Giving back to your community in any way is always a good thing which may result in good backlinks. However, there are spammy, outdated methods of running a scholarship program which may not help your rankings.
The “Old Way” of Scholarship Linkbuilding.
Around 2010, personal injury law firms in competitive cities found a new way to score some high authority .EDU backlinks. They ran a scholarship. These scholarships are alive and well today.
In general, an SEO agency would create a scholarship for around $1000 and call it the “John Smith Law Personal Injury Scholarship”. Then, they would reach out to dozens or hundreds of colleges and ask them to post the scholarship on their “external scholarships” page. If and when the college complied – boom! Backlink.
While this is indeed a link from a powerful site to your site, the link:
- Lacks context
- Lacks topic relevance
- Lacks geographic relevance
- Is just sitting on a page of links to 300 other websites
While Google will not penalize these types of links, they are indeed in a grey area. Of course, Google can’t penalize a site simply for doing nice things or giving college kids cash. But, as time has gone on, Google definitely ignores certain types of links for the reasons mentioned above.
10/2021 Update: I recently discovered that Google is on record clarifying that these types of links are ignored:
Niche Scholarships are Where It’s At.
A couple of good examples of niche scholarships I’ve seen recently include:
- A female attorney offering a scholarship for female college students entering law school
- A scholarship which is available only to seniors in one city
- A scholarship for children of veterans
Backlinks to these niche scholarships often come from unique, local websites. Instead of just plastering the web’s .EDU sites, you’ll end up obtaining links from good, untapped, local websites.
One niche scholarship we assist a law firm with each year offers local students $500 if their short essay is selected. Since it is laser focused on their city, applicants tell us they heard about from their high school’s website, the school counselor, in newsletters, on church bulletin boards, by grandparents, etc… The list goes on. Backlinks to this niche scholarship came from a local homeschooling group and the local high schools. Each niche scholarship presents opportunities to obtain a backlink from other local websites in the same niche.
Aside from the backlinks, it’s just a nice, fun thing to do, and the local word of mouth has been very surprising. Principals, teachers, counselors, parents, grandparents, etc have been telling students “Hey, check out this law firm’s scholarship!” No only are they now familiar with the firm, they’ve associated it positively in their head and they’ll remember that in the future. Also, hundreds of local 18yr olds learn f the firm each year, and they’ll likely need legal assistance one day.
Are Scholarship Backlinks Good For SEO?
While it’s impossible to tell which links help, yes, backlinks for scholarships most definitely move the needle. We’ve seen much less of an impact from the .EDU sites since around 2016, however, many of the links do help. Obtaining local links from other .ORG and .COM sites definitely help.
Do You Need Backlinks?
We provide linkbuilding for some of the largest law firms in the USA and can develop a winning strategy for your law firm. If you want to rank better in Google where prospective clients are looking for an attorney, contact us today.