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Example: The Page is about "Widgets that are Green"
Google gave the site link as "Are Green"
Now, when I made this change, Google said the site link would be blocked until October 2nd. Anyone experiment with this feature yet and how did Google react in the Serps?
I would expect the impact of removing a sitelink on ranking to be nothing, aside from whatever changes occur to clickthrough rate as a result of the missing link or whatever replaced it.
A few days later, we fell 200 spots for "widgets that are green" and jumped to the top 400 spots for "are green"
I know Google dynamically gathers these words and site links, but something is a bit screwy with this.
So I did block it in my webmaster tools to see what happens.
The real odd thing about this is the date: June 26th. I wonder if Google made a change to the dynamic algo and Google is not properly classifying web pages now. Might explain some of the recent drastic drops for some people. Fortunately, “Widgets that are green” is not really a big search term for us.
It does look like they've done some updating recently - they just this past weekend added a sitelink to the most important event on my events site. Too bad the event was over two weeks ago. Be interesting to see if the link disappears now, since people won't be searching for it again until next year.
the mechanism that is related to site links does have an effect on the serps
Personally, I would rephrase that to "the mechanism that is related to the serps does have an effect on site links" based on the effects you've reported. Serps create sitelinks, sitelinks don't create serps. Of course, there's an element of 'feedback', in that Google can look at how people utilise sitelinks, and so the relationship is not entirely that simple.
I know that the pages have been re-crawled and cached, but it hasn't made any difference to the sitelinks. They seem to be 'stuck'.
Sitelinks are the most often visited pages of a website.
URLs Google estimates to be the most frequented.
This is the only valid co-relation from where I see it.
Number of unique visits seem to be the key even if the URL itself is not the most popular landing page or does not even act as an entry point.
Sitelinks aren't really related to keyword targeting in this regard.
But usability is a part of SEO and sitelinks are a mirror image of that.
"Users know this site. Now let's see, where were they likely to visit nearly always? Let's give them these links up front and score points for making their lives easier."
As for link text generation, I'd say they simply exclude obvious phrases that are already present elsewhere in the listing. It'd make sense in most cases not to list 'widgets' 8 times when everyone knows the site is about widgets. Looks rather stupid though, especially where the removed keyword was part of an actual name ( place, product, service... ).
Needless to say their estimates are sometimes off ( as they can't use Analytics data unless you let them, even if they have the stats of your domain ). For less popular / regional sites, or sites with seasonal trends this method sometimes multiplies a data sample that was way too small, and the domain ends up with 4 out of 8 links being a snapshot of a day's ( hour's ) worth of trends.
Rarely saw this problem with sites that have a large volume of visits, evened out.
'Blocking' is likely to disable the *display* of either URLs in the top 8. Unless that tips the balance and another URL pushes the ( now blocked ) page out of the top 8, I don't think they'll just go on and show #9 or #10, 11... etc. Say, why would they have any extras calculated?
But they do refresh the list at least once or twice a year.
[edited by: Miamacs at 11:40 am (utc) on July 14, 2008]
That's a GREAT addition! I was wondering that very thing, how often they get updated, and now I will know.
Never blocked them. I am grateful for what I have ;-) Interesting thread. I must say, I am a little surprised to see webmasters blocking valid site links..
I've only ever blocked one, which was to a "My Account"-type page; one that's utterly useless to a user that's not logged in, as the main message on it says "You're not logged in".
It hasn't been replaced with anything else, but it's only been about three months. There was a brief period after I blocked it, where the sitelinks on that site vanished entirely, and a period following it where I could see them in the SERPs, but not in GWT, and now they've settled back to being stable.