How to Use Government Data for Link Development

Chess Link StrategyAll the data you need to create linkable material is provided by governments around the world for free. One just needs to do some research, make it interesting, and promote it.

This is a follow-up to my column about using public information for link building. This time I’m going to focus on data from open government web sites. You can find data sources here where it’s categorized by international, state, city, and agencies.


If you’re trying to get links from sites covering your industry like news, bloggers, or associations, this is a good strategy. News oriented sites are always looking for fresh research, insights, or studies. Getting coverage on such sites dramatically increases your chances of having the story picked up by a mainstream news outlet.

To get started you could hire someone to do traditional research to spot trends, irregularity, or insights in the data. Let’s say you’re in the educational sector.

Here are some data sources on federal student aid. They deal with everything ranging from application volume to loan amounts to work-study programs.

Below is a sample of what some of that data looks like:


One could do a study of the average work study grant amounts comparing public and private colleges. Then bring in data on graduation rates to look for a trend.

On a low budget? There are many graduate students and reporters looking for work. There is also the option to team up with a local university for a class project.


These are simply combining data from more than once source into a single site or application. Here’s an example of one tracking infectious diseases around the world with Google Maps.

A good way to approach a mashup is to come up with something that solves a problem, helps people find something, or makes a task easier. Find a common problem or complaint, then create a mashup to solve it.

You could start the research in discussion forums. Then do keyword research to get an estimate of demand.

If you don’t have an in-house developer, hire a freelance programmer for the project. oDesk and eLance are two good sources.

The advantage of this strategy is it can be done as a mobile application. That provides more exposure with the possibility of it going viral quicker. Learn more about mobile apps for link development.


Humor and satire spread quickly on the web. If your company’s willing to embrace humor, or even get into political topics, this is a good way to go. Of course this will require some serious creativity. One approach is to take unrelated data, and make a correlation. A bit of satire would be helpful here.

Let’s say your company sells pet products. You could create a mashup comparing divorce rates by state with pet ownership. Maybe there are more divorces with dog owners than cat owners, or vice verse. It’s not the funniest idea, but you get the gist.

Whichever strategy you take, it needs to be promoted. Use every promotional method available to increase your chances of success.

The sources of data to create highly linkable material is provided by governments around the world. You just need to find interesting ways to present it, and then promote it.

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