Sitelinks are the additional links visible below the main URL of the search results on Google. These are used to provide the users with easy access to different Web pages within your main website. The primary purpose of sitelinks is to help users seamlessly navigate through your website.
Here’s an example:
Sitelink extensions, similar in intent, are mainly used in Google Adwords. However, sitelink extensions differ from organic sitelinks as users of AdWords completely control the content in these links and whether or not they appear in the ad.
Types of Sitelinks
Organic sitelinks are majorly used for branded terms and can have up to six sitelinks on various pages within your website. These sitelinks mostly appear on the highest-ranking search results.
It is a common phenomenon that a user who might have searched for your website is not looking to land on the homepage of your website directly. They might be looking to land on another Web page within your website, which is relevant to their search text. Google organic sitelinks provide users with a direct link to these web pages that are relevant to their search terms. This also helps users to explore your website and discover content that they weren’t aware existed on it. This increases the number of organic clicks on your website.
One-line sitelinks are a popular form of sitelinks. These can contain up to four links and can appear on various types of search queries. One-line sitelinks differ from others in that they can lead users to other Web pages or jump to specific content within a Web page directly, using fragmented links. Websites often use these to move the user directly to the page that has information about the relevant search term.
Sitelinks search box
Mostly used by big brands, sitelinks search box is a type of sitelink that helps users request and directly access the search results of the website on the SERP itself. It is automatically added to the results by Google. However, businesses must know that having a sitelink search box on the homepage doesn’t guarantee that it will also appear on Google’s search results.
In addition to organic sitelinks, you can also have paid sitelink extensions appear in advertisements. Unlike organic ones, where you cannot control their appearance, in paid sitelinks, you get complete control over the text and URL on your ads. Furthermore, paid sitelinks do not depend on Google’s algorithms or your site’s content.
What Google changed about sitelinks
Until October 2016, Google allowed site owners to have minuscule control over the sitelinks they could present for their website, with the specific pages that they wanted. This was allowed by Google because the Google Search Console provided site owners with the “demote sitelinks” feature. Using this feature, site owners could hint to Google which particular URLs they didn’t want to appear under their main URL as sitelinks.
However, later in 2016, Google Webmaster announced that they would be removing the “Demote Sitelinks” feature from the Google Search Console. They said that
“Over the years, our algorithms have gotten much better at finding, creating, and showing relevant sitelinks, and so we feel it’s time to simplify things.”
They elaborated on this by clarifying that Google shows sitelinks to the users in the search results only when the algorithms think they’ll be useful to them. Hence, the structure of your website and website navigation will play a key role in getting Google’s algorithms to detect and display good sitelinks. Sitelinks are now displayed on search results based on their Web ranking. This means that site owners can influence the Web rankings of sitelinks just like in the case of other Web pages.
Check what Matt Cutts has to say about Sitelinks
Why are Sitelinks important?
Improves click-through rate
Sitelinks are very efficient in improving the click-through rates of Web pages. In a recent study, it was reported that sitelinks could boost the click-through rate for the top results by over 20%. For your SERP listing, you can have as many as six sitelinks associated with your URL. This means that your search result can take four-five times the space given to other SERP results on a desktop. On mobile devices, a site linked result can even take the entire screen! This proves to be a very effective method in improving your click-through rates.
Helps in product awareness
Another great advantage of sitelinks is that they are an effective medium for generating product awareness with the users. Sitelinks can be used by businesses to link the most important pages within your website, which are also the most revenue-generating. In most cases, these sitelinks are the products or services pages on your website. This makes sitelinks a very effective way of making the users aware of your products and services, while subsequently, enhancing your brand awareness.
Enables users to navigate more
Whenever a user clicks the main URL, there is a fair chance that they will only browse through the most important pages, i.e., the homepage, product page, and services page. It is unlikely that they will visit your blog pages or open up your popular blog posts. With sitelinks, this issue is taken care of, as these can drive a good amount of traffic to important resource pages.
Sitelinks can be considered as Google’s stamp of approval. It shows that Google values your website and thinks you offer quality information. Google’s sitelinks take up a large part of the above-the-fold area of the SERP, essentially pushing other results below.
How to get Sitelinks for your Website?
Structure the Data
When you provide structured data about your website, you help Google understand your organization better. By structured data, we mean snippets or schema. It is like giving Google a cheat sheet about the menus you want it to consider while indexing – your homepage, contact forms, search box and more.
Sometimes, if you are not a pro-coder, adding breadcrumbs or tweaking your code can seem daunting, and that’s why there’s SchemaPro that can do all the vital work for you (mainly for WordPress users).
Submit a Clear Sitemap
The site structure plays a very crucial role in determining if your website receives sitelinks or not. You should not only provide your site visitors with an easy-to-understand site, but also provide Google with a well-structured sitemap.
Search engines work by crawling and indexing your website. The crawlers land on your main URL and proceed to the various sections and links on your site – they look into your XML sitemap, content and links on your menu. An XML sitemap lets Google crawl into your site better.
With a sitemap, you tell Google which are the essential pages on your site, and Google will start its process by responding to the traffic these pages receive. Submit your store’s sitemap on Google Search Console’s sitemaps link.
Website Structure is Crucial
Your website’s architecture is also crucial to your overall Google PageRank standings. If your website has a flat architecture, Google will be forced to rely on other aspects of your website to display the sitelinks.
On the other hand, if you have a clear structure – a proper hierarchy – you help Google’s crawlers find their way. If you do not have good interlinking on your website, Google will not see these pages, and they might as well not exist.
The homepage is typically the first page Google crawlers visit, and from there, they navigate to the other pages. So, it is essential to have a well-structured navigable website with a clear logic in its organization.
Focus on Internal Linking
Sitelinks help users navigate easily to various sections of your website, so having sound internal linking helps in this regard.
The rules in interlinking are quite simple –
While creating internal links, make sure to use proper anchor texts. Show Google your priority pages by building more links to those pages. If a page has more links, Google is more likely to sitelink that page.
Try Noindex Tags
Noindex pages will be removed from the site link. It might not be the best way to control the sitelinks, however, if you want to remove a link from appearing in the sitelink, you could try the indexing tags.
Google removed the ‘demote sitelinks’ settings from its Search Console, essentially refraining websites from using this option. However, if you want to exercise the option, you should try the ‘noindex’ meta tag, which removes the link entirely from Google’s search.
Keep the Headings Unique and Descriptive
As far as on-page optimization is concerned, the title tag is the most critical piece of the SEO puzzle. A good title is descriptive of the content on the page and should sync with the visitors’ search queries
Sometimes, even a simple change – like changing your ‘Contact Us’ page title into something like ‘Get in touch with us now’ is enough to confuse Google about the intent and content on the page.
Keep it simple, and do not go overboard with creativity.
Always keep the headings unique as two different pages having similar headings is also enough to confuse Google’s crawlers. They might end up showing both pages as sitelinks, essentially wasting a sitelink spot that could be used for other unique products.
Add important pages to your sidebar for earning site links
Having a sidebar on your web pages is a good way to promote the content present on your website. Websites usually leverage sidebars to add internal links that help in the seamless transit of users from one web page to another. Moreover, having accurate site links works excellently for your on-page and technical SEO.
Google finds these links beneficial for attaining information as they are direct and help users get relevant information more quickly. Therefore, every website should utilise a sidebar for adding internal sitelinks to important pages of their website.
Add a table of contents for long posts
Online viewers always appreciate websites that include a table of contents in their blogs. A table of content makes it easier for the audience to find the relevant information they came for searching on your website. It makes your website trustworthy and also enhances the chances of getting sitelinks for your posts.
Optimise for technical and on-page SEO
Google is continually improving its ways to provide information to its users. In order to keep your website listed at the top of Google search results, it is vital to work on your on-page SEO and technical SEO. These factors greatly enhance the quality of your website content and ensure that Google finds your site useful every time a user searches their query.
Rank High for Popular Searches
Although this is at the end of this list, it is an essential prerequisite to ensure Google places sitelinks for your website – rank high for your brand’s keywords. Focus on your high-ranking keywords, and make sure that when someone searches for your brand, they can find you high on the SERP.
Sitelinks Best Practices
While marketers can remove any unwanted sitelinks that pop up on Google, this method has become a dead end. Google’s sitelink algorithm is the only thing that generates sitelinks nowadays. To ensure that Google updates your sitelinks according to your liking, you must follow some practices. Here are some of the best practices for sitelinks:
Structured Data for Your Website
Structured data has become one of the best SEO practices in recent times to obtain sitelinks from Google. It helps Google not only understand your website, its contents, and organization; but also helps crawlers in correctly identifying the purpose of the content. Adding some code to help Google identify which menu items to consider and which ones to not for sitelinks is important. This is exactly what structured data for your website does. You might have heard about structured data as more commonly referred to as schema or rich snippets.
Adding sitemap.xml File to Your GSC Account
Another important step to take is to add a sitemap to your website to your GSC. This will help Google crawl your website much more thoroughly and efficiently. This will help Google in identifying the most important landing pages and subpages on your website.
Optimize Your Page Titles
Google understands the content of your pages through your page titles, and provides sitelinks accordingly. Hence, ensure that all your page titles are optimized with a precise description of what the page is about. For instance, an About Us page should not have a confusing description like “Get to know us better”, because it is neither logical nor tuned in with customer expectations.
How many site links are recommended?
For maximizing organic results, it is advised to create at least four sitelinks for your campaigns at the account level. Ensure that each sitelink is relevant and related to your ad groups within campaigns. You will also need a minimum of one sitelink for mobile devices.
Can you edit organic sitelinks on Google
Sitelinks are generated by Google’s algorithms automatically. So you cannot directly edit organic sitelinks on Google, unlike your meta tags and descriptions for a page. However, you can follow the best practices prescribed by Google’s ranking factor list to ensure it influences the placement and generation of organic sitelinks.
How to Demote or Remove Organic Sitelinks on Google
There is no direct way to remove organic sitelinks. You can follow these steps to demote or remove any unwanted organic sitelinks on Google:
- Find out which pages you are linking internally to the sitelink. Update the anchor text in those pages along with internal links that might be going to the sitelink. Then resubmit the page to Google in GSC.
- If the page appearing on the sitelink is something you do not want on Google’s search index, then simply put a noindex tag on the page
- Ensure that your site structure is clear, and easily crawlable by Google bots.
While sitelinks aren’t critical to the success of a website, there is no denying that they can be very helpful in many ways. Following the regulations and compliances laid down by Google can help you score a chance to display sitelinks on their website. Avail the services of a professional entity in this domain like Infidigit, an SEO Services, to ensure that your website ranks at the top and can display sitelinks.
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