Google Sitelinks – those extra links Google adds below the main brand URL

Have you ever wondered why some businesses get additional links below their main URL in Google search results? They are called sitelinks and get displayed for branded searches where the result is already in the top position.
9 Jan, 2019

What are sitelinks?

Have you ever wondered why some businesses get additional links below their main URL in Google search results?

A bit like these below for BMW…

BMW sitelinks in Google SERPs screenshot

BMW website in Google Search Results showing Sitelinks

They are what are called Sitelinks and consist of up to 6 additional links for brands or publishers when you search for them on Google. Sitelinks deep link to other pages in your site, helping users to quickly navigate to other useful pages on your site.

When do sitelinks appear?

Google displays sitelinks for search results for brands and major publishers, and not usually for other searches. In other words, you would need to be searching for a business or a known brand.

They appear on desktop Google search as well as on mobile.

Only one site in any one search result page will be displayed with sitelinks. They will be displayed for the number 1 ranking organic search only, just below the sponsored ads and rich snippets.

Can I influence what Google displays in my sitelinks?

Yes… and no.

Google pulls in sitelinks automatically, rather than letting publishers choose what they want to feature. This can be a bit inconvenient.

You used to be able to remove (or demote) sitelinks, but now Google claim that they know best, and so decide themselves which links to show!

There are some obvious pointers to ensuring you get listed with sitelinks, though:

  • Rank number 1 for your brand! You should be able to achieve this. Your brand name is likely to be less competitive than your target keywords!
  • Make sure Google can spider your site and find your most important pages (XML sitemaps – make sure you have published this technical list of all your pages and posts (and make sure you keep it up-to-date when you add new content); Robots.txt – make sure your robots.txt file isn’t hindering search engine visits; Navigational / Menu links – usually, your key pages would be included in your main site navigation);
  • Ensure your key pages have plenty of internal links. There is some evidence that Google takes the number of internal/external links into account when judging the importance of pages for sitelinks. This makes sense really, as in any normal website you would expect the most important (key) pages would be the ones with the most links into them. So, make sure your key pages have lots of inbound links. When you write blog posts or news items, try to link to one or more of your key pages;
  • Plus, all other sound SEO advice (speed, mobile friendliness, rich informative content, etc.).

It’s important to understand that Google frequently changes the rules on this sort of thing. So, our advice is not to invest too much time and money on perfecting your sitelinks.

Sitelinks are good for my site then?

We think so, yes.

Sitelinks can be a little bit of a double-edged sword. Even if you can get Google to display them, they might not necessarily be the links you would have chosen to display. Pages that are removed from your main site navigation may continue to appear in your sitelinks for some time afterwards. They also tend to have truncated meta descriptions, rather than the carefully constructed ones that you create with your favourite SEO plugin.

Overall, though, we like sitelinks as they use up more SERP real estate space, pushing your competitors down the page and out of the site (especially on mobile). Searchers also get more choice of where to land on your site – your home page might not always look appealing on SERPs, but they might spot a deeper link on your site that they can jump straight into.

In summary, sitelinks can improve the click-through rate (CTR) from your organic search appearances.

Some sitelinks show a site search box

If your site receives a high volume of branded search queries, it is likely that Google will display a site search box within your sitelinks. This is highlighted in the Health and Safety Executive example below. This allows searchers to restrict their Google search to just that one website, and would be a real boost to your organic search traffic if you could get it!

Example of sitelinks with site search box

HSE Google SERPs with a site search box

Moz has a useful article on the site search box in sitelinks here. Worth a read.

If you need any help with structuring your website to stand the best possible chance of getting sitelinks, please drop us a line using our contact form on this page.

We love comments and social shares – so if you have found this article on Google Sitelinks useful, you know what to do 🙂


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