Have you noticed one or more links displayed underneath a website listing in Google’s search results?
Known as “sitelinks,” they are commonly found in popular, high-traffic listings. But what exactly is the purpose of these links? And how do you change the Google sitelinks that appear for your website’s listing?
Benefits of Using Sitelinks
There are a number of reasons why webmasters should embrace the use of Google sitelinks, one of which is because it takes up a greater amount of search engine real estate. Listings with sitelinks are typically larger than listings without sitelinks; therefore, fewer websites can be displayed on a single page when they are present.
Of course, another benefit of using sitelinks is the simple fact that it will yield more traffic to your website, funneling visitors to specific internal pages rather than guiding everyone to the homepage. If you Google the keyword “Amazon,” for instance, you’ll notice several different sitelinks such as “Books,” “Your Account,” “Amazon Prime, and “Shop by Department.” Users can click these links to visit the respective category, bypassing the site’s internal navigation system.
How To Get Sitelinks
Since Google determines what sitelinks show up for your site or, if in fact, they show up at all there is no clear path in creating sitelinks. That being said, there are two fundamental items that will increase the likelihood that you have relevant sitelinks appear under your listing and those are:
- A clear navigational hierarchy of top tier and sub category pages.
- A substantial amount of page for Google to crawl.
While I’m certain that there are many other considerations that Google’s algorithm uses to determine what links show, I am also certain that these two factors consistently play a large role. Ecommerce websites are a good case in point. 99.9% of every brand new ecommerce site we launch immediately indexes with sitelinks as shown below.
Controlling Your Sitelinks
Unfortunately, webmasters have very little control over their Google sitelinks. Google has almost complete control over websites’ sitelinks, and therefore it may choose to display them or it may not. Generally speaking, it’s the popular, high-traffic websites that receive sitelinks.
“At the moment, sitelinks are automated. We’re always working to improve our sitelinks algorithms, and we may incorporate webmaster input in the future,” wrote Google in its explanation of sitelinks. “There are best practices you can follow, however, to improve the quality of your sitelinks. For example, for your site’s internal links, make sure you use anchor text and alt text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition.”
Although you cannot specify which links you wish to be shown as sitelinks, you can discourage Google from showing certain links by demoting them in your Google Webmaster Tools account. While logged into your account, choose your website and click “Sitelinks” under “Search Appearance,” and then enter the URL or URLs of any link that you do not want to appear in your site’s listing. Keep in mind that this is only a recommendation, and Google may not abide by your wishes.
Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of Google’s sitelinks and how they work.