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Mega Sitelinks - everybody can see big sitelinks now

     
5:29 am on Aug 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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We've seen Google testing big sitelinks many times so far. It seems official now (or rolling out gradually). It's so huge that it occupies above the fold.

Screenshot [picasaweb.google.com]

[insidesearch.blogspot.com...]

Sitelinks will now be full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text—similar to regular results—making it even easier to find the section of the site you want. We’re also increasing the maximum number of sitelinks per query from eight to 12.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 11:52 pm (utc) on Aug 16, 2011]
[edit reason] added link to new google blog post [/edit]

2:07 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I know... three post in a row -- and mentioning a specific site is usually a WebmasterWorld TOS issue -- but had to throw this one in-

No site links for "google"

:-)
2:52 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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There's a Google blog article today about the changes in sitelinks. Some ranking news comes along with it:

In addition, we're making a significant improvement to our algorithms by combining sitelink ranking with regular result ranking to yield a higher-quality list of links. This reduces link duplication and creates a better organized search results page. Now, all results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks..

These changes will be rolling out globally over the next few days in all supported languages to anyone using a modern browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or IE 7 and above. We hope these changes make it easier and faster for you to reach the information you need

[googleblog.blogspot.com...]
6:06 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Rolled out in NZ
6:41 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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These changes will be rolling out ... to anyone using a modern browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or IE 7 and above.

Why would the browser type matter?

Anyway, there's the proof that different people see different results because of their browser.

I can understand that a mobile browser might get a different layout, but what other factors are in play here?
8:34 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Seen it this morning, oh, how horrible! Complete dominance by the first result, knocking down anything that is not number 1.
9:15 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I dont get this, why do google want to show less results on page 1, Now we have
- "when searching images" 20 images on page 1,
- sometimes you see one domain represented 5 times on page one.
- sometimes up to 5 youtube results with video thumb.
- Now also thos big sitelinks

What I want is more different results on page one, I think everyone wants that.
9:21 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I've only seen it for brands so far, they haven't encroached on more generic searches.
9:58 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The problem with it is, if you 'feel lucky', then it's great.

Why these mega sitelinks are not as part of an option a user can choose is beyond me.

I'm not impressed.
10:18 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Just did some 2-3 word seaeches and huge sitelinks showed up for exact match domains. Not sure if that's what Google wanted.
11:02 am on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Another idea that looks good in theory. On the left column there is a new heading "something different" with links to competitor listings. Paid for, I wonder?

I'm in the UK.
12:04 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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That's interesting, the second of two new pages added to my WordPress blog last night is already showing as a mega site link...hmmm.
12:16 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I was able to get the mega site links to display by simply typing the domain name into the Google search box.

ex: domain.com
12:32 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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yea that one seems to work in almost every case for me, no matter who it is.
1:05 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hahaha...surprise, surprise, it doesn't work with flash sites !
10:00 pm on Aug 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing massive sitelinks for my site's name, and even misspellings of my site's name. Eg "example.com", "example", "eaxmple.com", and "eaxmple".

They even show for searches that include some - but not all - other criteria. Eg they show for "example.com widgets" but not for "example.com doohickeys"

I wonder, can we glean any insight from which extra words elicit massive sitelinks, and which do not?
6:40 am on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think it's a brilliant feature. These are for navigational searches, and they're much more useful than classic sitelinks. While they do dominate the page, the two columns allow Google to squeeze a lot of navigation into a reasonably small space. There's room for several other listings above the fold, and after even a 12-pack there are still nine other standard results on the page (if you count Universal results, sometimes more than nine).

Popularity of the page seems to be an important factor in whether it's included in the list. Popularity also appears to determine the display order. Note that a page in the list apparently needn't be linked directly from home. For a local weekly newspaper site, eg, I'm seeing an important article from 2009, which made a very big splash, returned as one of the twelve. In this case, there's no homepage link to be found.

On the sitelinks for WebmasterWorld, OTH, one of the sitelinks is for the current top Highlighted Post. Right now, on 8/17/2011, this link is: New "Show More Results", going to the New "Show More Results" Infinite Scroll thread in Google SEO News. It will be interesting to note how often it changes and what replaces it.

Also noticing "Privacy Policy" is the first link on several of the sites although the link for it is marked up with a <small> tag and the very bottom of the site's pages.

I'm wondering what kinds of sites these are where Privacy would be a primary concern. In the WebmasterWorld sitelinks, small-font links (albeit from the top of the page) that made the list include "Recent posts" and "Search".

I'm guessing that measures of user engagement will allow Google to calibrate the new sitelink algo even more. I also feel that these sitelinks go hand in hand with Panda. They should provide some hints about how Google is trying to improve engagement on its own pages.
8:01 am on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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One thing is for certain; the first three or four words of the page title and of the snippet are now of high importance, and the logic of using
page title - site name
for page titles rather than
site name: page title
is very clear to see.
8:55 am on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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...the first three or four words of the page title and of the snippet are now of high importance...

I agree with this in general. Yes, it would be prudent to keep possible title shortening in mind when naming pages.

But I am also seeing cases where Google completely changes titles and includes the renamed versions in sitelinks. It doesn't matter what the first few words are if Google likes the page and can find a phrase it likes better either onpage or in the anchor text of a link to the page.

There's one page on a client site where Google has insisted on its renamed version for so long that I'm debating whether to go along with it and try changing the actual title element to match Google's name. (Maybe Google is sending me a message that would improve the page's rankings).

Google's modifications of sitelink titles, in general, are much better than its snippets. In the snippet area, we're suddenly confronted with handling twelve meta descriptions or snippets as an ensemble.
9:13 pm on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You can "demote" up to 100 URLs that you do not want to appear in sitelinks.

This isn't a straightforward list of 100 URLs. No. You have to specify which "search result" you want to demote the URL for.

I guess this means that you cannot completely block any particular URL from appearing in sitelinks.

The example is for a search result of "www.example.com/" but what other search results actually show sitelinks?
9:57 pm on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Just to note that New "Show More Results" has been replaced in the WebmasterWorld sitelinks list by the Google monthly serps thread.

The former has had no new posts since yesterday, whereas the serps thread has had 6 new posts. I have no idea what the page views have been.
10:08 pm on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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My wife, who uses Google search as a nav bar (i.e. she types in webmasterworld.com and then clicks on the first search result. I know, I know, why did I marry someone like that?) commented on this today - like, "what the heck is Google doing, look at all this?"
11:13 pm on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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"My wife, who uses Google search as a nav bar"
-wheel


She is not alone.

I was at a customer's office last week and he did the same thing with Bing when I was trying to show him how his site ranked on Google.

When I said, "that's where it appears on Bing" he said, "I don't have Bing", (completely unaware of the difference between a search box and an address bar or that Bing was the default search on his Win7 / MS-IE / Windows Explorer / browser / search bar all-in-one-thingamabobber).
11:46 pm on Aug 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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My domain is made up of three short words.

I get the mega sitelinks for example.com, w1w2w3, w1w2 w3, and w1 w2 w3. Also for, w1 w2w3, I've never seen that one in my stats though.

I wonder if this might result in a small reduction in page views for some sites. Maybe letting visitors bypass a home page or sub-index page on their way to their destination page? Probably hardly noticeable unless you get a high percentage of visits from people searching your domain name.
12:17 pm on Aug 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

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My sitelinks are all screwed up - have links pointing to www.www and wwWebmasterWorldww - subdomains that don't even exist!. I can't seem to change any of this via webmaster tools.

Please, either do it properly or don't do it at all.
3:48 am on Aug 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I really like this change because it seems like Google really has "user friendliness" in mind this time. One does beg to wonder, if this won't reduce their revenue quota on branded terms though? Seems like a good opportunity to re-continue the conversation whether or not you should be bidding on your brand terms.
7:58 am on Aug 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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subdomains that don't even exist
You should invoke .htaccess rules to ensure these return 410 and Google will delist them soon enough.
7:51 pm on Aug 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You can stop buying brand terms now, not sure it was ever necessary. It's also another stab at comparison travel, shopping and other similar sites.
11:31 pm on Aug 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Last time we conducted the test, "to bid on brand or not to bid on brand", we saw significant increase in profits so it's been working for us. With this new layout, I think it's worth to do it again.
9:37 pm on Aug 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You should invoke .htaccess rules to ensure these return 410 and Google will delist them soon enough.


That's the point though - there's no service attached to the subdomains - no dns, nothing.
9:59 pm on Aug 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps you should invoke the wildcard subdomain option and ensure it feeds back "410 Gone".
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