Google Takes Control Of Your Sitelinks

Four Steps that Will Help you Google Proof Your Website

Demotion of SiteLinks Tool is Removed From Google Search Console

Google has made headlines yet again with the announcement that webmasters will no longer be able to demote their own sitelinks from the search engine.

The latest change to Google’s search algorithm has been announced. Webmasters will no longer be able to demote sitelinks through the Google Search Console.

What Are Sitelinks?

Four Steps that Will Help you Google Proof Your Website

Since 2007, it has been possible to inform Google if you prefer for a web page not to be featured in the sitelinks section of Google’s search results. Sitelinks are sublinks that are displayed beneath the main website listing on the results page. They offer a way for users to quickly navigate to the most relevant information that a site has to offer.

For instance, if you perform a search for the Marks and Spencer website but are actually looking for their latest Sales page, typically this will be displayed as a sitelink beneath the main result. You can click on this subpage to be taken directly to the content that interests you, instead of navigating your way through the M&S site.

The Impact of Google’s Update

We spoke to SEO consultants to learn how this update will affect how websites are ranked and appear within the Google search results pages, this is what we have learned.

Now that Google has removed the option to demote sitelinks through the Search Console, this means that webmasters must rely on Google to choose the most relevant pages to be featured in the snippet section. To some extent this has always been the case. Previously, webmasters were not able to elect the pages that they wanted to promote in this area. However, they could use the demote feature to ensure that less relevant pages would not show up in this section.

Google explains the reason for making this change. It is because “our algorithms have gotten much better at finding, creating and showing relevant sitelinks, and so we feel it’s time to simplify things. We only show sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user.”

Best Practice for Webmasters

Webmasters should follow the same principles of SEO that they would use to get pages ranked in the search engine, whether the aim is for a main organic listing or for a sitelink. Google recommends the following tips when considering your sitelink strategy.

  • Your website must have a clear structure for Google’s algorithm to understand. Webmasters should use relevant internal links with informative anchor text that avoids the use of repetition.
  • Always check that your webpages can be crawled correctly by Google using the ‘Fetch and Render’ feature within the Search Console. This ensures that all important pages within your site can be submitted to the search engine and will subsequently be considered by the algorithm for ranking.
  • Understandably, there will be sections of your website that you do not wish to have published within the search engine. Where this is the case, use a “noindex” meta tag on a specific page to prevent it from being crawled.

This news has not been received well by many members of the SEO community and John Mueller of Google has been in the firing line on Twitter’s social network. However, for now at least, Google looks set to take control of your sitelinks.