Well, we do not mean to waste any time so let’s get right into the post.

First things first,

What Is Scholarship Link Building?

what is scholarship link building

This term can be defined as the practice of offering a scholarship for enticing links from .EDU web pages.

Some would justify this tactic based on the reasoning that it is an awesome way to form or build goodwill in the local community.

But as expected, scholarship link building requires time and money but if we’re looking at the payoff, it makes it fully worth your while.

Unfortunately, this strategy although having been around for a while is often overlooked and termed as dead.

But some other SEO agencies still show it as one of their most important link building services.

So, we’re here to convince you that this strategy is, in fact, alive and still worth the time and effort.

What Are The Benefits Of Scholarship Link Building?

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We have listed about 4 benefits of scholarship link building strategy to get you on that horse quick and fast.

First, through this strategy, if your scholarship campaign is effected successfully, you would surely get a large amount of “.edu” backlinks. As you can see below on one of our client’s website.

screenshot of websites .edu backlinks from ahrefs

Second, you get a lot of free and high-quality content to publish on your site.

A lot of scholarship pages request candidates to present an industry-relevant essay as a portion of their application. This way, you would be able to distinguish a worthy scholarship winner and get a lot of new written content to publish on your site. This would then help to enhance your general SEO strategy.

Third, it also helps enhance your local SEO.

Most educational institutions that decide to provide a link on their website are usually local. Usually, when looking for “.edu” links, you would be targeting institutions in your local so being linked to institutions near your business help better your searching ranking for local results. Also, institutions would be more enticed by your link request seeing it’s focused locally than a broader population.

Fourth, it helps boost your reputation in the community.

Picture it this way, you’re going to be helping many individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their dreams.

You can imagine that this would be a major PR opportunity for your brand. Although the thought of carrying the cost of a scholarship might seem daunting, as with many other brands, it helps to look at the bigger picture and see where this act would place you.

And if well done, it can turn into a full-on digital marketing campaign to make a big deal out of your support for education.

Is It Still Useful In 2020?

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A current case study was carried out in the last quarter of 2018 to find out the effect of this strategy. So, going against Google’s advice, a rogue set out to see if this strategy still had any effect.

In consequence, he made his scholarship page and made some research. At the end of this, he had 200 schools and contacts to get back to.

Our experimenter here decided to send out 200 cold emails rather than dedicate some time and effort into them which would have probably given better results.

Out of all, he got 24 responses and 12 out of that 24 ended up adding links to their scholarship page.

Now, due to saturation, the response rate has become lower, but it is still a respectable 6%.

So, yes, it is still useful in 2020 as even that 6% can go a long way.

So, don’t hesitate to use this tactic to get backlinks from a scholarship link building campaign in 2020.

Are The BackLinks DoFollow?

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About 10 years ago, in the beginning, when a person first thought of the idea of building links with scholarships, university departments most likely did not know better than to give DoFollow links to any person that sent them a mail.

This process caused a lot of SEOs to cash out big time and therefore, it became a public service to some and a secret weapon to some others.

But as we see it today, SEO is becoming more popular and easily accessible to the public, hence, a lot of departments that own websites are likely more acquainted with some basic SEO.

They, also, most likely know of Google guidelines that show that you should stay away from followable links to low quality or unimportant sites. Or they should know anyway.

So, we took it upon ourselves to search the internet for university websites that still offer links to clear link-building schemes.

According to this research, out of 20 university sites that had links to closely related scholarship sites, 19 out of the 20 had DoFollow Links for all the scholarship links.

Also, check out this screenshot of one of our websites .edu backlinks:

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That is a huge 95% rate of followable links. This also proves a sort of conclusive result that scholarship link building campaigns in 2020 will still gain significant backlinks.

Why Should You Choose It?

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We still have some convincing to do, don’t we?

We’re here to show you why you should venture this tactic using its various advantages.

First, you get backlinks from high – DA, authoritative “.edu” websites as well as user-generated content for your website.

Next, you get a clearly defined target list with easy-to-find contact information as well as an efficient, templated outreach.

Lastly, it helps to brand goodwill among your local community, industry, and customer base.

We believe these reasons are more than enough to convince you to jump on the scholarship link building train.

How Would These Links Impact Your SEO?

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You may not know this, but. 99.2% of all top results in Google contain external backlinks.

We also know how significant backlinks are for defeating competitive keywords. But we cannot forget the context and anchor test.

The location of your link on the page matters a lot. The higher it is, the greater its value.

Also, In-content links outrank roundup/sidebar/directory style links. And this matters whether or not the page is relevant to the link.

As seen, scholarship mostly universally build directory/round-up style links. This could, in the worst case, penalize your site.

In the end, this is a strong sign of “link schemes” while it goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Also, some factors that will probably offset some of these outcomes include the domain authority and trustworthiness of major college sites.

Although, for a couple of some more obscure universities, the links may end up being tossed or forgotten completely by Google’s post-Penguin 4.0 algorithm.

Lastly, if Google has stopped the penalizing of sites and pages because of low-quality backlinks, we really cannot imagine the fact that these types of links were not affected by the rollout of Penguin 4.0.

Can You Get Links From Sound Universities & Colleges?

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As noticed, the targets of most of these campaigns seem to be smaller institutions. These are usually community colleges, international or faith-specific universities and so on. 

Now, you’re probably wondering whether you can get extremely high authority backlinks from sound universities in 2020.

While researching, a little something caught our eye. We noticed that most sound and reputable universities had altered their approach to external scholarships on their website.

A lot of high repute universities like Cornell University among others recently started linking to trackable portals and admonished students to look out for shady deals.

But with a bit more research, we found that Rutgers University still links to a vast array of random scholarship sites.

So, according to this research, not only can you get backlinks but you can also get backlinks from very high profile schools with a lot of domain authority to spare using this tactic.

How Much Is A Scholarship Link Building Campaign?

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In the same case study as cited above, the person gained 12 backlinks from a scholarship and 200 cold emails. More successful case studies in 2015 and 2016 achieved 100 and 47 each.

Hence, the ceiling in 2020 is most likely still way higher than 12.

But with an active campaign in 2020, it’ll be no surprise to easily hit around 30 or possibly more. In consequence, you could offer a scholarship worth $5,000 but end up paying much less per backlink.

However, it’s not a necessity to put in that much money to get the desired results.

As seen in the case studies, the 2015 case study netted about 100 backlinks with a set amount of $1,000.

 But if you dig through many scholarships linked to Rutgers, you’ll find a lot of scholarships only offering about $500.

So, yes, we’re telling you that you can run a successful campaign with just $500 set down. With this, you can net yourself a backlink from the domain with over 32 million backlinks.

What we mean is, if you just landed a single link from a sound university, you could get a backlink from a domain with a lot more than 200 times the inbound links/referring domains for less than one-sixth of the cost.

What Other Costs Are There In A Scholarship Campaign?

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This is quite unlike buying a link as it is not as simple as just emailing a couple of webmasters, negotiating a bit, paying up and gaining a quality backlink thrown in your face.

These expenses also depend on how much you decide to do with your elbow grease.

But you will have some additional expenses.

  • Creation and Writing cost for the Scholarship Page.
  • Compensation for Employee and Virtual Assistant who will implement Outreach program.
  • Remuneration for Employee and Virtual Assistant reviewing these Scholarship Applications.

But we hardly think these expenses would exceed $500 – $1,000. So, we would estimate your set back to about $1 – 2,000.

This is cheaper than buying any amount backlinks, and a lot of other SEO strategies at that.

So, if we’re looking at this from a worst-case scenario, if you have just 10 universities biting, you would still probably have an average of under $200 per backlink.

Now, we’ve established that it’s cheap but how would it impact the rankings of your site?

How Much Is It To Buy A Edu Backlink?

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A survey was carried out in 2018, and according to it, a single backlink will cost you an average of $361.44.

These prices are prices offered when you directly approach the website yourself instead of relying on third-party services. Also, these are usually disguised as guest posts.

The cheapest backlink was $50 in which case, the site had 13.4 thousand backlinks from 826 different referring domains.

While the most expensive one we noticed was $3,312 and in this case, had 115 thousand backlinks from 2.43 thousand referring domains.

A lot of other sites fell closer to the bottom end, this is in terms of price as well as domain authority.

Although, your experience with contacting webmasters with significant niches for your sites might be different. But this stands as a standard or reference point for what the prices should look like.

As a little tip, we must say that outright buying backlinks are not a white hat way of SEO. You may want to consider guest posts instead of buying backlinks.

The Approach and Process for Scholarship Link Building

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First, you need to define your goals. As with other marketing campaigns you undertake, your scholarship should have a purpose or an end that justifies the means.

So, asides the nice “.edu” referring domains, what are your secondary goals with the scholarship?

These goals will dictate the form of your scholarship submissions and the extent of your outreach. Your goals could be written content, video content, brand awareness and so on.

Second, you should publish your scholarship. This involves creating your scholarship materials and posting them on your website.

This includes having a scholarship landing page that explains the scholarship in detail and provides a general overview of entry requirements, rewards involved, submission deadline among others.

You should also link the legal aspect of the scholarship to the landing page itself. This means the clear and accessible submission requirements document which has been reviewed by your legal team.

Third, you should build your list. List creation for this tactic is considerably easier than with other forms of link building.

A lot of schools make their financial aid page easy to locate. So, all you need to do is make a list of all the schools in your target range. You should reach out to regular scholarship domains such as Fastweb.com, Scholarships.com among others.

The next thing you need to do is prepare your outreach email.

In this step, what you need to do is make your emails short and very clear. While doing this, you should also make sure you present all the necessary information financial aid offices require to post your scholarship.

Lastly, you’ll have to perform outreach which involves building links and adding more columns for school information, contact information, outreach note, link metrics. Then, select your winners and promote for a few more links.

A good tip for SEO – Write your scholarship page in such a way that in the first 100 words of this page you have one of your target keywords and internal link that page through that keyword so you get some link juice from your scholarship page.

You can use this email outreach template for your scholarship outreach.

Search Queries for Finding Universities Email Ids

Most of the schools, colleges, and universities have a dedicated email for scholarships on which they prefer emails related to scholarships and respond faster for such an email. So if you just email on any of their regular E-mails chances are they will not reply. So you can use the following search queries for finding the emails.

First, you should know the name of college or university of which you want the email of, then copy the URL of that website and enter anyone the following query:

“University name” + finaid@[url of website] {ex: finaid@ju.edu}

“University name” + scholarships@[url of website]

“University name” + financialaid@[url of website]

“University name” + sfs@[url of website]

“University name” + student.awards@[url of website]

“University name” + studentfinancialservices@[url of website]

“University name” + sfa-scholarships@[url of website]

“University name” + pfascholarships@[url of website]

or

“University name” + scholarship program

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I hope it will ease your work 🙂

What Are The Pros And Cons?

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So, the benefits of this tactic include but not limited to the fact that it brings in a lot of traffic, it can be used to increase awareness and credibility and it leads to better ranking in the Google search engine results.

It also helps your page to be indexed by Google faster.

Lastly, this effective link building attracts quality traffic.

Now, to the cons.

We can’t lie to you that it’s all fun and games as there would be rough times and obstacles to face.

The disadvantages include the fact that it is time-consuming, reciprocal links can take away your visitors and you can be penalized by Google if not used properly.

It can also lead to inbound links from pages with a poor ranking, which would hit your rankings in a very bad way.

Lastly, it is punishable if overdone.

Now, even though scholarship link building has its disadvantages, we believe the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages. So, we still recommend jumping on that train.

List Of Emails Ids For Scholarship Link Building

To reduce work we have collected a few email ids of universities where we can submit your scholarship and get a live link faster.

Though these are just a few emails that will help you get started with scholarship link building. You can use search engines and the queries we have mentioned above to search for more email id like this.

scholarship emails

Conclusion

We have come to the end of this little article and we hope we were able to fruitfully execute our job in convincing you.

While we admit this tactic involves a lot of trial and error, following a step-by-step plan of action when embarking on your campaign, would give you only the best results. 

As concluded by the essay, scholarship link building deems itself more affordable than buying links straight up. Also, it costs you much less blood, sweat, tears than a harder technique like the skyscraper technique.

A lot of businesses even say that the links will seem unimportant and not even get picked in the rankings at all. But we beg to differ as there will be.

Who knows, you may be able to attract some local press by taking a distinct take on the application process. This would then drive more backlinks, quite likely to your home page.

So yes, there is a lot of work if you’re planning to embark on this journey but the possible ROI that will follow a backlink profile graced with some “.edu” links could be huge.

Image source: Freepik.com