Google's new site links section is a HUGE advantage for companies claiming top spots in search engine results - as long as they have properly set up their websites to take advantage of this mysterious algorithm-based system. Let's explore the ways that site links can give your business an edge and just how you can best set yourself up for success by taking advantage of them.
What Are Google Sitelinks?
Have you noticed that there are two new columns of miniature search results that sometimes appear below the top search result when you search on Google? If you've ever searched for a company by name you have probably seen these little in-site links before.
Generally, these special results only show up when you search by company name or use a search term that is so specific a company's main page pops up at your top search result. Google says that they choose to show these in-site results only when they think they'll be beneficial or interesting to the searcher.
But what are they? What is their purpose? In short, they help you find more specific things you may be looking for on a company's website. It's easiest to think of site links as sub-links. Like sub-titles in an article such as this one, sub-links lead you to more and more specific areas of a website. Each site link (or sub-link, if you will) in a Google search result takes you deeper into a company's website. It lets you jump to your area of interest without having to navigate the entire website.
Here's an example of what came up when we typed "global tv" into the Google search bar:
Do you see how options like "Schedule" and "Live TV" came up? These are areas of the Global TV website that people who search for Global TV may be interested in. It saves them time from having to navigate the entire website to get where they want.
How Can Sitelinks Help Your Business?
Now that you know how they are helpful to consumer and general web searcher the question remains, how are they helpful to you? According to one small-scale study, just the addition of site links to a company's search result can increase click-through rates up to 64%.
Gain A Prominent Place on the Results Page
When your page appears with site links attached it suddenly went from being a few lines of space on the results page to taking up about a quarter of the page. Talk about prominence!
Your result isn’t only larger, though, the site links actually draw more attention to it. Most search results look almost identical to each other. The link to the actual site is larger and (usually) blue, followed by the URL in green and a few lines explaining what the page is about. This repeats over and over for each search result. Since the site links look different they act as a barrier between your result and the other results, setting it apart and drawing more attention to it.
Promote Internal Content
As Neil Patel pointed out in an article he wrote for Entrepreneur Magazine, site links not only help you dominate the top spots in a list of search results, they also help you promote the content inside your website. Though people may see what your company is and what it does from your site description in a typical search result, they may not know important specific things they can accomplish on your website.
For example, site links can highlight the following functions of your website:
- Direct contact forms and online appointment booking.
- Educational information about industry-related things on your blog or other pages.
- Free and paid resources you offer that people can access through your website.
- Links to your social media pages.
Shorten the Marketing Funnel
Linking people to these parts of your website quicker, site links allow you to skip entire portions of the traditional marketing funnel. Instead of having to click through your website and possibly sign up for something to help them figure out what they need, your customers can just click directly on one link to take them to the service or purchase page they desire.
Life is picking up speed at every turn. In this fast-paced world, you customers need things at their fingertips as quickly as possible. Giving them a full understanding of your company at a glance and allowing them to navigate to their desired pages quicker will make their lives easier. Easier lives = happier customers.
How To Take Advantage of Site links to Give Your Business an Edge
So you know how helpful site links can be, but what do you need to do to use them to your advantage? It's actually pretty easy. You just need to know a little bit about how they work and follow a few simple steps to make your website's full sitemap more visible.
How Do Sitelinks Work?
According to Google, it's all based on algorithms. Whether or not site links pop up for your search result when it is first in line and which pages of your website are included in those site links is entirely up to the algorithm to determine. We assume that, at this point, it's based on the popularity of particular pages of your website. Google says that they might place some of this under webmaster control in the future.
Have a Clear Sitemap
If you aren't already familiar with what a sitemap is it is certainly time for you to learn a little bit about it. In short, a sitemap shows the hierarchy of your pages. You have one main page (your homepage), followed by subpages (i.e. - your blog, your news section, your contact area, etc.). Your subpages may have smaller pages connected to them as well. Establishing a clear hierarchy on your sitemap is essential to allowing Google to search through your website and decide which pages it will pull up into the site links area.
Upload Your Sitemap to Google
There's not a big awesome thing about having a sitemap if you haven't properly shared it with search engines. Uploading your well-laid-out-sitemap to Google is an essential part of this process.
Create Linked Text On Your Main Pages
Instead of just filling your homepage and main landing pages with pictures and buttons and relying on your navigation menu to move people around your website you will need to employ some internal links to your landing pages and subsections directly on pages themselves. These links are what the Google robots use to crawl through your site and to decide which links to put into the site links area.
Use Your SEO Best Practices
By now you should know about SEO and SEO best practices (if you don't, you can learn more about some of our other blogs posts. Though they may not be directly related to Google's site links algorithms, SEO best practices affect the way that the Google robots view your site in the first place and have a great impact on whether or not you make it to the top spot on the results page - the ONLY spot that gets to use site links.
Amy-Lynn Vautour, IDMD