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Understanding Google’s new sitelinks

Google's new sitelinksOn August 16, 2011 Google announced the newest version of sitelinks. Sitelinks are links to pages on a website that are displayed below the link description on the search results page. Google explains that often times a broad search term is used even though a specific action is intended. If you search for a local pizza shop, your intention may be to order online. You enter “Ann Arbor pizza” as your query. The local pizza parlor shows up with a sitelink reading “Order Online.” You click the sitelink and go directly to their online ordering system. Now that cheesy goodness can get to your house in fewer clicks!

How do sitelinks work? Google first must determine that there is a strong likelihood that you are searching for a specific site. Say you enter “the met” as your search query. Google assumes you are trying to get information about The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It will then display several sitelinks referring to The Met. The more confident Google is that you are searching for that specific site, the more sitelinks they will display. Currently sitelinks are automatically populated by Google. You can influence which pages on your site show up as sitelinks but Google will have the final say.

So what does this mean for your site? Say there is space for ten organic results in Google’s search results page. If someone searches for the name of your company, Google may show links from your site in the top eight results. With the new sitelinks, Google could now take several of those results and include them within their two column sitelinks. Now you have the top result, six sitelinks, and then one more organic link below the sitelinks (equaling the original eight). This now creates more space for other results such as news articles or other mentions of your company on the first page of results.

It is now even more important to monitor what results are showing up for your company’s branded terms. Results that had a lower ranking may now be displayed on the first page of results. Monitoring blogs and news results is one way to keep an eye on what pages may be displayed. Make sure your company is actively sharing and promoting good press and reviews. This can help ensure your company has a positive presence on page one.

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About Eric Wortman

Eric Wortman is a PPC analyst at Pure Visibility. He specializes in ads for Search, Social, Mobile, as well as Local SEO. Eric is founding co-chair of SEMPO Michigan and an experienced speaker. He lives in sunny downtown Ann Arbor and is good at soccer, excellent on Facebook, and horrible at photography. You can find him on Google+.

2 Responses to "Understanding Google’s new sitelinks"

  • Chad Wiebesick
    September 10, 2011 - 11:33 am Reply

    Good post, Eric. Nice to see it get recognized by Mediapost.

  • Kentaro
    September 18, 2011 - 7:53 pm Reply

    I agree, a lot of online marketing companies focus solely on non-branded keywords. However as marketers we have a responsibility to not only get greater visibility for our clients but to ensure that users who searched for branded keywords found what they wanted and converted. Good post!

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