What are Google sitelinks and can I change them?

Published on 15th January 2017

In this post we discuss what are Google sitelinks and how/whether you can change them.

Before we start, it is important to highlight that there are two different types of Sitelinks in Google search results: organic sitelinks and adwords sitelinks. This article will cover organic sitelinks. For more information on adwords sitelinks take a look here.

Quick find:

  • What are Google Sitelinks
  • What are the benefits of Google Sitelinks?
  • How to get Google Sitelinks
  • How does Google decide on what links to show as sitelinks?
  • How can i add a site link to my Google listing?
  • How to remove a Google Sitelink

What are Google Sitelinks

Sitelinks are additional links to a website that are sometime displayed in Google Search results, indented below the main organic listing. These link to other internal pages within the website and are displayed when Google believes it might be benefit user navigation and allow them to find the information they are looking for quicker.

Site links are especially common when search for brand based queries. Essentially, Google is trying to give you additional options that allow you to navigate quicker to where you want to get to than to have to go through the homepage.

In the example below, we see the results for a Google search for “Footprint Digital”. Here Google has included a selection of other internal pages (sitelinks) below the link to our homepage.

Example Google Sitelinks in a search for Footprint Digital

Example Google Sitelinks in a search for Footprint Digital

Common questions about sitelinks

What are the benefits of Google Sitelinks?

There are two main benefits to google site links:

  • Sitelinks provide more SERP real estate and help your listing stand out from other listings. In return, this help increase CTR (click-through rate) and organic traffic.
  • From the user point of view, sitelinks can be very useful in helping the user navigate direct to the content they are looking to quicker.

How to get Google Sitelinks

As the following sections explain, you are limited in what you can do to get Google sitelinks as Google decides when and what they show in a sitelink.

To improve your chances, you should consider the following:

  • Include the page within the top-level navigation to ensure it is linked to form every page.
  • Use clear navigational markup to help demonstrate it is a top-level navigation element (e.g. html 5 <nav>)
  • Use clear anchor text or alt text to describe the link to the page. The anchor text in the sitelink is generally what is defined in the link on your website.
  • Make sure the page you are trying to use as a site link is well optimised and covers everything the user will need or be looking for.
  • Use the priority value with your sitemap.xml to help direct Google to what are the most important pages on your website.

How does Google decide on what links to show as sitelinks?

This is an automated process where Google’s algorythm tries to identify important top-level pages that it thinks might be relevant to pages.

Although the exact way this is decided is not known, it is clear that sitelinks are influenced by the clear internal reference of a webpage within the site’s hierarchy. In short, for a webpage to stand a chance of becoming a site link, it has to be well referenced within the website.

In Google’s own words:

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.

Another theoretical assumption would be that Google must know which pages of a website are of key interest to a users based on the query and click-through data it collects from search results.

How can i add a site link to my Google listing?

Short answer, you can’t. Sitelinks are determined by Google, which means you have no control over what they show (not quite, as you will read about further on).

How can i change a site link in my Google Listing?

Short answer again, you can’t. the only thing you can do is to try and improve internal reference of the page within the website (see above) or request for Google to remove a site link Google it has chosen.

How to remove a Google Sitelink

Google is pretty good at identifying what might be a good sitelink, but it certainly doesn’t get it right all the time. I’ve experienced many a time where a client/site has be in uproar about the fact that Google is showing a particular outdated or inappropriate url within there listing. Fear not, we have the answer.

How to remove a Google Sitelink from your listing

UPDATE: Google has now removed the sitelink demotion feature. Read more here: http://searchengineland.com/google-search-console-removes-sitelinks-demotion-feature-261002

So, you are in the situation where Google has decided to display a certain page on your website as a sitelink, but low and behold, for whatever reason, you don’t want this page to show up as a site link.

Google sitelinks can be removed from the SERPs (search engine results pages) through the use of Google Search Console (AKA Google Webmaster Tools).

To do this, use the following steps:

  1. Log into Google Search Console
  2. Selected the website property you want to edit
  3. Click on Search Appearance > Sitelinks
  4. Add the URL of the sitelink you want to try and demote
  5. Click “Demote”

 

For more information, please read Google’s own webmaster guidelines on sitelinks