You’ve probably seen sitelinks in a Google search result, but didn’t know that was the name for them. Sitelinks are the links to pages within a website, which usually appear in two columns, indented below the first link to the website. Here’s an example for my local city council.
Sitelinks can appear for a site of any size, as long as it has more than one page, and will most often appear when you search for a business or organisation by name, as this tells Google you want information about that business, without specifying what area in particular interests you.
The selection of sitelinks displayed is based on Google’s interpreation of what is most relevant to your search. How this is decided is not spelt out by Google, and you can’t specify what pages appear in the sitelinks, but there are a couple of things you can do to make the sitelinks more closely aligned with your website’s message and goals.
Compare the two images below. One for a large law firm in Australia and the other for a boutique consultancy firm, both with offices in Brisbane.
- Sitelinks for Small Consultancy Firm in Brisbane
- Sitelinks for Large Law Firm in Australia
What can be done to influence your sitelinks?
The page description is a meta entry which can summarise the content of the page. If a page has a description, this is the text Google will usually display below the page title. If there is no description, or the description is the same for every page on the site, Google will display text from the page, usually the first line of regular text it finds.
The large law firm has used the same page description for each page on it’s website, and I’m guessing Google has ignored the description because it is flagged as duplicate content. The small consultancy firm has used a unique description for each of its pages, and that’s what is showing under the sitelinks.
Page descriptions should be unique to each page and useful to the website visitor. It’s okay to use your target keywords, but don’t overdo it.
Some of the law firm’s pages have been coded in a way that makes it difficult for Google, and the other search engine, to identify the body of the page. And that’s why you see “Home About Us>…” for some of the law firm pages rather than a meaningful description of the page or even the first line of content.
Whereas the other site’s pages are correctly marked up to identify headings, content, navigation etc.
If this was your site, what would you prefer your potential customers to see?
Promotion of Sitelinks
Unfortunately, you cannot promote a page to appear in sitelinks. But, you can demote a page through Google Webmaster Tools.
Demoting the page isn’t a guarantee it will never appear in sitelinks, but it will be a strong indicator to Google that it is not an appropriate page for sitelinks. Additionally, demotion is only good for 90 days, unless you log into webmaster tools again.
If you aren’t using Google Webmaster Tools, I recommend you start today.