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September 08, 2006

Google Sitelinks - 5 for the Price of 1

By Li Evans

Within the last month while working on some research projects for clients, I began to notice a difference in how the first result in the search engine results pages (SERPs) of Google.  The result being presented had the main title of the page displayed, then underneath the description a listing of 3-5 other links within the website were being displayed - with a quick snippet about each item in the list.

There is not a common formula for the listing of sub-pages under the main listing - and this only appears (right now) for the listing that is number one.  Take a look at the few examples below:

Search:  "bare escentuals"                      

Search: "comcast"

Search: "TMobile"

Search: "Exton Mall"

The thing to note about each of these - they are all brand names or company names.  If you do a search on "cellular phones", "mineral makeup", or "cable services" - you do not get the same site link listing, even if its a company that comes up that way in another search results.

Keeping on top of communicating with the SEO/SEM Professionals and Webmasters, Google is posting about it on their webmaster blog.  Vanessa Fox explains "Our process for generating Sitelinks is completely automated. We show them when we think they'll be most useful to searchers, saving them time from hunting through web pages to find the information they are looking for. Over time, we may look for ways to incorporate input from webmasters too. "

This is something that all major companies should have a "heads up" about because this can impact the SERPs for their company names, brands or products.  It has it's pros - the major one being literally having up to 5 listing right there in the #1 spot.  The major con - where a company could have had a few listings within Google, say they dominated 4 or 8 of the top 10 listings, now they could be just having that #1 slot - and their competitors can now move up in the rankings and be landing in the top 10 now.

As a searcher - I think this is a nice, user friendly improvement to the SERPs on Google.  It would be nice to see the webmaster involvement to become a legitimate contribution - letting the companies choose the pages being listed in that sublist, would be ideal.  However, from a search marketing aspect, now I really want to make sure my clients have the most enticing titles and descriptions for all of the most important pages.

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