Did your eyes ever land on google sitelinks? Have you noticed a site-specific search box appearing under some search listings? Maybe or maybe not.
Perhaps you’ve searched “YouTube” on google and observed the result is showing differently. An additional search box is placed under youtube’s meta description, according with six sub-pages. You might have guessed that it is just because of its popularity or authority.
Unfortunately, your sixth sense will prove you wrong. This is no rocket science except just another awesome feature by google. You can have both of them if you wish to.
Today I’m going to show you how to get sitelinks unbelievably fast. The truth is, you can’t buy fresh bread without knowing what bread is. Similarly, you’ve to understand the perspectives of sitelinks first.
What are sitelinks?
Sitelinks are a search listing format, shows up main websites along some important internal pages that help users navigate. It is organized in two columns with max six sub-results. Google used to display up to twelve links but now it is deducted to six.
Here is a live example:
I don’t want to keep you unaware that google uses a secret algorithm to determine if a site is eligible for sitelink or not. They show sitelinks when they think it will be useful to users. Otherwise, they wouldn’t.
For instance, google is showing up about, contact, archives and some other important pages in our case. Because google thinks the users who searched for “Blogging Spell” might want to navigate to these pages. So it will save their time.
Do you know what, it is not limited to pages. They can show up almost anything including posts, categories, searches. This is entirely not in your hand. The only ability you will have later is demoting links (discussed later in this post).
Why sitelinks are important?
There are several factors, stated by industry experts. I’m going to describe you some of them.
1. Sitelinks can increase CTR by 64%
You might have presumed it. Whenever a user will see something different on google, I bet he will go straight to it. By showing sitelinks up, you will experience a big increase in CTR (click through rate).
In a case-study by PPCHero, they made A/B testing of pre and post sitelink situations. They recorded an increase of CTR from 1.16% to 1.9%, by almost 64%.
2. Sitelinks can build more trust and credibility
Google said, they show sitelinks when they will find it most fit for the users. Depending upon the quality and usability, they will serve them.
So users can guess, “Yeah, this site has sitelinks. Google trusts him and recommending these pages. So I can trust them too.” This is the basic concept how it gains trust over the website.
3. Sitelinks mean Google cares your website
In the seo industry, many people think Google shows sitelink for the sites they love. Obviously, they will feel a bit more authoritative compared to the others without.
Who doesn’t want to get inside their loving list? You’re here to know about it and I know you’re very much interested. So this is another important reason to set it up.
Getting google sitelinks
Guess what, sitelink is easy to get? Take a peek on the following bullet points:
- It’s automated. You can directly do nothing.
- There is no straightforward rule or coding.
- Google prefers to talk low on it.
Now it sounds a bit tough but it wouldn’t be a problem. All you have to do is, follow the best practices.
For Google’s unclear statement, no one including me can guaranty this is the exact method. Though according to my results and other SEOs the following methods are supposed to work faster.
1. Choose a unique brand name
Sitelinks are essentially depending on your brand name. Google needs to identify users prospective if they are looking for you or something else. They will decide upon to show up sitelink or not according to the intent.
For instance, let’s take our blog name “Blogging Spell”. It’s unique, no one is using it. So Google will be pretty sure, searches coming to our name is exactly referring to this blog. In this case, sitelink would be very much helpful for navigation.
You need to follow the same concept. Choose your website name wisely. Brainstorm your mind and come up with a unique, remarkable name.
Most importantly you should register domain name according to it. You are supposed to do it before starting your website.
Be careful, if you want sitelinks fast, don’t choose keyword matched domains. They are not identical, and google wouldn’t ideally grant sitelink unless your site is going viral.
2. Rank #1 for the brand search
How google will identify “facebook” is a name of social media, searchers coming to this name actually referring to facebook.com?
Possibility by the backlinks coming to facebook.com hyperlinked with the brand terms and ranking #1 for the brand searches. For this reason, they will assume “facebook” searches want to go straight facebook.com and sitelinks will be equally helpful to them.
So your goal should be ranking #1 for the brand terms. Create more and more authoritative backlinks diversified with brand terms such as brand, brand.com, www.brand.com. I’ve done it for bloggingspell.com, and now it is ranking #1 for any of these terms.
If your brand name is unique, you can easily rank on it. Whereas, your brand or domain name is keyword, and it could take years to rank #1. Sometimes you might not achieve it in your lifetime.
3. Use a clear-cut navigation
Sitelinks are served with the purpose to help navigating a website. A menu or navigation bar is of the same intention. So google might take some of your navigational pages into the sitelinks. It looks semantic and most relevant for the users.
For an example, our sitelinks contain the top navigational pages such as about, contact, archives, write for us, privacy and terms. It gives a clear idea how to navigate between internal pages. Therefore, google has decided to put them on.
While designing your site, push yourself into building a clear navigation and secondary navigation (if necessary) depending on the hierarchy. Generally, navigation is placed on the top, created with list tag that emphasizes on the important sections.
4. Add xml sitemap to Google Webmaster
Sitemap not only helps indexing contents, but also defines the most important pages. Google can use your sitemap priority to pick pages that will look most prominent for sitelinks.
According to Yoast’s sitemap for wordpress, the default priority hierarchy is:
- Homepage – 100%
- Pages – 80%
- Posts – 60%
Google will respond depending on the priority. In our sitemap, pages come right after the homepage by priority. As a result, the homepage + top six pages are current showing in our sitelinks.
By creating a xml sitemap and defining the priorities, you can enforce google to index your important pages or posts as sitelinks. You should submit sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools for a healthy crawling and indexing frequency.
5. Emphasize on internal linking
Internal link drives value from page to page. Google thinks, the most important page will have the highest number of internal links. The second most important pages will have the second highest number of internal links. The hierarchy goes in this way.
Google is about to show the most important pages as sitelinks. By doing internal links, you can instruct google, this is an important page and that could be indexed as a sitelink.
You can track your internal links from Google Webmaster Tools. In our case, the top six pages by internal links (after homepage) are showing up in sitelinks.
Google gave us a hint, how to improve the quality of sitelinks. I’m quoting the key steps:
There are best practices you can follow, however, to improve the quality of your sitelinks. For example, for your site’s internal links, make sure you use anchor text and alt text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition.
So make sure to use proper anchor texts for internal pages. Especially in your navigation, use titles that are descriptive. On the other side, navigation is side-wide. So it will play an important role in internal linking.
6. Raise brand awareness
In the following video by Matt Cutts (Google’s web spam head), he answered a question “how are sitelinks generated?”. Where he gave a tips:
Make sure that enough people know about your website. You want to be a reputable website and you want people to find out about your website because we don’t do it for every single query.
The main fact is, Google will not show sitelinks for every single query. They will track how many people are searching for your website and where they are going through. After all, if they believe, it will help users, they can show it up.
So you need to spread your brand name to make it reputable. Spend more and more time on branding your website through guest blogging, social media, comments, etc. Make your site popular so more people can come to your website by searching the name.
7. Produce more quality contents
Your focus is to make the website popular. Without quality materials, you can’t ever expect to make it happen. In the previous point, you’ve learned your website needs to be popular, reputable in order to gain sitelinks. So production of quality contents is a must.
Moreover, google looks to serve relevant and most informative contents to the users. If you lack in quality or provide irrelevant contents, they might not allow sitelink. So keep concerning how to produce more contents that are informative and relevant to the users.
8. Keep increasing traffic
In the phrase of making site popular, you will need more and more traffic. You will have to spread the name from people to people. For that, you will badly need traffic.
So rather invest your time and effort in building traffic. Promote your website on different platforms and make people pay visits. Soon Google will come to realize this site is pumping up and getting fit for sitelinks.
9. Stay calm
Last but not least. Matt didn’t forget to include it in his video:
If you don’t get the sitelinks, then you might just want to wait and be a little patient.
Sometimes google can test your domain age and authority. They will make sure if this site will stay in his service or fade away. In this case, it can take years. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get it anymore, you definitely will.
If you’ve followed the first eight steps, then keep calm and try improving them by more. Believe me, soon in a morning, you will be surprised to see sitelinks live.
Demote a sitelink
Yippee! You’ve got your sitelinks. Still you’re not happy. The problem could be unwanted pages that are appearing. Speaking frankly, that’s not a big deal, you should keep cheering because there is an easy solution out.
Google primarily doesn’t allow to add sitelinks, but you can demote them from Google Webmaster Tools. You can strip out unwanted sitelink from any search result. Just follow the steps:
- Login to Google Webmaster Tools.
- Click your preferred site.
- Go to Search Appearance > Sitelinks.
- For the label “For this search result:”, input the url which’s sitelink you want to demote. If you want to demote a sitelink for homepage, leave it blank.
- For the label “Demote this sitelink URL:”, input the url that you want to demote or remove from appearing.
- Click “Demote” button.
- Wait till Google refreshes sitelink.
- Demote will only work when your sitelinks are live.
- You can demote up to 100 urls.
- Demoted links can appear after 90 days. You might need to demote again.
Display sitelink search box
Do you feel pretty lost seeing a site-specific search box along the sitelinks? Perhaps you’ve searched YouTube, Quick Sprout or Walmart.
You shouldn’t worry because this is another feature you can enjoy. Ah! the same case, this is also algorithmic. You can’t manually do it. But this time Google spoke what to do exactly. There are three clear steps you should follow, and you’re done.
1. Install a working search engine
This is the first and foremost requirement. Install a working search engine on your site. Most of the blogging platforms have default search engines. You can use them if you wish. Otherwise, I would recommend using Google’s Custom Search.
2. Put specific schema.org markup
Next Google instructed to put a schema markup on your homepage. There are two options (1) JSON-LD and (2) Microdata, where JSON-LD is most recommended. Here is the code documentation you should follow.
Recommended: Get basic knowledge of schema markup here
3. Set a preferred canonical url
Put rel=”canonical” link element to your homepage from all homepage variations. It will help the crawler to choose correct url markup.
Speaking frankly, you might need to wait so long for the search box. The search-box will not appear unless you are becoming a gem of the industry. So try to give your best efforts.
Good news for wordpress users! “WordPress SEO by Yoast” plugin can make it easily. You shouldn’t worry about the markup, if you have this plugin installed. You can know further more on Yoast’s website.
Now’s your turn!
Sitelink is valuable, it can power up the visibility in search results. Simply following the steps can get you the desired result. You can expect to get it fast if you’ve done them correctly.
While it is not mandatory, all websites will have sitelinks. There are variations. Many big brands don’t have them yet. Though I will advise you to keep practicing for it with the prospect of higher CTR.
So what’s your opinion about google sitelinks? We will appreciate to know them in comments!
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