Google Sitelinks Expanded, But Improved?
Google dropped a relative whopper on the search engine community today, launching several "improvements" to the way Sitelinks are organized/presented in search results.
Sitelinks were first launched on Google five years ago as a single row of just four links. Sitelinks have been useful to Google users as they are able to navigate more quickly to the most relevant section of the site. For sites that cover vast Web expanses, Sitelinks were seen as a virtual SEO salvation.
Over time, Google has modified the appearance of Sitelinks, first rearranging them into a column of links for improved readability, then doubling the number of links which brought to the fore additional content, and finally some changes to the algorithms which generated and ranked the list. Today's Sitelinks related announcement however is likely the most significant yet.
According to Google, "Sitelinks will now be full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text—similar to regular results—making it even easier to find the section of the site you want. We’re also increasing the maximum number of Sitelinks per query from eight to 12."
Google also indicated that it has begun combining Sitelink ranking with regular result ranking to produce a higher quality list of links. Google's aim in this regard is to reduce link duplication and create a better organized search result page.
Website Magazine readers will keep track of this important issue. As it stands today, the extended sitelinks are likely focused exclusively on sites ranking for very specific, very brand centric search terms - as seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art screenshot example below (which includes the new extended Sitelinks).