What Are Google Site Links? (+ Do They Even Work For SEO?)
Getting to the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) for keywords you’re trying to rank for can make a meaningful impact on your business through more organic search traffic and, hopefully, increased conversions.
But there is more than one way your website can show up at the top of Google’s search results.
Google sitelinks are a special kind of link that can accompany the top spot on a results page, and they can help you get even more out of that ranking if you’re lucky enough to land there.
Let’s get into what exactly Google sitelinks are, what they mean for SEO, and best practices you can use to try to get your own sitelinks to appear.
What Are Google Sitelinks?
The results page of Google doesn’t always look the same. Some sites that reach the number one spot are accompanied by up to 6 additional links to pages on the top website.
Here’s an example of what Google sitelinks look like today:
Searching for popular food publication Bon Appétit results not only in a link to their publication in the top spot but also in four additional direct links to popular pages on their website.
Searchers looking specifically for recipes, dinner ideas, videos, or weeknight meals, can bypass the homepage and navigate directly to the page that’s most relevant to their search intent.
The way these Google sitelinks appear can change from time to time and depending on how many sitelinks are included for a given search result, they all function the same way.
Bon Appétit’s search result also includes a sitelinks search bar, which doesn’t always appear with Google sitelinks:
The search bar enables users to find the specific content they’re looking for even faster. Instead of clicking around the Bon Appétit website to find a specific recipe they’re looking for, they can just search for it directly from the sitelinks search bar.
Sitelinks most commonly appear for branded terms, but can also appear for informational queries. You can’t request them, and it’s basically up to Google to determine who gets them. There are things you can do to increase your chances, which we’ll get into a little later.
So, do these additional links have anything to do with SEO? Do your SEO efforts increase the chances of getting Google sitelinks to appear if your website is in the top spot?
Google Sitelinks and SEO
Google sitelinks aren’t directly related to SEO, in that the usual technical SEO optimizations, backlinking and business listings do not increase your chances of getting sitelinks under the search result for your website.
Additionally, whether or not sitelinks appear under the result for your website doesn’t have direct bearing on how high you appear in search results. For example, when you search for your brand name, your website might appear in the top spot along with sitelinks. However, that doesn’t increase your chances of ranking for the various keywords you might be targetting.
The primary purpose of Google sitelinks, according to their own documentation about this feature, is to “save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re looking for.”
In other words, sitelinks are primarily a UX feature. They won’t help you reach the top spot, but if you do land in that coveted position, having sitelinks comes with some great benefits.
Let’s talk about what those benefits are.
Benefits of Google Sitelinks
If you reached top of the SERPs for a keyword related to your niche and didn’t have sitelinks, then one day they appeared, you’d probably notice some meaningful changes to our metrics.
Here’s how getting Google sitelinks can help your business.
Simply put, Google sitelinks take up space. The more space they take up under your search result, the further down below the fold all the other results get pushed. This maks your brand look more important and impactful, draws the eye to the various pages on your site that appear as sitelinks, and removes the following search results largely out of view.
As a result of your search result and sitelinks taking up more real estate on Google’s SERP, sitelinks increase the click-through rate of your result. This means that on top of the high CTR that top search results enjoy, sitelinks lead to additional clicks.
Sitelinks make it significantly easier for users to find the information they’re looking for quickly. Google algorithmically determines which pages show up as sitelinks, using the pages that they think will be most useful to users.
If you get the sitelink searchbar as well, users can easily bypass a bunch of clicks on your website to find precisely what they need.
Even if users don’t know what sitelinks are or don’t notice that they’re a unique feature of some search results, these extra links create an intuitive impression that Google trusts the website being presented. In turn, that gives people who come across your search result a positive impression of you as a credible business.
Google Site Links Best Practices
Although you can’t exactly optimize for Google sitelinks the way you can for SEO, and you can’t manipulate which pages appear in your sitelinks if you do get the feature, there are things you can do to make it easy for Google to create proper sitelinks if their algorithm judges your site as a good candidate for them.
Consider our site architecture
Google generally uses your site architecture to determine which pages should be included as sitelinks. This refers to the hierarchical arrangement of the various pages on your website. Having a well structured sie with a neat, easy to navigate site architecture is favorable and can help ensure that the best, most important pages get featured in your sitelinks
Use internal linking
Another way that Google’s bots determine the relative importance of the various pages on your website is through your internal linking structure. Aim to use plenty of relevant internal links throughout your site, when appropriate. Don’t force internal links, but if there is an opportunity to create one, take it.
The anchor text that ou use for your internal links can also help Google’s algorithm better undersand the relevance of different pages. You can make the most of it by using descriptive anchor text rather than generic link text.
Pay attention to page titles and headings
Your page names, headings, and tables of contents on pages can all end up in your sitelink text. Aim for clear, informative headings and titles that don’t overlap too much. For example, having a page called “about our brand” and another called “about our process” might be a bit too similar, confusing Google about which to include.
You can noindex pages
This should only be done rarely, but if a page shows up in your sitelinks that you really don’t think should be there, you can deindex it. This prevents it from showing up in any Google search results, including as a sitelink.
Add structured data
Structured data is a standardized format that you can use to give Google more information about what exists on each page on our site. It allows you to classify the content so that Google can quickly understand what each page contains and how the information is organized.
Your site HTML can be edited directly to add structured data, or the easier option to use one of many plugins for WordPress and other platfroms that enable you to add structured data without coding.
Avoid repetitive pages
If you have multiple locations on your site with more or less similar content, it’s best to consolidate it or clean it up. It makes your site appear poorly organized, sloppy, and difficult for both Google’s bots and human users to navigate.
Easier said than done, we know. But for people to see your Google sitelinks, your result has to be in the top spot in Google. The second result on a SERP doesn’t get any sitelinks.
This means that all of your usual SEO optimizations, such as getting plenty of high-quality backlinks, ensuring the technical SEO on your website is taken care of, having all your listings up to date, and regularly creating top-tier content will help you reach the spot where sitelinks can start driving more clicks to your website.
Search by influence sitelinks
This isn’t confirmed by Google, but many SEOs suspect that the search queries that people use to discover your website, including branded search queries, might influence which pages show up in sitelinks. While you can’t influence what people search to find you, it’s reassuring to know that this might be one of the determinants of sitelinks, since it should help click through rates.
Google sitelinks, the extra links for specific pages that sometimes appear under Google search results, give users an easier way to find what they’re looking for, and help you stand out even more in search results.
A well-organized website with coherent site architecture can help ensure that the sitelinks generated by Google are genuinely helpful. Loganix’s SEO packages can help ensure your site and SEO strategy are in the best shape possible, so you have a chance to land at the top of the SERPs where sitelinks can drive even more traffic to your site.