registered in the U.S. can also submit an application if their main type of activity is to manage any number of accredited institutions, i.e. entities capable of applying for .edu domain. Such a legal entity must be authorized, established, or recognized by the state, local or national government to conduct this type of activity.

If your organization meets the criteria and the desired domain name is free, your application will be approved, and a Customer Service Agreement (CSA) will be concluded with your organization.

.edu Domain Registration

How to get .edu domain, and is free .edu domain registration possible? Unlike top-level domains that are managed by ICANN, .edu domain management is supervised by the U.S. Department of Commerce. EDUCAUSE is authorized to charge an annual administration fee of $77 to recover the management costs. Besides, you will need to sign an EDUCAUSE Customer Service Agreement (CSA) and update your agreement to its terms annually. Buying .edu domain is possible for a period of 1 to 3 years; EDUCAUSE accepts checks, or Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discovery cards. 60 days before the expiration of the paid period, the contact person will be provided with an invoice for the extension of services and the necessary instructions. 

Detailed instructions for creating and setting up your personal account can be found at this link.

Backlinks from .edu Domains

There are several points of view on the value of backlinks from .edu domains. Link builders highly value them due to their credibility. Websites on .edu domain often have high authority since, for the most part, they have been around for a while. It is widely believed that Google considers many such websites as authoritative which gives power to the relevant backlinks.

At the same time, here is what John Muller said on his twitter


Google does not deny the value of useful content and backlinks from .edu websites. However, there is an issue with the abuse of the ability to get such links and a lack of control by the website administration. This leads to the need to regulate the links by the search service.

If your strategy requires increasing the number of links from the .edu domain, keep in mind two important points. A sharp surge in .edu backlinks may trigger spam alerts in the Google algorithm. Do not rush; quality compensates for the quantity. Besides, the anchor text of your links is important. If the keywords are highly dense in the link, and it will do more harm than good.

Below we describe some good link-building tactics that will allow you to not only get a link from a website of interest but also create high-quality and useful content.

Local Approach

Use a local approach if the website you want a backlink from is a local business. Start with several local schools and colleges. Universities often list local businesses that provide services to the university. Find websites that offer directories of local businesses and services, and ask to include your website. Local restaurants, hotels, boutiques, and even retail outlets are sometimes listed on the college website. Do not forget about your alma mater — some universities have public alumni databases where you can include the URLs of your projects.

Teachers and Staff

A great example would be Egobait. If such content would fit into the structure of your project, publish an interview with an outstanding staff member or teacher. Stay relevant; the topic of the interview should resonate with your website in general. By posting it on your website or blog, you will likely get a backlink since many employers like to show off their employees’ achievements. Universities like to promote their professors, and their interviews

are usually spotlighted and posted to the university’s website. Oftentimes, professors themselves repost their interviews, especially if they have a personal website in the .edu domain. As a last resort, you can try your hand as a guest speaker, which will give you a mention on the university’s website or blog.

Student Community

Students consume a huge amount of services. Create a job page or regularly publish student employment reviews. Career centers at local colleges are happy to re-post such information. What about your blog? Pick up a few suitable publications on the official university or college blog and mention them on your home page. Oftentimes, students are instructed to write such materials, and the general public does not pay much attention to it. If you pay attention to them, especially the authors, you may be able to establish a partnership.

Besides, you can hold intellectual games, evening classes, organize internships and workshops, provide spaces for co-working or classes. This will benefit both the student community and your brand recognition.

Competitive Analysis

If your competitors are also keen to get backlinks from .edu domains, this can make it easier for you. Browse backlinks to competitor websites, select the appropriate ones, and analyze their contents. If a website similar to yours was able to get a backlink to a page with low-quality content, it will be easier for you to get a link from the same source by offering them better content.

Discounts and Scholarships

Google repeatedly warned about the consequences of direct selling. You can use a more delicate approach. For instance, if you have a local business, offer discounts to the staff and teachers of local colleges, schools, and universities. Naturally, it is better to not ask for the placement of your links or any other services. In order to let the staff know about this opportunity to get your discount, responsible persons (usually HR) can send out your links or post information in a special section on the school’s website. A good landing page will come in handy.

Another option is to organize a student scholarship, even a small one. Any university will be happy to raise its rating by offering the opportunity to reduce education costs. Naturally, they will post and disseminate the scholarship information as best as possible.

How to Find Relevant Schools

As you know, the best source of links is Google itself. All pages from which it is worth getting links have already been indexed, and you just need to be able to find them.

For example, to get the entire list of websites with the desired domains, look for: site: *. edu

To narrow down the results, use the keywords of your project or your target niche, for example: site: *. edu agriculture wine

As you can see, the number of results dropped significantly. You can refine the query using text-only search, for example:

  • site: *. edu allintext: agriculture wine
  • site: *. edu agriculture wine “ice wine” – Using secondary keywords.
  • site: *. edu california sacramento intext: agriculture – If you need local results, you can refine the search taking into account your target region, specify its name in the search bar.

By selecting several suitable websites, you can analyze them using free tools to find broken or old links. This gives you a fairly accurate idea of what content will be offered for publication on these websites in the first place and how to begin building cooperation with them.

Rumors about a higher ranking of backlinks from .edu domains have existed for a long time. Long ago, back in 2010, Matt Cutts, former head of the Google Antispam Team, addressed this question. Speculations, attempts to trick the algorithm, and abuse can seem an easy way and even bring short-term results. However, just like thrown-away plastic waste, they pollute the information environment and do a lot of invisible harm.

Collaboration with .edu websites is a great link-building strategy. Its effectiveness for your project depends on many factors. Relevance and quality of the published content is a good start on your website’s path to success!

About author
George is a freelance digital analyst with a business background and over 10 years of experience in different fields: from SMM to SEO and development. He is the founder of Quirk and a member of the Inspiir team, where he is working closely with stakeholders from many popular brands, helping businesses grow and nurturing meaningful projects. George writes regularly on topics including the technical side of SEO, ranking factors, and domain authority.