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Explaining Google Sitelinks

Rich from Scouta email to ask me:

“When I do a Google search for b5media I get a really neat result that shows the major parts of your site (see image below). Is there a trick from a webmasters point of view to getting that result, or is it something that eventually happens at Google’s end when you get big enough traffic?”

Picture 2-16

It’s a good question and one I’ve had a bit lately – particularly about the same thing appearing for people when they search for ProBlogger on Google – which comes up like this:

Problogger-Search-1

The links under the search result are called ‘Sitelinks’. Google describes them in their Webmaster Tools resources as follows:

“Sitelinks are additional links Google sometimes generates from site contents in order to help users navigate your site. Google generates these sitelinks periodically from your site’s contents.

Because we generate sitelinks dynamically, this list can change from time to time.

Sitelinks are completely automated, and we show them only if we think they’ll be useful to the user. If your site’s structure doesn’t allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don’t think that the sitelinks are relevant to the user’s query, we won’t show them. However, we are always working to improve how we find and display sitelinks.”

Also at the Webmaster Help Center Google also says the same thing but also adds:

“At the moment, sitelinks are completely automated. We’re always working to improve our sitelinks algorithms, and we may incorporate webmaster input in the future.”

So, they are great to have when Google decides to add them to your blog – but there isn’t much you can do to get them or to manipulate what Google shows in these links as they are something that is fairly automated according to some algorithm at Google. They do tend to be shown mainly for larger sites and sites with an established presence – and I’ve only really seen them for the first result in a search.

To find out if you have them – the best way is to log into Google’s Webmaster Tools, verify that you’re the owner of your site and check under the ‘Links’ menu for the ‘Sitelinks’ section. It will then tell you if you have sitelinks or not and if so what links are showing. Alternatively you could search for your blog’s name and if you’re the first result you’ll either see them or not. If you don’t see them and you’re the #1 result you probably don’t have them.

update: as pointed out by numerous comments below – Google recently allowed publishers who do have Google Sitelinks being served to block links that they don’t want to appear. There’s no way to suggest other links – but this at least allows you to block any that you don’t want – albeit only for a 90 day period it seems. You can read about how this works in their announcement. Thanks to those who picked this up (Al, Jordon and Amit).

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I often wondered that myself. There must be some algorithm behind it – those links sound like short, snappy titles. I imaging you’d need to have the link off the main page (probably all pages) and those pages would probably have good authority on their own. Just guesses of course!

  2. Perhaps it is something as simple as looking at which pages have the most inbound links and have a short, snappy title?

  3. Marko Novak says:

    I wanted to research this every time I saw it but always forgot.

  4. Deborah says:

    Very good question and helpful answer, I searched J Chow and he doesn’t even have it. Engadget does though.

    hmmm very interesting, thanks

  5. Al Carlton says:

    If you have site links you can encourage Google which links to display via Webmaster Tools, they announced it a few weeks ago:

    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/10/webmasters-can-now-provide-feedback-on.html

  6. Thanks Darren, very interesting! Sounds like it’s something to look forward to after your blog is “old” enough! :)

  7. Actually, Darren, as of two week ago, you can now edit what sites are shown in your sitelinks in Webmaster Central (if you already have them).

    See: http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2007/10/control-your-expanding-google-sitelinks.html

  8. Bill says:

    Yeah, I have played around with this on my employer’s web sites that I develop. One search term doesn’t show them, and the next one does…so Google is definitely in control here, and most of the time when I have been searching for our sites, when it is shown, it is very relevant to the search terms I am working with. Unfortunately, it also shows I still have work to do as one of the SiteLinks says “Click here for Details” – not exactly a good anchor text.

  9. I asked this same question on a forum last week and got a similar answer. It would be great if webmasters could control it, but then almost every site would look the same in the results.

  10. Matt Wolfe says:

    Thanks for answering that. I’ve always been curious about that as well.

  11. Chris says:

    Following Jordan’s advice, I checked my Google Webmaster Tools account and see that my site hasn’t been selected for sitelinks just yet: “Google has not generated any sitelinks for your site.”

    It’s something to look forward to in the future!

  12. James says:

    i have to admit, I never really thought about this. I’ve clicked on them, but I did not take note of them.

  13. leslie says:

    This just hope my website can reach this status. It will be a long haul for me……

  14. Amit says:

    I have recently explained on the update of sitelinks feature here – http://www.amitbhawani.com/blog/google-shows-7-links-in-sitelinks-feature/

  15. Great post Mr Problogger. Now sitelinks make a little more sense.

  16. BONTB says:

    What I also noticed is that they put like subcategory instead of sitelinks check out my site: I have not seen that be4.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=bontb&btnG=Google+Search

    It’s similar to sitelinks it’s just a subcategory of your blog.

  17. Site links are an important way to gain more readers..it’s a unknown and rarely used way to break your blog into popular categories, great post.

  18. Hans Muster says:

    Very interesting! I have never realized that sitelinks are existing. But how it seems, the most of the great sites haven’t got these sitelinks. Ex. microsoft, nytimes

  19. Thanks for answering the question Darren. As always, you’re a great font of knowledge.

    Rich

  20. One of my sites just today got sitelinks! It’s not a big site (1k uniques a day) and it’s only been #1 for about 2 months. Imagine my surprise when I did a site:domain.com. :)

    While it isn’t big it is probably the most universal site in my niche. It’ll be interesting to see how it affects traffic.

  21. Javier says:

    I’ve seen this even with small sites. What I’ve noticed is that most of the time the sitelink text displayed will match both the title and the file name in the URL… e.g. a world sitelink will have something like: http://www.somesite.com/world.html and the title will read somthing like: Wordl.

  22. Mr T Shirts says:

    I have a site with sitelinks, the actual text in the links is not good for two of them, it just says ‘Step1′ and Step3′ whereas the other ones are descriptive and useful to searchers. The only thing on the site with Step1 and Step3 are two images on the homepage with the filenames Step1 and Step3, alt text and title etc are all more descriptive but for some reason Google picks the filename for an image which links to that page

  23. Keral Patel says:

    I have not got any sitelinks yet. But thinking to get loads of links for inner pages of mine so it ranks better and gets more traffic and maybe it will be considered for the sitelinks option.

  24. Thanks to google site links a land mark opportunity for users to explore more than they think to spend a time on a site

  25. I heard somewhere that sitelinks are displayed in google after at least 1 year of 1st place in search index at a specific keyword. I guess it make sense.

  26. botez says:

    And finaly how long do i have to wait until google will display a sitelink right next to my website if i am on the first spot at one google search.?

  27. Well, it seems that you to stay there for at least 2 years. After this, your site must have a friendly SEO with more then 2 inbound links/page.

  28. botez says:

    Thank you. But what if my website is changing his view and i am on the first spot for one other keyword?
    That time when i was on the first place for an old keyword will not matter?

  29. Does google generate site links for blogs or this is only for websites?