Sitelinks have been around for ten years now, and you surely have seen sitelinks before.
However, it wasn’t a game-changing factor then.
When it was first introduced in 2006, it didn’t occupy the lion’s share of the page. Instead, it was just a bunch of blue links of the web pages with no description.
But the difference now is that it takes up to 90% of the above-the-fold screen space.
It can’t go unnoticed and can contribute to increasing your click-through-rate (CTR).
This brings us to our main question:
Sitelinks are the sub-listings that appear below the description of your snippet in the search result. It leads to specific pages deeper within the site.
Here’s how it looks like:
Sitelinks are there to help users jump directly to important parts of a site.
Google algorithm analyzes the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that can help users quickly find the information they are looking for.
Google shows sitelinks for results only when it thinks they will be useful and relevant to the user.
Sitelinks first appeared in 2005. Since then, it has undergone many changes.
For instance, sitelinks only appeared on the first search results in the beginning.
However, in 2009, Google decided to launch an expansion of sitelinks, meaning multiple results on one query could have sitelinks.
Then again, in 2011, Google decided to improve sitelinks’ visibility. The links were boosted to full-sized text and one line of text snippet was added, much like the regular search results.
In fact, Google even gave the liberty to demote a sitelink if you thought it was inappropriate or incorrect.
Although Google didn’t guarantee the removal, the algorithms would take these demotions into account when showing and ranking the links.
But in 2016, Google removed the Demote Sitelinks setting in the Search Console. They said,
Google also shared some best practices that you can follow to improve the quality of your sitelinks (which we will discuss in the latter part).
Before we even discuss how to get sitelinks for your website, it’s essential that you understood the importance of sitelinks.
1. Makes your website stand out from the rest
As mentioned earlier, the additional links cover up a big space of the search results and improve your site’s visibility.
On the web version, the sitelinks take up four or five times as much SERP space is given over to your listing. And, in case of mobile, a sitelink listing can take up the entire screen.
Thus, it pushes down the unwanted results as well as any competitor’s results that might appear, boosting your CTR.
Sitelinks help users directly go to the inner pages of your website without having to visit your homepage.
This helps you get traffic to those pages that are vital for your business, which would otherwise be concentrated on your homepage.
Besides, it gives your visitors a better experience as it saves them the trouble of entering your homepage every time they want to browse your product or service pages.
3. Helps build credibility and trust
Google only shows sitelinks for websites if they think they will be useful to the user.
Thus, when you see sitelinks on a website, it’s a signal of trust.
This helps build your business credibility and also works in favor of your SEO.
4. Raises your product and brand awareness
Google generally displays sitelinks for relevant pages (based on its algorithm calculations).
You will usually find sitelinks to the product/service page, pricing, and about us page.
These sitelinks are a good shortcut to educating people about your products, resulting in brand awareness.
For example, if you look at OnPage Champ sitelinks, you can see a glance of the product that we offer – the ‘SERP Audit’ tool.
Sitelinks have evolved over the years in terms of appearances and numbers in the search results.
Let us look at some of the variations of sitelinks.
Paid sitelinks are the sitelink extensions that appear on ads.
Rather than sending all users on the same landing page, paid sitelinks allows you to display up to four additional links.
You can choose to write your own descriptions for your sitelinks or have Google generate it for you automatically.
Sitelink usually appears for the branded terms.
It can contain up to a maximum of 12 sitelinks, and these numbers shown vary by the query.
One-line sitelinks are a single row of links appearing for results that didn’t show sitelinks before.
In fact, one-line sitelinks can even appear for results that aren’t in the first position.
It contains up to four sitelinks, but it can have variations in terms of display.
For instance, in a carousel, it can display more sitelinks.
Organic sitelinks search box allows users to quickly search your site or app on the search result page itself.
The search box offers real-time suggestions and other features.
Google automatically adds it, without you having to do anything in addition to make this happen.
However, you can help them understand your website better by adding website structured data.
Sitelinks are algorithmically generated; you can’t edit organic sitelinks.
However, you can follow some practices that can help you influence sitelinks.
1. Have an optimized site structure
Having a clearly defined structure of a website plays an important role when it comes to sitelinks.
Search engine crawlers visit your homepage and then follow links they find in your menu, content, and XML sitemap while crawling and indexing your website.
2. You must rank at the top for your brand name
This is the most basic requirement. Google doesn’t give sitelinks to the second, third, or other lower-down search results.
That’s why it’s essential that you rank top on the search results when someone Googles your brand or website name.
How your internal pages are linked, and anchor texts are used, plays an important role.
That’s why only use relevant internal links and anchor texts that are informative and try avoiding repetitions.
4. Add a table of contents
Sitelinks can appear for both brand-related terms as well as individual posts.
By adding a table of content at the top of the page with links pointing to the sections of the same page, you can increase your chance of sitelinks.
Here’s an example of how we do it:
5. Must have an XML sitemap for your website
A sitemap is there to help Google crawl your site better.
It helps define the most important pages of your site and increases the coverages of your web pages.
6. Link important pages from your homepage
Apart from linking pages in your menu, you should also add text links pointing to them in your homepage content.
However, links shouldn’t be wrapped in images.
Instead, they should be hyperlinked in text for Google to understand them clearly.
Another crucial factor to focus on is the optimization of on-page elements.
For instance, if you want your product pricing page to appear as a sitelink in Google, use a relevant title, such as ‘Pricing’ and not anything else.
You will see how most websites display sidebars for their internal pages.
It helps redirect users to visit the pages that you want.
It also sends a signal to Google that those are some of the most important pages of your site.
Thus, it might increase the chance of those pages appearing as sitelinks.
9. Focus on technical SEO
If you want Google to trust your site, you need to build a high-quality website.
Focus on optimizing the technical aspects of your website as per Google’s guidelines.
Google’s algorithm can easily dish out low-quality content or spam websites from their search results.
Sitelink is just another SERP element designed to help users find all necessary information quickly and easily.
While you may not have direct control over sitelinks, you can follow the above-mentioned best SEO practices to influence sitelinks.