This week, Google launched an expansion and improvement of sitelinks. These are hyperlinks to subpages on websites that show up under Google listings. These sitelinks are added by Google, NOT the website owner. This means that the site owner has little control over what happens with these hyperlinks, which are supposed to help users navigate their sites.
Google Describes Sitelinks
Here’s how Google describes sitelinks: “When you’re searching, you often have a specific task in mind, like figuring out which exhibits are showing at a nearby museum. Despite this narrow goal, people often start with a broad query, like [metropolitan museum of art], with no mention of exhibits. For those searches, the first result may include a list of links to specific sections of the site, which are called ‘sitelinks…’ It turns out that sitelinks are quite useful because they can help predict which sections of the site you want to visit.”
So, What Has Changed?
Sitelinks only appear if Google thinks that they will be useful – this has not changed. What has changed, however, are the visual elements of the sitelinks, as well as the value of them to the Google user. These links will be easier to see, as there is now “full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text.” Additionally, the maximum number of sitelinks is no longer eight. Now, the maximum is 12.
The algorithm for sitelinks has also changed. This will impact the way sitelinks appear to each Google user, as Google says “the number of sitelinks will…vary based on your query.” Additionally, in an effort to bring users higher-quality lists of sitelinks, the algorithm will utilize typical ranking methods to rank better sites’ sitelinks higher than others. According to Google, “Now, all results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks, and all results from other sites will appear below them.”
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