Government Sources of SEO Content - dummies

By Peter Kent

Government sources for website content are huge, with a surprising range of information. They can provide a lot of search-engine friendly content for your website. In general, documents created by the U.S. federal government are in the public domain. Under the terms of Title 17 United States Code section 105, works created by U.S. government departments do not have copyright protection.

However, you should be aware of some important exceptions:

  • The government may still hold copyrights on works that have been given to the government — bequests or assignments of some kind.

  • The law is a U.S. law, making U.S. government works copyright free. Most other governments hold copyrights on their works.

  • In some cases, works that nongovernmental agencies create on behalf of the government may not be protected by copyright — the law isn’t clear.

  • Works created by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) may have a limited, five-year copyright protection.

  • The United States Postal Service is exempt from these regulations. The Postal Service can have copyright protection for its works. (It doesn’t want people printing their own stamps!)

  • In some cases, the government may publish works that were originally privately created works. Such documents are copyright protected.

Even with these exceptions, vast quantities of juicy government content are available. Now, don’t think, “Oh, there probably aren’t any government documents related to my area!” Maybe; maybe not. Where do you think all the tax billions go? The money can’t all go to defense and schools. It has to be spent somehow, so some of it goes to creating vast amounts of web content!

You can place this content directly on your website. You’ll find the content in web pages or Adobe Acrobat PDF files; you’ll probably want to convert PDF files to HTML.

You will find not only useful documents for your purposes (text-heavy documents that search engines can read) but also other materials that may be useful for your site, such as videos.

Here are a few good places to find government materials:

Or, just try this search syntax: your keywords. For instance, typing rodent racing tells the search engine to search within .gov domains only for rodent racing. (A lot of search results are returned for that search, though, surprisingly, very little is returned when you search for “rodent racing”.)