Sitelinks: Google could do more about it

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-google-sample-screenshotSitelinks 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?

Comments

  1. Divyun @ Webmasters blog :

    I think sitelinks is a wonderful feature which gives more exposure to a relevant site. I suppose when a site has more than one reference to a keyword then that’s when these appear.
    eg. When I search for “divyun.com” it results with my site at the top with the sitelinks because it has lots of reference to divyun.com. lol

  2. Yes. Sometimes Google is showing unwanted pages in sitelinks.

  3. I have been observing strange developments in sitelinks. When I was new to blogging, sitelinks used to appear only for first result. Then started site based search feature added below sitelinks for high authority sites. Later on they introduced single line sitelinks for comparatively low authority sites / pages. Now I see sitelinks appear even for non 1st result on SERP, and single line sitelinks appear even on following result pages.

    I have also observed sites which have got sitelinks for single page. Like wikipedia and all, the internal page navigation links (anchors like top, bottom, history, links which stay in a single page etc).

    Google should concentrate on providing sitelinks in a faster way when we block a link on wm tools.

  4. sitelinks is an awesome feature of Google..i wonder when will my blog get sitelinks….

  5. Raju :

    I completely agree with you here. Sitelinks is still a mystery for most webmasters. It picks up some weird anchor texts from posts which have hardly got any traffic.

  6. But it is depend upon the web owners whether he likes or not.
    For me site links are best.

  7. Google has a really random way of assigning sitelinks, mine are not at all the core posts or pages. Moreover those pages are no the ones that get traffic either. Doesn’t really help in branding.

  8. Ajith, One more great post.

    I would like google to have a feature in WebMasters where you can actually suggest them to add so on so link to Site Links. Instead they pick randomly…

    What do you think?

  9. @Divyun, That’s great.. You should be getting sitelinks for other keyword searches as well :)

    @BlogrPro, exactly… the problem is that there’s no way to tell Google which one to list. Google provides us option only to delete some links.

    @Pavan, thanks for summarizing the evolution of sitelinks. Personally I believe that it gives a very good consolidated view of a site if done properly.

    @Tushar, it doesn’t take too long before you get there

    @Raju, ‘mystery’ is the right term for sitelinks :)

    @Suresh, we all like it…only if they were showing good links…

    @Arun, same for me… But I checked out shoutmeloud… Google has listed his about page, services etc

    @Nihar, that’s what.. The Google Webmaster Tools should have some option for the same…

  10. Ajith, simplified language & engaging description of interesting feature, sure one with open eyes will be able to take advantage of it, great value to your viewers!

  11. The great thing about Google ios that they listen, and if enough people harp on a common subject they will pay attention to it. Perhaps getting the sitelinks you’d like visible on the returned searech engine results entail building quality links to the targeted pages. We know their algorithm is driven by links, big time.

  12. Google has indexed all the pages of my website but search results do not show any side links. I think, it has to do something with site map.

  13. I have sitelinks to my blog too. I got them after nearly 8 months of blogging. I think it also depends on the amount of time your blog title is searched for.

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