Can You Ever Purchase a .GOV or .EDU domain?

.edu and .gov links

Here’s the short answer to this question: no, you cannot ever purchase a .gov or .edu domain. Not unless you happen to be running an accredited post secondary institution (aka a college) or a government body or organization which is owned by the government (such as the Forestry Service). Now for the longer answer:

Restricted Domains

There are a number of restricted domains on the Internet. The two that are best known are .edu and .gov. These respectively are for educational institutions and for government bodies. Others include .mil which is only for military use and .museum which is only for, you guessed it – museums.

As a general rule, no individual can register these kinds of domains. Institutions can do so, but only if they happen to qualify under particular rules established by the organizations that govern these domain names. Now that said, there may be a back door way to get an edu domain for your site’s use; more on that in a moment.

Why You May Want One

First of all, the reason you may want to have a domain like this is simply because of the fact that the .edu and .gov domains tend to give more link juice (at least in theory) to those who have them since they are much more trusted than many other kinds of domains.

Of course, this is actually just a theory some SEO specialist happen to adhere to – others say that it’s not that they inherently are more link worthy, it’s just that these places tend to get linked to quite a bit and they therefore will inherently have more link juice to give out. That plus the fact that few people actually can get links from them means the links are more valuable.

Grandfathered Institutions

There are a handful of places that are not accredited universities which do have .edu domains. The way they got them is by grandfathering. The rules for .edu domains were established in 2001 and prior to this, it was possible for other places, such as beauty schools and high schools to get .edu domains. If you happen to have one, you can hold onto it.

Sadly, these domains cannot be sold on the open market as the new rules specifically state that grandfathering only allows these places to retain their domains, not to transfer them out to others who may want to buy them.

To the best of my knowledge, there have never been grandfathered .gov domains available.

A Way to Get One

Okay, so you can’t actually get an EDU domain all your own. However, it may be possible to get a blog on an EDU domain. You would do it by getting someone who is a student to set up their own personal student blog on their school’s domain and voila, you’ve got yourself a .edu domain. The bad news is that these blogs are really supposed to be for commercial use so you need to tread carefully when trying this.

Grey Hat Way to (Sort of) Get EDU or GOV Domains

Finally, there is what might be called a grey hat way to kind of get an edu or gov domain name. It’s not a real one and it won’t allow you to get the link juice, but it may help with looking authoritative. Basically, you could register something like mydomain-edu.com (you could also substitute the edu with gov).

It’s not a real edu domain, but when visitors come to your site, seeing the edu in the domain may make them feel more at ease as if your institution is trustworthy because it has the edu in the domain. Again, it’s kind of grey hat.

Google will ignore it completely, but it may help some with people thinking you are trustworthy (at least in the short term – in the long term, I imagine such a domain would come to be seen as really spammy so this may be a great technique for a throwaway domain that’s intended to be up for a few weeks for an important event such as “fukushima-disaster-edu.com”).

28 thoughts on “Can You Ever Purchase a .GOV or .EDU domain?

  1. I have changed it to mention the Forestry Service. However, regarding the federal reserve, while it is technically a privately owned organization, it is under the control of the US government. The board of governors and the chairman of the federal reserve are selected by the president and are confirmed by congress. The fed is privately owned only insomuch as all federally chartered banks are required to become “members” and are considered “shareholders.” It is in fact a federally mandated organization which is legally independent of the US government. However, for the sake of clarity, I changed it to say “such as the Forestry Service” instead of Such as the Federal Reserve.

  2. Does any one know if Google actually cares about the domain ending for ranking links or putting you on top?
    Anyway, basically the best way to get a blog is to know a student with a university account and get them to give you access to their (probably unused) blog. Seems pretty Straight forward.

  3. The official word from Google is that no, they don’t care at all about the domain extension. However, your customers might, which is why you may want to build a site using a .com.

  4. Interesting. If I’m not mistaken, (as EricHammier already said), Matt Cutts did say once that edu and gov links don’t have more importance. But I doubt it! Maybe they say it just so marketers and SEO specialists don’t get too crazy about it and go on slapping their links on any .edu or .gov blog (or forum) they find.. which would indeed be a wise thing to do for Google. But hey, we can’t really know for sure. In my opinion, .edu and such domains are BOUND to be more authorative, and backlinks from them should certainly be of great significance.

  5. One can never know for certain. I know SEO professionals who insist it doesn’t matter and I know others who swear up and down that .gov links are special.

  6. Because it could be that they naturally get better page rank even if they aren’t actually “officially” better.

  7. I tend to sit on the side of agreement on both extremes. .Edu and .Gov should give more link juice and authority because of the authority they have. That said we have no idea if Google puts that in their algorithm. I just use diversification as my best bet and worry more about Alexa Ranking than extension of backlinks.

    1. The question though is not whether or not you or I consider these things to have more link juice but rather whether Google does and they unfortunately are not talking, meaning that the debate (kind of like evolution vs. creation and every other thing that can’t be proven without even a shadow of a doubt) will remain.

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. Could you tell us what you liked so much though? (one more tip — when you leave a generic comment like this, it sounds a little like spam so some webmasters will delete it).

    1. Yes and no. I mean facebook.com has massive link authority and it’s not .edu or .gov. OTOH, as I said, there are those who believe that these tlds do make a difference on their own.

    1. I’m reasonably certain that if you can do it then Google is wise to it, but an interesting tip all the same. Thanks for sharing.

  8. i dont think buying backlinks from providers help these days. I know one of the very good blog who performed such seo techniques and got sandboxed by google. Alert guys !!

    1. Listen, it’s all a matter of getting a professional to do it as opposed to an amateur. Amateurs just do a generic blast and they get their clients sandboxed. Professionals know how to do it in a way which that makes it look natural.

    1. That’s because nobody can register a .edu domain unless they run a university. The best you could do would be to register something like edu.com. Or you could look into getting one of those custom TLDs like say .education.

    1. Interesting. Any more details on exactly how that is supposed to work? Do you offer links from them or do you just allow people to link to them (if the latter, not sure what your point is).

  9. It is really helpful article specially considering .edu and .gov domain extension. I know, gov and edu domain cannot be obtain by any individual. Best techniques to get backlinks from gov and edu are small countries such as african and asian country.

    1. Not necessarily. There are plenty of state wikis which have .gov attachments and of course you can always find .edu blogs to comment on. Getting your own is much harder though…

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