October 7, 2014

Sitelinks: Components and Criteria

By Justin H.

There is a solid chance you have not heard of sitelinks, unless you are an avid SEO guru or have worked in the industry. Even so, this is a term that gets somewhat overlooked. Whether or not you know exactly what a sitelink is, you have surely seen and clicked on plenty of them before. Average internet users likely never even realized when Google added these links within the links, but they are crucial.

A sitelink is a link that is automatically selected by one of Google’s algorithms. A group of them will appear in a box underneath the search result for a website, and they will link to more specific aspects of the main website. Take a glance at the attached Google search for a better concept of sitelinks.

Search Results for eGumball.com

As an example, when you search for eGumball.com, you also get sitelinks that contribute to website traffic. The sitelinks present clear options for you such as “pricing” or “Google Places Optimization,” essentially acting as the opposite of a keyword. The amount of sitelinks for a website depends on a couple of variables, such as traffic and overall popularity. There is a somewhat random element to it due to Google’s algorithms, but quite simply, it is better to have more than less.

However, sitelinks do have their caveats. There is certain criteria that a company must have in order to obtain sitelinks in a Google search result. A website has to be at least 18-24 months old in order to even have sitelinks. Alluding to the previous point, a site also cannot have sitelinks unless it already has the number one ranking for a certain keyword. You can find more criteria and important details about sitelinks at this excerpt from SEOpedia.com.

Another big talking point you’ll see from the graphic above is how much general space the search takes up. By simply typing in “eGumball.com,” you get nearly an entire half page of the sitelinks and other information about the company. By pushing any other possible sites farther down the page, it increases the likelihood of someone going directly to eGumball.com, while also making the company seem much more reputable due to the amount of sitelinks that pop up.

A sitelink’s function also benefits the consumer. If the consumer is looking for something specific about eGumball.com, such as pricing or a demo of how their service works, they won’t have to navigate through the site, but simply click on the sitelink specific to what they're looking for. Also notice the text towards the bottom of the above graphic that says “more results from eGumball.com.” This allows a simpler way to find other results from the search. Google has also implemented a search bar over the past few weeks that made it even simpler to search a website for a specific product by eliminating a step in the navigation process. This function is only available on sites with a search engine, and is explained here in even more detail.

Let’s look at this all from another angle. Here is another graphic of what you get when you just type in “Google maps marketing”.

This is how sitelinks essentially act as reverse keywords. If I search for Google maps marketing, I am initially greeted with a link to eGumball.com. A big brand or company can enhance its own marketing power by showing up this way in search engines. The key is that sitelinks are only available to companies who have the top ranking for a specific keyword.

Although sitelinks are solely determined by Google, the site’s owner can still add their input by blocking certain sitelinks they deem to be irrelevant. The contrary to this feature is that you are not able to add your own, as they are all added by Google. Sitelinks operate through Google’s algorithms, and there isn’t a way for a site owner to purchase or acquire their own sitelinks without simply developing their own business and working their way up the online and offline ladders.

Sitelinks are not the holy grail of the SEO world, but they are certainly a huge asset. They don’t always receive a ton of attention, but now with Google’s new sitelink search bar, they are as important as ever.

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