EDU domain registration is known for being very hard to acquire, but it comes with its own benefits. But what is an EDU domain? EDU is a top level domain, or a TLD, in the domain name system of the internet. Some examples of other top level domains or .com, .int, .net, .org, .gov (specifically held for the government), and .mil (specifically held for the military.)
Each top level domain serves a specific purpose. For example, .org is typically used by nonprofit organizations and .int is for intergovernmental organizations. This article will discuss everything you need to know about EDU Domain registrations.
History of EDU Domain Registration
There is some history you need to know about EDU domain registration. The EDU domain was originally meant to be available for anyone who had the means to educate all over the world. However, most of the domains that took EDU resided in the United States anyway. Until 2001, The United States Department of Commerce was in charge of giving out all EDU domains. However, Educause has been the registrar for all EDU domains since 2001. Now, EDU domain registration is charged with a yearly administration fee and it can only be obtained by universities and college systems in the United States.
Sites that were already eligible for EDU domain registration before 2001 are now considered “grandfather domains.” Such sites do not have to follow the current rules for EDU domain registration, but still have to pay the yearly fees.
EDU Domain Requirements
To be eligible for EDU Domain registration, you’ll have to fulfill the requirements as posted on the Educause website. We’ll list them here anyway.
As mentioned earlier in the article, to be eligible for an EDU domain registration, you must be an accredited US based postsecondary institution. That’s a lot of big words in a tiny sentence so we’ll break it down for you. To be accredited means to be recognized by the United States Department of Education. They hold the list of the United States nationally recognized accrediting agencies. And yes, the entire school or campus must be accredited, not just a single program. Examples of postsecondary institutions are universities, community colleges, and other entities with similar purposes. However, highschools, middle schools, elementary schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and similar entities are not eligible for an EDU domain registration. Each entity may only be registered under one EDU domain.
Grandfathered EDU Domains
The only exception to this eligibility rules are the grandfathered domains, who were registered before Educause took control of EDU domain registration. If you do not fall under any of these two categories, it is impossible to obtain an EDU domain to avoid violating the terms of the cooperative agreement.
If you are eligible for an EDU domain registration, you must make sure that the domain is unique (has not been used before by anybody else) but it must also be similar to or represent the name of your institution and it should not be a general name. The Educause website actually has a useful “look up tool” so you can easily determine if the name you desire is available.
Note that your institution does not have to join Educause in order to be eligible for an EDU domain registration and is unrelated to any names you may hold in other top level domains. It is also illegal to sell or lease your edu domain to anyone else. If you are caught violating the cooperative agreement, your EDU domain will be revoked if not corrected within 45 days of notification.
Benefits of an EDU Domain
That being said, there are many benefits to obtaining an EDU domain. It actually has a supply and demand theory to it. Because not everybody can be eligible for an EDU domain registration, that instantly makes it more valuable to have.
Also, considering that only specific postsecondary institutions can obtain EDU domains, they are considered to be very credible sources, sometimes even if they are “undeserving.” Because of its credibility, more people will click on the site, and because more people click on the site to use it as citation for their research and theories, it will establish more credibility. It is an endless cycle of SEO.
If you are eligible for an EDU domain registration, you should definitely take the chance because it is actually prioritized in Google searches. Having an EDU domain automatically improves your Google rankings as opposed to other top level domains (with the exception of .gov domains.)
Anyone affiliated or registered with the organization that holds the EDU domain can also receive an EDU email. This is especially beneficial for students and professors, because an EDU email will often come with many discounts and deals at stores. For example, Amazon gives out free Amazon Prime memberships to students who show proof of having a .edu email.
Beneficial For Other Domains Too!
We know that not everyone is eligible for EDU domain registration. But EDU domains can actually benefit other domain holders as well! Most postsecondary institutions have student-run blogs, and any blog writer will include external links for their search engine optimization since it’s a big part of on-site SEO. These students may reach out to your company and ask you about linking a page from your site into their blog. Since students know that being linked to an EDU site is valuable, they’ll probably sell it to you instead of just asking. However, know that your link will appear under www.saiduniversity.edu/student blog and not www.saiduniversity.edu.
How often will I even be presented with an opportunity like that? To tell you the truth, not so often. However, linking goes both ways. You should try and link an EDU domain into your company’s blog (if you have one) because it will still be recognized by Google, and ultimately improve your rankings.
Don’t Have EDU Access?
Having an EDU domain is great, but if you can’t be eligible for one, don’t sweat it. There are other opportunities for your business to still succeed and show up on Google.
If you are still an education company or have an education site, there are still numerous ways to go about educational digital marketing and be considered legitimate, as well as improve your Google rankings. Some methods to implement are:
- PPC Advertising
- Social Media Advertising
- Link Building
- Google My Business
- Content Creation
- Website Development
You may also want to consider getting a professional SEO analysis. SEO Design Chicago provides ongoing SEO consulting and optimization with proven digital marketing strategies and on-site and off-site SEO strategies. SEO Design Chicago helped one national education organization increase their organic search results by 294 percent!
Target Other Domains
You can always target the COM domain since it is used for commercial purposes and is widely recognized. However, you may also want to consider gTLD’s (generic top level domains). Generic top level domains give you the opportunity to choose a domain that best describes your business. This is also an option if the domain name you want has already been taken and is being used with a top level domain. Some example of generic top level domains are:
And there are thousands of more! A great alternation for the EDU domain is the EDUCATION gTLD. It sounds too good to be true, but it actually does exist, and would perfectly represent an education website. Make sure you choose a gTLD that actually makes sense for your website. A tv company choosing the UNIVERSITY domain would make no sense at all, and would not help your rankings.
Google even claims to have changed their algorithm to recognize most of these gTLDS, so they will definitely help in SEO and higher rankings. Plus, if someone were to just search the domain, your site will come up (if other SEO tactics are implemented properly.)
EDU Domains and SEO Design Chicago
Whether you’re eligible for an EDU domain registration or not, SEO Design Chicago can help. SEO is necessary to ensure the success of any website, regardless of its domain. Contact us for a consultation today.