Earlier this week, Google starting showing much expanded site links in its search results for brand type searches.
A search for many brand names will now show 12 expanded site links beneath the main results as in the one shown below for Marks & Spencer. Previously, much smaller site links were shown. The number one site in a search like this one now occupies the lion’s share of the visible part of your screen with other results being pushed further down.
This makes a lot of sense because if you know exactly which site you are searching for, why not show as much as possible about the pages and content of that site directly in the search results screen? Why give much prominence to other sites at all?
This means that many directory sites and some other sites are effectively relegated and occupy a smaller proportion of the total space on page 1.
For expanded site links to appear, your site must be the unquestionable result to show. I did see expanded site links for www.adjuice.co.uk on Tuesday but they disappeared shortly afterwards, presumably because of the other business in the U.S. trading under the same name. Humbug. 🙁
Also, on testing 20 or 30 search queries, I was unable to spot the reasons why some other sites did not appear with expanded site links when they seemed to be obvious candidates.
One implication of the new expanded site links is that it is even more important to make sure you have entered meaningful text in your meta description tags and page title tags because these now have much higher prominence. Mind you, it is only the first part of the meta description tag that appears so you should always try to get the main message in your meta description tags across in the first few words of the tag, as M&S have done. (Note to self:”must check all clients’ tags are showing the best results!”).
Another implication is to review which site links are appearing because you can control, to some extent, which ones are shown. If you have site links appearing for pages that you do not wish to promote as much, then you can block these site links in your Google Webmaster Tools Account.
There are some other issues where Google does not appear to have got it quite right yet and is interpreting exact match keyword domain names as brand names. This is sometimes the case but not always, as pointed out by Dave Oremland in his comment on Andrew Shotland’s post Google SuperSize SiteLinks = SuperSize SEO Buzz Kill.
Another one that might be questioned is that a search (using google.co.uk) on “DIY” returns B&Q (www.diy.com) with expanded site links. This is not really a brand search (although B&Q might try and argue that they and DIY are one and the same thing!) but presumably the expanded site links are shown because B&Q is such an authority on DIY. Is this what the surfer wants to see?
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