Yesterday, Google changed the way it displays and formats site links for any website by expanding each link to show more content within the site. Previously, a website listing would appear in the search results page and you would see 8 listings (2 columns with 4 links in each column) like this:
Site links (blue links under main link) act as a quick way to directly access the internal pages within the site from a search results page and will also give searches more of an idea of what type of content this website contains.
Now this has been expanded to show 12 links (2 columns with 6 links and a brief description) as shown in the image below:
As you can see the font is much larger and the top listing takes up a bigger amount of space than before on the first page of Google. Without having to access the website from the homepage users can now see some more content within the site directly from the search results page. This also raises awareness of specific sections or bits of content which visitors may not be aware of and you want to pull people to. This means marketers who are responsible for their websites must ensure that each page of the website be treated like a landing page or homepage. Not everyone will enter your website via the homepage. What key messages are on your homepage that are not visible on any internal pages? Your positioning statement? Additional services? Special offers? Subscription forms?
“It turns out that sitelinks are quite useful because they can help predict which sections of the site you want to visit. Even if you didn’t specify your task in the query, sitelinks help you quickly navigate to the most relevant part of the site, which is particularly handy for large and complex websites. Sitelinks can also give you a good overview of a website’s content, and let webmasters expose areas of the site that visitors may not know about.” (Source: Google Blog)
Each site link shown can be ‘demoted’ (removed from appearing in the site links) for a period of 90 days by accessing your Google Webmaster Tools account and viewing the ‘Site Links’ settings page.
When might you want to demote a site link?
If you type in your company name into Google, have a look at which site links are displayed. You may want to demote pages which are out of now date like this one from Aggregate Industries which could be replaced by the 2011 report by increasing the number of internal links to the new report page:
Or if you have broken pages within your site like this one:
Hopefully, what this will do is make marketers and site owners think more about internal links and the overall site architecture and perform more regular maintenance routines. I would advise you all to perform a search for your company name and see which site links are shown for your site and keep an eye on them over the course of the next few weeks as each site link is automatically generated by Google.