When I first noticed Google sitelinks a couple of years ago or so, I was thoroughly amazed at Google’s ever-improving innovation to simplify the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). I thought the Sitelinks provide great value to the search user by allowing him/her to pick one of the relevant sub-pages directly from the SERPs so that he/she doesn’t need to search twice or thrice (or click several times) before arriving at the desired page.
However, in the past years, Google has not really worked on improving this great feature to provide more flexibility to the webmasters in order to customize their sitelinks. Before digging into that, let’s first understand what are Google sitelinks.
Sitelinks are additional links to the sub-pages of a site that Google automatically adds to the search results. For example, when I search for my employer (SAP) in Google, I got the following additional information as part of the main search result URL and description (See the picture). These links are definitely sub-domains or sub-pages that Google diggs out using its own secret methods.
How to get Google sitelinks for my site?
As I mentioned, in the definition above, Google picks and adds these sup-pages automatically and that is the first problem we have with sitelinks. All that Google provides is a mechanism to remove (rather block) them via Google Webmaster Tools (via Site configuration -> Sitelinks). I recently blocked a couple of my sitelinks as I thought they don’t really portray my blog well.
Secondly, sitelinks are not added for relatively new sites or blogs and nobody knows how long before your site gets some sitelinks. And what’s even more worrying is the fact that the random pages that it picks do not necessarily represent the site well. Unimportant site links listed on SERPs can reduce the click-through-rate and hits to your site. Ideally, Google should have added more standard pages (about page, contact, services…) to sitelinks but this is not the case with most blogs though in general it is true for some corporate websites.
If done properly (via some manual addition process), though, sitelinks would have been a great brand building place for the webmasters. Probably Google is waiting to solve all shortcomings it might have with sitelinks (or even waiting to monetize it – just like an advanced version of AdWords or sponsored listing). If manual addition is an option, they have to worry about spam and potential threat to their already existing SEM products as well.
More about Google sitelinks
Though I am not completely sure on how to help Google find your right sitelinks, I figured out the following by looking at what Google lists for most sites.
- Sitelinks are shown only when the SERPs list your home URL. They don’t appear when sub-pages are thrown as part of result set
- Google usually tries to find some standard sub pages (about, contact) for corporate websites and big brands to list them there
- For blogs, it seems to pick pages/posts that have good hit ratios from search. Most of these pages are well indexed with good PR as well
- Number of backlinks to sitelinks pages do not seem to count at all, at least in my experience
- Sitelinks are added periodically (at max 8 or so) and hence they keep changing from time to time
Over to you…
Google Sitelinks is a topic that I haven’t explored too much yet. Please let me know if any of you have figured out how to get sitelinks for your site or blog. Even before that, have you ever checked your sitelinks at all?