The Google Sitelinks Mystery

- February 3, 2009

What are Google Sitelinks and how does a website get them? There is no cut and dry strategy for this, but one can ensure that their website is set up in a way that Google will want to display these internal links to your website underneath the snippet in the search results. Basically, keeping your website architecture as simple as possible and hoping for the best seems to be the general mantra of website owners hoping that Google will be kind enough to bestow them the honor of including sitelinks underneath their listing.

I have noticed how much more prevalent sitelinks are becoming. Many more sites seem to be getting them and it really can help in identifying a website’s important pages. For instance, the sitelinks for Ruth’s Chris Steak House has the helpful link of “Our Locations”. This, for me, is always useful when looking up my favorite restaurant or business and wanting to find out if there is one in my area.

One big disadvantage of sitelinks, however, is that not only does Google not give you any specifics on how to get them (just the ability block them in Webmaster tools), but sometimes the sitelinks can point to a site’s dead page if it has recently gone through a redesign. Obviously, you can take care of this in Webmaster tools or just make sure that your redirects are implemented correctly.

There is also some erroneous information out there on how to get sitelinks. Some people think that having a good PageRank is a factor. That would make sense if there weren’t some sites out there with a PageRank of “2” that had sitelinks.   Another belief is that inbound links can influence Google, but, again there are many sites with few inbound links that have those precious sitelinks. The general consensus, however, is that the older the site and the more indexed pages the site has along with good site structure is the biggest influence.

There are multiple theories on how to get Google to display sitelinks and until we know algorithmically how they do it, most theories will probably be disproven one way or another. Matt Cutts himself stated that sitelinks are algorithmic and not human edited, so until there is major research on the issue, we’ll have to just go by that.

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