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March 2, 2010

Supercharging Your Descriptions With Sitelinks

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Sitelinks in Google search are handy, shiny and new. But what can they do for you? For the answer, you’ve come to the right place.

Speakers:

Jerry Dischler, Senior Product Manager, Google Inc.
Vanessa Fox, Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land
Ariel Sumeruk, Head Business Intelligence, Clicks2Customers

Sitelinks session: Ariel Sumeruk, Jerry Dischler, Vanessa Fox

Jerry from Google is going to talk about the ad side and organic side of Sitelinks. Organic will be covered first.

What are Sitelinks?

Sitelinks help users navigate your site. Our system analyzes link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will help save users time. One line Sitelinks and two-column Sitelinks are both delivered.

Two-column Sitelinks are showed when they believe the result is the most authoritative for a particular query. One line Sitelinks show when they believe the result is highly relevant but not necessarily authoritative for a particular query.

Tips to get better Sitelinks

  • First and foremost, create a site that is well-structured and easy for users to navigate.
  • Use meaningful page titles
  • Pay attention to anchor text throughout your site
  • Avoid boilerplate and repeated text
  • Also consider headers and other content on each page

If there’s consistency across titles, anchor text, navigation, etc., that’s a good signal for Sitelinks.

Turning Off Sitelinks

You can block Sitelinks for up to 90 days via Webmaster Tools. If less than 3 unblocked Sitelinks, no Sitelinks will appear for your site.

Breadcrumbs

This was rolled out more recently and is related to Sitelinks.

  • In place of the normal URL is a site hierarchy that shows where the result fits.
  • Each level of the hierarchy is a clickable link
  • Must have a clear site hierarchy and visible, linked breadcrumbs on your site for breadcrumbs to show.

Now for the paid side.

What are Ad Sitelinks?

Ad Sitelinks is a new feature of AdWords that allows you to attract more users and move them further down the purchase funnel by providing additional links to content deeper within your sites. They’ll accept 10 links from you but will only show 4, based on the query. They show these ads Sitelinks for navigational results.

Choosing Ad Sitelinks

  • User segmentation: Ad Sitelinks can help you segment your user before they ever reach your site.
  • Brand segmentation: Your core brand may have several sub-brands. You can highlight those segments and leverage your core brand.
  • Most Valuable Pages (MVPs): Ad Sitelinks can let you direct traffic to the most popular pages

Writing Link Text

  • Clear calls to action: If you are directing users to pages with actionable content, make those actions clear in the ad text.
  • Briefer is better: Users are more likely to click on short, clear links than longer, more descriptive links.
  • Use landing page language: Prominently display the language from your link on the associated landing page so users are more likely to stay on the page and explore their options.

Ariel takes the podium next. Ad Sitelinks are managed as a campaign-level setting. He’d like to see Google consider moving it into a group-level setting.

  • Google doesn’t provide you with a separate report on Sitelink performance.
  • There is no info on how many times Sitelinks get triggered.
  • Click costs get assigned to keywords generating impressions in the usual manner.

How to get specific performance metrics?

  • We provide unique IDs to all the Sitelinks
  • This enables us to monitor which and how many clicks each Sitelink got
  • We then link the information back to the originating group through the adcopyid
  • We analyze the stats for groups between the first and last Sitelink occurrence

Clicks on Sitelinks are a small percentage of total traffic to triggering groups (2 percent to 10 percent in their experience). About 6 percent of clicks on related ad copy were on Sitelink. This doesn’t mean that 6 percent of clicks happen on a Sitelink when it actually shows. It is likely to be more as Sitelinks do not always show. This means the observed increase in CTR could be due to higher visibility of the ad as a whole.

Do Sitelinks affect shopping behavior?

We compared the percentage of sales happening in Department A before and after the introduction of Sitelinks on brand terms.

There are 2 comparisons:

  1. Year on year of the same period
  2. A comparison to the 6 weeks prior to the introduction of a site

Brand terms: contribution to total revenue by departments for which Sitelinks were added (YoY comparison over same period)

Before Sitelinks: 55.96 percent

After Sitelinks: 64.41 percent

Conclusion

Useful for running tests on brand terms: these are more likely to be eligible for Sitelinks

Could be used to push competitors further down the page: increase above the fold dominance

Also pushes own natural search results down, which is problematic if you rank poorly

Check out their blog at www.clicks2customers.com/c2cblog for more info as they share it.

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5 responses to “Supercharging Your Descriptions With Sitelinks”

  1. Sammy Nams writes:

    “create a site that is well-structured and easy for users to navigate”

    Very true. I inherited some poorly structured sites and constantly fight to get usable sitelinks on my branded serps. Good stuff! Wish I made it to SMX :( Hopefully, I won’t miss SES.

  2. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with Sitelinks out in the wild, Sammy. If you go, say hi to Susan at SES New York!

  3. Wiesner Vos writes:

    Nice summary. Have a look at some site link data on the Clicks2Customers blog for those who missed SMX West: http://www.clicks2customers.com/c2cblog/measuring-site-link-performance-volume-i-click-through-rate.html

  4. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Thanks for the follow up resource, Wiesner!

  5. Donald writes:

    Hi,
    Were you at the ad tech show last fall and presentg alongside Bruce Clay? You look familiar…

    Anyways, this article is helpful. Thank you for writing.

    I did some research on this topic and have found that a sites age may have a lot to do with activating sitelinks. I hear a site with sitelinks would be at least one year old, but most say 2-3 years of age is a requirement.
    Was wondering how you felt about statement.

    Donald



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