What are Google Sitelinks & Why you want them
Are you familar with Google Sitelinks? Many of you know what they are, but perhaps you’re not quite sure what to call them. The next question is have you ever Googled your own business in the search bar? Of course you have, most of us do to see what types of things are coming up in Google search. We do this for a number of reasons including reputation management, but most of all, we do this to see if we get those nifty subheadings with our navigation menus. Basically, Google sitelinks give people searching specifically for your company fast access to your website with awesome subheadings.
For a visual example, and to make sure everyone is on the same page while we discuss Google sitelinks and how to get them, check out the search results for Plush Global Media below.
Firstly, you need to understand that achieving any sort of Google sitelinks, like the example above is NOT up to you the business owner or the webmaster or even your online marketing and SEO consultant – so please stop yelling at me. Basically, Google has a special algorithm in place that determines what’s important enough on your website to display in a sitelink. Like mentioned above, having Google sitelinks is pretty awesome, and you can achieve this by implementing good SEO practises on your website.
The one thing Google does make very easy however, is demoting a sitelink. If you look at the image again of Plush Media, you will see that we have a few unwanted sitelinks. For example the full http links, we would rather see those go. So, through Google webmaster tools we can easily accomplish this by asking to demote a sitelink.
Google Decides which Sitelinks to Display
Okay, so we’ve established that Google uses a secret algorithm to determine if a site is eligible for a sitelink or not. Google will only show sitelinks when they think it will be of use to the end users. Google is all about a friendly user experience, and how we the webmasters or marketing online professionals present our sites in a way that is completely and totally user friendly. Even a 404 page is important in how we present our sites.
And, our sitelinks are not even limited to just pages. Even categories, and archives from blogs can show up. If you take a look at our (Plush-media) sitelinks in the image above, you will clearly see that some of our virtual tours are showing – clearly we don’t want this. We would prefer an orderly line up of sitelinks. For example, here below is a perfect list of sitelinks for a real estate company we work for:
Obviously this only appears when you have a branded name. So, in order to see sitelinks based off any site, you have to actually Google search the company name. For more clarity, this means that when someone types into the Google search bar “plush-media.com”, the sitelinks along with your very own “knowledge graph” on the right hand side (this is your map location with a bit more info about the company underneath) will sometimes show up.
So, how the heck do I get these awesome Google sitelinks you speak of?
I am so very happy you asked!
When it comes to setting up a keyword strategy for your website, you must optimise for specific keywords in conjunction with your competitors, but more importantly you must also use branded keywords. The branded keywords for your business will obviously be your very own business name, and quite possibly a tagline or even another keyword or keyword phrase. For example, we are branding Plush Global Media Trusted Google Agency, and Outsource marketing in Spain – this may seem like a challenge or difficult, but branding your own name is actually the easiest part. If you have a unique business name, you’re already 90% there!
By far there is only one page on your entire website that is the most important when it comes to developing a keyword strategy that includes your own branding – this of course is the homepage. Your homepage has one task, and one task only from an SEO perspective: to rank for your brand. I can think of no meaningful website where this should be different.
Achieving sitelinks is easy of course, but it requires some work, a good keyword strategy and most of all, the right amount of time to properly market your business online.
Getting Google Sitelinks
Here are some important facts:
- Getting site links is completely and totally automated
- Webmasters or Marketing Online consultants can directly do nothing to achieve sitelinks
- There is no straightforward rule or coding involved
- Google of course keeps this topic on the down low, meaning they very rarely talk about it
As a marketing professional, and someone who pretty much reads blogs from industry leaders, Google’s own blog, and continued courses online – I will now explain to you our strategy that gets our clients sitelinks in the order they want.
#1 – Unique Branding
I’ve covered this concept above when referring to the best possible keywords strategy that includes branding your own business name. Once you’ve decided on a few branded keywords, you must optimise the page – more importantly the homepage. This is where an SEO plugin like Yoast comes in super handy.
#2 – Ranking Number 1 for the Branded Name (Keywords)
Of course this is the natural procession once the branded keyword begins to establish itself online. Most likely you have a unique brand name or business name, so achieving this won’t be difficult nor take too much time.
#3 – Website Navigation or Primary Menu
Above in this report I had also mentioned how much Google absolutely loves when a website is built specifically for the end user. This goes back to one very old and important rule when it comes to optimising a website – we must optimise for PEOPLE not for the search engines. So, with that said, in order to really get a grasp and establish sitelinks, we must make sure the sites navigation is completely user friendly.The main menu on the site is what promotes this idea, as well as the footer. Navigation is essentially the key, and therefore, Google will look at specifically how users navigate through your site. This of course happens when designing a website, and depending on the hierarchy of navigating through a site, in some cases even having a secondary menu would help.
#4 – XML Sitemaps
Sitemaps are very important, and you can get one very easily or visit your own Google Webmaster Tools for more details. Sitemaps allow us to tell Google how we want our site indexed in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). We put importance and an order on our site and how we present it when using sitemaps.
According to Yoast’s sitemap for WordPress the default hierarchy is as follows:
- Homepage = 100%
- Pages = 80%
- Posts = 60%
#5 – Internal Linking
Internal linking is almost as important as external links coming to your site. Of course when it comes to link building the more external we get, meaning the more other relevant high authority sites that link to us, the better. At the end of the day linking is how we rank. Google’s algo depends on links while crawling sites to index in the search engines. But, many are under the assumption that internal linking doesn’t hold much weight. From experience, and study, I can assure you that it is in fact very important, and when it comes to getting those Google sitelinks you want, we have to look at the internal linking of the site.
Internal links according to Google and other major search engines drive value for websites. Here is what Google is thinking or better yet, what their algo sees:
- The most important page will have the highest number of internal links
- The second most important page will have the second highest
- The third, the fourth and so on
Again, this goes back to hierarchy and how we maintain good navigation throughout the site for the end user.
Here’s a little hint from Google:
And, more importantly going back to “brand awareness”, Google states:
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.
#6 – Quality Content
Making the website incredibly popular amongst your niche, you must become the authority on everything about your business, product or services. Even if you are selling something as simple as hammers, you need to write about hammers, know which hammers are the best, and make your customers learn something completely new about hammers. It might sound odd but Google is making it clear that content is still king, and will be for some time to come.
Many in my industry have tried to dismiss content as any good factor in SEO or maintaining rankings in the SERP’s. Yet, year after year they are proven wrong. Now of course in 2015, Social Media has moved in with the king, and has taken its rightful place as queen. So far, and even looking at upcoming trends in 2016, this relationship looks set to last.
Fine, to be fair, we know link building is also essential and is far from dead. However, content is King, and social media today is Queen. Both require a strong presence with content, and even trending or hashtags. The more engaging you are with your audience or potential large clients, the faster you rise in the rankings for all your chosen keywords including the brand.
That’s a wrap!
So, just to summarize and leave you at least understanding a bit of what the heck I am talking about here is a short list:
- Branding is so important, this is done by including your branded keyword in title tags and meta descriptions
- Your basic run of the mill keywords are also important while optimising your pages to be SEO compliant and of course user friendly – remember, always optimise for PEOPLE, not for the search engines. Trying to impress Google might get you into hot water
- Using Yoast for your WordPress site will really help you get those Google sitelinks a little quicker
- Quality content on each page including branding and your keywords will help as well
- Internal links on your main pages (Navigation menu pages) will help for sure
- Getting set-up in with Google Webmaster tools and including a sitemap will help push things a bit further
- Including your branded keyword in link building campaigns (this is where you use your own business name or tagline in the anchor text) will get your brand up a lot quicker
To completely generalise the sitelinks, the ideal subheadings, and the one’s you want will match your menu; for example:
Products or Services
Finally, some more advice from the best source possible:
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.
Do you have any more questions? Or are you looking for some basic SEO advice? Leave a comment, and we will definitely reply.