Sitelinks are becoming a more important part of an overall Internet presence for all industries. Sitelinks are the links that are directly underneath the main link for site results in a Google search. Those links tend to be related to the main link, focusing on more nuanced and precise categories within the main topic area. Depending on the way that the links are being promoted, they may even point to other pages within the main website that is being linked to.
The main advantage of sitelinks is simple: Having more links on a search engine listing creates a bigger chance that your website will be visited rather than the site of a competitor. There are other advantages as well, including:
less space on the search engine page for competitors
link juice and increased Google PageRank for all sublinked pages
increases trust in all listings that are linked
One of the most important questions for search engine optimization professionals in today’s online market is how to create sitelinks without link building efforts. Is there even a way to do this? Link building is becoming more difficult every cycle as Google continues to implement programs such as Penguin as well as Panda that punish the efforts of good companies who are simply trying to increase their online real estate. As a result, many companies have completely abandoned link building efforts. This actually results in the exact opposite effect of what Google purports to try to accomplish: With less relevant companies vying for top search engine slots, there is less relevant content to place in front of search engine queries.
However, sitelinks can actually be created without having to go through the muddy waters of link building and the constantly changing rules of Google algorithms. Below are just a few of the ways in which search engine professionals can create more leverage for their listings. Although the exact nature of what makes a sitelink appear is still a secret, the tactics below have been proven to work for reputable companies in the past.
Your Website Structure
The way that Google chooses sitelinks has a lot to do with the type of structure and organization that your website has. The more organized that your website is according to the algorithms that are currently in use by Google, the more likely that you will receive the appropriate sitelinks under your main link listing. One of the easiest ways to get started restructuring an unorganized website is through categorization.
The categorization of a website includes detailing the more nuanced parts of your website through specialized long tail keywords and other search engine tactics. Basically, do not treat your entire website as though it is one homogenous entity: Delve more deeply into the subject matter and organize your website as you would a term paper or the table of contents in a scientific book.
The Ease of Web Crawling
This has to do with organization, but it is more technically based than the tip above. At the same time that you detail the nuances of your website in your content and pictures, you must also do so in your coding. Be sure that the navigation of your website is not hidden behind a scripting language that Google does not recognize. Google should be able to easily follow the links that you provide in your website. Google Webmaster provides the very tools that you will need in order to create a website that is easy for Google and other major search engines to navigate. For the most part, you should use the tools that are provided by the search engine that you are looking to increase ranking on.
Organization includes internal links. The more effective that your internal link structure is to a human being, the more effective that it will be to a Google site crawler. Make sure that all of your subcategories link back up to their parents where it is most appropriate. This will give you a positive feedback loop in two ways: The people who are already visiting your website will stay on it longer because they will be able to find references more easily. Secondly, your website will receive more consideration for sitelinks because of this increased stickiness on your website.
Internal linking also helps Google to recognize what is most important on a website. Parent categories will most likely be linked to a great deal. Subcategories will likely have links going out. This dichotomy helps Google to understand what parent categories and subcategories are. If that organization matches the schema that Google has set up for those keywords, then you are much more likely to have a high ranking page overall as well as plenty of sitelinks.
Increasing Web Traffic
As you continue to organize your website in the manner mentioned above, you should increase the web traffic that is already moving to your website. Not only this, but the increased organization will attract new traffic as your site moves up the rankings in the major search engines. As Google finds new ways to appropriately index your website, people will be able to more easily access those parts of the website that they find most useful.
In order to do this, be sure that each of your pages has title elements that are unique. The descriptions should be completely unique as well. If you need to hire a professional copywriter so that you do not have to repurpose content from another website, do so. The investment is more than worth it because of the longevity of good site content.
True Usefulness of a Website
All of the organization that you perform should be done with the intent of becoming truly useful to the end-user. You may be able to get click through’s for a while based upon a quick reorganization without much substance; however, these users will not stay for very long. As your web traffic drops off, so will the interest that Google has in your website. If this is the case, your search engine listing will gradually decrease until it is completely irrelevant to your industry.
The Final Word
Not only is it possible to get Google sitelinks without a link building strategy, it is actually required. The organizational process that you must go through in order to create appropriate sitelinks is a process that all top websites must incorporate into their web presence at some point or another. Go ahead and make this a priority now so that you do not have to deal with it later.
Be sure that your website has plenty of content for your target audience. After all, Google and other major search engines are trying to make their algorithms behave more like people every day. Even if you are able to get a few short-term clicks based on the weaknesses in the program, those weaknesses will be fixed. If the past record of Google tells you anything, short-term boosts in ranking will be punished retroactively. Therefore, it is better to initiate a long-term strategy now rather than trying to get the short-term sale when it comes to sitelinks.
Timothy Carter is the CRO for AudienceBloom. Since 1997 he's been helping businesses maximize their sales revenue from websites via content marketing, SEO and Internet Marketing strategies. Over the years he's written for publications like Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications.