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Are .gov Links a Google ranking factor?

Plenty of companies are willing to sell you .gov links, but are they really more valuable in Google's search ranking algorithm?

Almost as long as we have search engines, links have been considered the currency of the web.

Who links to your site can illustrate your association, relevance to a particular topic and region, trustworthiness, and more.

When high-authority, trustworthy sites link to your pages, you benefit greatly from the implicit endorsement that PageRank transfers to your pages.

What could be more authoritative than government?

People still insist that .gov links are more valuable and preferable than other types of links, and a lot of people are willing to spend your money to build them.

Statement: .gov links as ranking factor

Government websites publish all kinds of important information that other websites link to – statistics and reports, important health and financial information, influential announcements, etc.

You can bet there are also strict checks and balances in place to ensure the authenticity of information before it is posted on government websites.Significant funding goes into government communications and publishing to support the creation of high-quality content accessible to all.

Once it's there, government-provided content is widely shared by mainstream media, social media users, various organizations, and more.

For these reasons, people andsearch engineTend to think government websites are fairly trustworthy.

So when a government agency links to you and says they trust you too, that must be huge.It has to be more important than some link from a local nonprofit or some blogger.

right?

Evidence of .gov links as a ranking factor

Why do people think .gov links are so valuable?

Well, just today, I found this valuable information from the services that sell them:

  • "You can gain a higher level of trust by having trusted and well-respected websites, such as government and academic study sites, that link back to your own.
  • "Since .edu/.gov sites are very authoritative, these backlinks will increase the authority of your site and Google rankings.
  • "These links deliver serious ranking juice.Links from such high authority sites boost your domain authority.
  • "Every link will be DOFOLLOW, and the ranking will pass.

Well, pass me that "grade juice".

If you're looking for confirmation that a .gov link will help with your Google rankings, there's no shortage of it out there.But consider the source.

Evidence against .gov links as a ranking factor

This was dismissed a long time ago, and has since been rebutted over and over again.But let's go back to 2008 and see what Matt Cutts had to say about .gov links:

"Generally, our policy is: a link is a link, a link;Whatever the value of that link is, that's the value we give it.Some people ask about links from DMOZ, links from .edu, or links from .gov, and they say, "Isn't there some kind of boost?Wouldn't it be better if the link was from .edu?The short answer is: no, it isn't.It's just that .edu links tend to have higher PageRank because more people link to .edu or .gov.

The number one question you should ask yourself (and your SEO team, whether in-house or outsourced) about any one link, specifically what domain authority is, or any of it.

Most importantly, "Does it make sense for this entity to link to this specific content?

Does it make sense for the USDA to link to our plumbing company's blog post exploring the advantages of different types of faucets?maybe not.

Whether the link came through spam comments, a link injection hack, or a weary low-level government employee spending a few bucks on the sidelines, Google is more likely to sniff it out.

.gov Links as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

A link is a link.Links are a confirmed Google ranking factor.

However, the specific question we're investigating is whether, in particular, .gov links are stronger than other types of links, or are different in some way.

The answer to this question is: absolutely not.

The value in the .gov link is just that it's a link, and if you try to game the system based on the TLD, that link may end up being of no value to you at all.

Google has many other more impactful and meaningful signals to consider links.This is too easy to manipulate and has no value to the algorithm.

Instead, focus on producing authoritative, trustworthy, relevant content that relevant sites want to endorse and re-share with their audiences.

Extended reading:

Are .edu links a Google search ranking factor?

Are Google's Search Quality Assessment Guidelines a ranking factor?

First Link Prioritization: Is It a Google Ranking Factor?

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