Google Sitelinks

Getting strong search engine rankings for your website is extremely important. Coming up in Google searches when a potential customer is searching for an item or service in your field is a necessity. High rankings will generate highly target traffic to your website and increase your business. However, attaining these rankings is much easier said than done.  Google Sitelinks is one way to increase your Click Through Rate. (CTR)

First of all, let’s take a look at what exactly Google Sitelinks are. Google SiteLinks are the smaller sub-text that appears until your search results when you search for a term on Google. No matter what you are searching for, you will come across these sitelinks and many times you probably haven’t given them a second thought.  What these Sitelinks do, is allow a user to navigate around your site without having to start at the beginning on your homepage and track down the specific information he or she is looking for from there.

For example, a person searching for a certain kind of Nike basketball shoe would not want to have to start at the homepage to find that specific shoe. What Google Sitelinks do, is allow the person to go straight to the page that contains the topic they were searching for. Think of it as removing a step from the navigation process by putting the important or relevant links front and center in the search results. This gets the user to exactly what he was looking for, in the shortest amount of time.

Sitelinks have been around in Google searches since about 2007 and the wa they appear to a user searching for something has changed a bit over the last ten years. Google has also reduced the number of Sitelinks that will appear in any given search from 12 down to 6.  This will probably change and evolve further as time goes on, but the basic idea will stay the same.

The kicker, when it comes to Sitelinks is this: Google does not display Sitelinks for every website out there.  If the website is poorly optimized, Google will not show Sitelinks for it. So, while you cannot control what users will search for, you certainly can control if your website design is optimized in such a way that will improve Sitelink discovery.

There are several reasons why Sitelinks are important.

First of all, Sitelinks will improve your Click Through Rate. (CTR) This is one of the most important factors in generating organic traffic.  Over time, the first three results in a search will  generate over 55% of all clicks. Basically, this means that the lower you rank in a Google search, the less chance there is of someone clicking through to your site. Most people do not page through 3 or 4 pages of Google searches looking for something. They find what they need on the first page, and usually within the first few results.

Doing the math is pretty easy. If a keyword term gets 10,000 searchesin a month, the first results gets 3,124 clicks.  If the first result also has Sitelinks, this will dominate the top half of the page and which results is about 20% extra clicks, or another 2,000 clicks per month!

Sitelinks also play a part in building credibility and trust of your website.  Google will only designate Sitelinks to a website that is trusts.  Google trusts sites that are built correctly and properly optimized. Google uses algorithms to rank sites and provide it’s users with the best possible experience, so they are not going to rank sites that are not properly optimized.

Sitelinks will also increase your brand awareness.  Sitelinks are a great way to educate people about your product or service as they will usually link to an important page on your site, such as a product page or an about page.  The more users use these Sitelinks, the more your increase knowledge of your brand.

Sitelinks also allow users to browse deeper pages than they normally would otherwise. Instead of starting at the homepage and going from there when a user reaches your website, they start at a page that has their topic of interest allowing them to find other pages from there. In this manner, they may visit four or pages on your site before leaving.

So how can you generate Sitelinks for your website?

Here are a few steps to take to insure that your site has these crucial Sitelinks.

  1. Unique website name. Make sure your brand name is unique. If you have a website call ‘bike shop’, it is probably never going to get first page results because the term is much too general. Literally tens of thousands of businesses have a bike shop all over the world in both pedal bikes and motorized bikes, so how can Google sort out yours above all the others?
  2. Clear website structure and navigation. A clear structure and easy navigation is crucial for Google in ranking your site. If Google can’t easily find all the pages on your site, it is not going to show Sitelinks for it. The homepage should be the root page and the starting navigation point for your site. Users should be able to easily find the other pages they wish to visit from there. The structure should be intuitive and logical so that a user doesn’t have to figure out how to navigate it.
  3. #1 ranking in search results. Obviously Google is most likely to give Sitelinks to the site that ranks #1 in searches. There are no Sitelinks for the lesser ranking results.
  4. Sitemap .xml file. Adding a sitemap to your Google Search Console allows Google to crawl your site more efficiently. It will increase the coverage of your pages and also defines the most important pages on your site.
  5. Internal links. Building internal links tells Google which are the most important pages on your website. If, for example, a product page is being linked to frequently, Google will take that as a sign that this page is important to your site.
  6. Crosscheck page titles. The page title is very important for SEO. Having the correct page title is crucial as Google looks at these titles to provide Sitelinks. The page titles should be a short description of the page.
  7. Brand awareness. Raising your brand awareness is a never ending process. Think of it this way: the more brand awareness you have, the more users will search for your brand name. This will in turn make your site more popular and increase the chances of getting Google Sitelinks.

Overall, the world will not end (for your website) if you don’t get Google Sitelinks. However, if you follow the steps listed above, you will eventually get them. Make sure everything is properly optimized on your website and then leave it to Google to do the rest.