There are actually two schools of thought regarding .Gov links and why they’re so coveted by SEO specialists. One school of thought goes that a .Gov link is inherently valuable while another school of thought suggests that it’s valuable because .Gov sites are often linked to and therefore are considered to be more credible. Who is right? Here’s what you need to know:
Restricted to Government Agencies
For those who have been living under a rock for the past 15 years, .Gov links are of course offered only by government agencies or by organizations affiliated with the government. This means that an ordinary person can’t get themselves a .Gov web address unless they decide to run for Congress and win the election.
By the way, as an aside, the last time I wrote something about .Gov links, someone pointed out to me that the Federal Reserve, which has a .gov link is not government owned. That’s true – it’s owned by all the chartered banks in the United States. However, it is a quasi governmental agency since all banks are legally required to sign up with the Federal Reserve in order to be federally chartered.
The bottom line though is that unless you are running a government agency or an agency or corporation which was chartered by the government, you can’t get a .Gov site.
Remember Foreign .Gov’s
While I don’t happen to know of any country which sells links on their .Gov sites to the general public, when searching for .Gov links, it may be worthwhile looking for foreign .Gov links. For example, PM.Gov.UK will take you the Prime Minister’s site in the UK.
But Is it the Chicken or the Egg?
In essence however, the question of whether a .Gov link is valuable is kind of a chicken or egg question. A .Gov link may be considered to be useful because of the fact that it is a .Gov link. Or it may be that a .Gov link is treated like any other website and it’s just that most .Gov sites have enough backlinks pointing to them that they become valuable in much the same way a link from the Facebook homepage would be worth a great deal.
Google Provides No Guidance
Sadly, Google doesn’t provide any guidance on this subject. From everything I’ve seen, Google seems to maintain a policy of ambiguity regarding .Gov and .Edu links, preferring to leave the SEO public guessing as to why these links seem to help so much more with SEO than with standard links.
It Doesn’t Matter Though
Ultimately however, it doesn’t really matter what makes .Gov links so special. The bottom line is that, like the chicken or the egg question, today we know that .Gov links do seem to provide more link juice than ordinary links. Therefore, it’s worth trying to get them whenever you can.