Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Google Sitelinks Are Bigger... But Are They SEO Better?

The new Google Sitelinks are much larger, and now gives the corresponding website a tremendous amount of real estate to promote itself within the search results page.

According to Google, sitelinks such as the one below "are meant to help users navigate your site."  However, by Google giving an abundance of advertising space to being the first result on the page, it consequently diminishes the benefits of a website being ranked elsewhere within the Top 10 results.

For example, search for "Sharpe Properties" and you will see:
Google has not released information on how to obtain sitelinks for your own website, but they do provide website owners the ability to downgrade existing sitelinks as follows:
  1. On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
  2. Under Site configuration, click Sitelinks.
  3. In the For this search result box, compete the URL for which you don't want a specific sitelink URL to appear.
  4. In the Demote this sitelink URL box, complete the URL of the sitelink you want to demote.
Once you've demoted or undemoted a sitelink, it can take some time for search results to reflect your changes.
You can demote up to 100 URLs, and demotions are effective for 90 days from your most recent visit to the Sitelinks page in Webmaster Tools.

What Changes Were Made?
According to Google, “Until now, each site had a fixed list of sitelinks that would either all appear or not appear; there was no query-specific ranking of the links. With today’s launch, sitelink selection and ranking can change from query to query, allowing more optimized results. In addition, the maximum number of sitelinks that can appear for a site has been raised from eight to 12, and the number shown also varies by query.”

Sitelinks Benefits?

"It turns out that sitelinks are quite useful because they can help predict which sections of the site you want to visit," Daniel Rocha, a software engineer on the Google Sitelinks team, wrote in a blog post. "Even if you didn't specify your task in the query, sitelinks help you quickly navigate to the most relevant part of the site, which is particularly handy for large and complex websites. Sitelinks can also give you a good overview of a website's content, and let webmasters expose areas of the site that visitors may not know about."

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Benefits?

What matters most when Google places you on their search results page is like conducting a search for real estate...location, location, location.  Now that Google is giving their top result a large real estate landscape to promote its site, it should inherently improve the website's SEO.  However, only time will tell how much SEO weight Google will give to that website.

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