EDU websites are the holy grail of link building, but how easy are they to get?
Typically, you can earn backlinks through online publishing platforms, blogger outreach, the broken link method, infographics, and even Wikipedia links. But earning an EDU backlink is a different type of challenge.
So what’s The solution? Scholarship link building. Follow along as we walk you through your first EDU backlink.
Step #1: Don’t Forget It’s a Real Scholarship
Authenticity is essential for scholarship link building. If it’s obvious you’re creating a scholarship for DA scores, you can kiss your EDU link building campaign goodbye.
You’re creating a real scholarship for students. Put effort into crafting a legitimate, authentic reward that aligns with your brand. If your niche is marketing, you could create a scholarship for aspiring marketers, web designers, or business professionals.
Step #2: Make it Official
Again, authenticity is key. That’s why you need a professional landing page for your scholarship.
Your landing page should include:
- A detailed explanation of your scholarship
- The scholarship reward amount
- Legal terms and stipulations for scholarship recipients
- Scholarship application requirements
Optional content ideas include an animated explainer video, frequently asked questions, and applicant surveys to improve your scholarship link building efforts moving forward.
It’s critical to be as precise as possible with this step. Colleges and universities will scrutinize your scholarship information with a fine-toothed comb.
Step #3: Reach out to Financial Aid Offices – All of Them
Once you have your scholarship, shop it around. For this step, you’ll need to gather financial aid contacts to create a massive email list.
First thing’s first: who’s in charge? You need to get in touch with decision-makers. Do your best to gather contacts for financial aid directors, assistant directors, and directors for scholarships and grants.
If there are no top-tier contacts available, try managers, coordinators, and administrative assistants. Most financial aid offices have a general email address available as well.
Step #4: Build Your Financial Aid Contact List
List-building can be a massive undertaking, but with the right tools, you can cut your time in half or even more.
Here are several tips, tools, and tricks to make your life easier:
- Email scraping tools
- Crowdsource your contact research
- Scrape the web for college and university websites
- Gather contacts via social media
Don’t forget to keep your contacts organized in a spreadsheet for future scholarship link building campaigns.
Step #5: Email Your Financial Aid Contacts
This step is so important because you want your scholarship approved as quickly as possible. However, you may need to perform two or even three rounds of outreach to successfully have your backlink posted. This is another reason why you need to create a legitimate scholarship with substance.
If you faithfully follow steps 1 through 3, chances are good that your scholarship will pass muster. Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of time personalizing each outreach email. Since you’re presenting the same scholarship to each institution, you can use a template!
Make sure your scholarship requirements are clearly visible and easy to find on your landing page. Don’t write a long email either. Keep it short, to the point, and include a bullet-point list description of your scholarship’s benefits.
Step #5: Email and Track
Scholarship link building requires a high-volume contact list, so tracking your progress is essential. You don’t want to keep bugging an institution that’s already posted your backlink!
Make a spreadsheet of all your EDU link prospects, along with DA scores, contact information, outreach dates, and backlink progress notes. Don’t forget to regularly check your backlinks to make sure they’re still there.
Step #6: Pick Your Scholarship Recipients
Once your scholarship is posted, expect a flood of applicants. You should also create a spreadsheet containing the applicants’ names, schools, transcripts, scholarship essays, and other pertinent information. This will help you choose your recipients wisely.
Remember, trust and credibility are huge factors here. You don’t want to go into these decisions lightly. When worthy applicants don’t receive scholarships, you run the risk of damaging your scholarship’s reputation online – and that’s a whole other SEO problem to deal with!
Calling your winners personally with the good news goes a long way as well.
Step #7: Reap the PR Rewards!
Scholarship link building is great for your DA score, but it’s also a public relations win. Why? 90% of American consumers trust brands that give back to the community over those that don’t.
So make sure to broadcast your scholarship (and winners) loud and clear on your blog, social media, and local publications. Great PR will lead to even more backlinks, so it’s a win-win.
Step #8: Analyze Your Scholarship Link Building Campaign
No link building campaign is complete without analysis. You need insight into where you went wrong, what you did right, and link building opportunities to pursue.
You may have to tweak your outreach email, reassess your scholarship terms, or redesign your landing page. Don’t be afraid to up your social media game either.
Before you get to work on your scholarship link building, let’s recap all eight steps:
1. Brainstorm a trustworthy and relevant scholarship idea
2. Create an official landing page for your scholarship
3. Reach out to financial aid offices
4. Build an organized contact list
5. Create your outreach email template
6. Inform the winners
7. Look for extra PR opportunities
8. Analyze your results (and watch those backlinks like a hawk)
As with all SEO campaigns, the more you do it, the easier it will become. Don’t wait too long to get started on your link building, as algorithms can change at a moment’s notice!