Google’s Search Sitelinks – What are they and how can I change what links appear?

Posted by on Friday, October 5th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
CATEGORY: SEO Tags: , ,

Google SitelinksGoogle sitelinks are the indented links below a search result in Google. Google puts these extra links in the search results in hopes that you’ll have an easier time finding, as a search user, what you are looking for. As a website owner, this is great because it gives searchers more options to find what my site may have for them.  It also takes up more valuable search results page real estate. A HUGE plus when trying to push down negative search results (brand reputation and reparation) or just trying to push competitors down, or off, the page. Here is what it looks like on the search results page (via Google Webmasters Support):

 

Google Sitelinks Image

1. The main search result

2. Sitelinks

 

What Google is doing is using its algorithm to best determine the links on the page that the user might actually be looking for.  So, if I do a search result for “Digital C4”, I get the following search result, with sitelinks:

 

Digital C4 Sitelinks

 

Good stuff! More search results about my company. But, what if I don’t like the sitelinks that Google is displaying? What if I don’t want a sitelink that is titled “to download”, or I want a service page up there instead of our “Privacy Policy”? Well, Google allows you to DEMOTE sitelinks. Google says, “Demoting a URL for a sitelink tells Google that you don’t consider this URL a good sitelink candidate for a specific page on your site.” Here is what you need to do, per Google.

 

“Login into Google Webmaster Tools to demote a sitelink URL:

 

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, complete the URL for which you don’t want a specific sitelink URL to appear  (Make sure the URL is EXACT as even an error in capitalization could point Google to a different URL).

4. In the Demote this sitelink URL box, complete the URL of the sitelink you want to demote.”

 

Google Webmaster Tools - Demote Sitelinks

 

It can take some time for the sitelink changes to show up in search results. You can demote up to 100 URLs and they will be demoted for 90 days. Once a URL has been demoted it allows another URL to take its place. Here is where you might ask, “How can I make Google display the URLs I want?” Well, you can’t really make Google do anything. Having said that, Google gives you some advice to help ensure they get it right. Here is what they say:

 

“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.”

 

Sitelinks have been around for years but how often do you look at what Google is displaying on a search for your brand or domain? I’m guessing not very often, or not often enough. And did you know that you could demote URLs? Well, now you know and now you can do something about it.

 

photo credit Photo Credit to John-Morgan

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Nuss

Jason is a co-founding principal at Digital C4 and brings more than 15 years of agency experience to the table. He’s an entrepreneur with experience building companies from the ground up. Jason can be reached through his LinkedIn profile, www.linkedin.com/in/jasonnuss, and he encourages you to leave a comment below to enter into the conversation.

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