Monday, October 22, 2007

Those Extra Google Links - a bit of control

Google calls them 'sitelinks' and they are those wonderful and yet annoying links under main search result descriptions. Those that have the links wonder at the method by which Google determines which to show and which not to. I have theories that include: how many times you link to the page on your site (which is why it tends to be the 'about' page), how many times others link to that page, what your main navigations' pages are and what they are called, the links to pages with the most visited content based on search clicks from Google organic (which is why white papers get listed), and the ones that show up the most in search results for your brand. Here is Google's blurb about it:

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.

These links tend to show up under results for brand name searches that match the domains. It is obvious there is some filtering on Google's part as to who gets these links and who doesn't. For example: Ford has 4 links as a result of a search for 'ford', fedex has 0 as a result of a search for 'fedex', Coke gets no love and no links for searches for 'coke', 'cola' or 'coca-cola'. Sort of makes you wonder if there is any consistency to the algorithm or the human choices.

But the big news is that you can now BLOCK certain links from being shown*. For example, if you are an online store, why not tell Google that you don't care about people being able to directly navigate to your location map? I am not sure you will get another link to replace it but that is the other big news - Google is going to show up to 8 links. SEOs will see the implications of this immediately. One, other organic/universal results are pushed down the page. Two, internal linking becomes an even more important tactic. [*you need to have a Google sitemaps verified account for your website to do this].

Of course there are those of us that don't have large enough sites or enough links from the external world to warrant those coveted converting links. You will see the following message:

Google has not generated any sitelinks for your site. 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.

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posted by Barbara 'webmama' Coll @ 3:26 PM     Permanent Link