9 ways to get the sitelinks you want (and deserve!) [Summary of Search]

Organic sitelinks are the sub-links that appear under your homepage URL in search queries specific to your company.

Matt Cutts explaining how sitelinks are generated:

A typical company listing has 4-6 sitelinks meant to help users navigate your site directly from the search engine results page, rather than having to click your primary URL to navigate. Some URLs may have up to 12 sitelinks below the primary search result!

Organic sitelinks are great for users (and for you!)

There are many key benefits to organic sitelinks:

  • Users can quickly and easily gain access to a better-suited landing page than the homepage. This quick navigation option is great for the user and it reduces your organic bounce rate too.
  • Sitelinks provide a large presence on the search results pages. PPC Hero did some research into sitelinks, and found that, why they’re not clicked as often as the primary link, they do provide additional CTR and conversions. Read more the PPC Hero study. Showing 64% increases in PPC ad Click-Through-Rate with sitelinks
  • Having numerous – and well-crafted – sitelinks helps to make your brand look more popular. Big brand tends to have more, and better, sitelinks.

 

9 tips to get the sitelinks you want (and deserve!)

Typical sitelinks include a Contact Us page, plus other pages that look important to Google.

However, Google often misunderstands what the key pages are on your site! That’s why it’s crucial that companies watch over and adjust their sitelinks.

While you can’t specify sitelinks directly to Google, and they don’t disclose exactly how they choose organic sitelinks, there are key tactics you can use to get the sitelinks you want (and deserve!):

  1. Be #1! You will typically only get sitelinks for branded searches, such as for your company name. Sometimes the #1 result will get sitelinks as well, but it’s typically branded queries.

  1. Submit a sitemap.xml in Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). This appears to be a necessary step before sitelinks are “granted” by Google.

Demote undesirable sitelinks in Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) if you find that any are showing up.

To demote a sitelink URL:

  • On the Search Console homepage, click the site you want.
  • Under Search Appearance, click Sitelinks.
  • In the For this search result box, complete the URL for which you don’t want a specific sitelink URL to appear.
  • In the Demote this sitelink URL box, complete the URL of the sitelink you want to demote.
  • You can demote up to 100 URLs, and demotions are effective for 90 days from your last visit to the demotion page (no need to resubmit – just revisit the page).
  1. Look at what you’re linking to sitewide (stop linking or do nofollow), especially in your main navigation elements.

  2. Googlebot seems to like lists of links, including H2 tags with links to sections or pages and bulleted lists of links. Learn more here: http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/get-organic-google-sitelinks-long-form-content/

  3. Use rel=nofollow. Sometimes, privacy policies show up as sitelinks because they have a link on every page of the site. Use a rel=nofollow on pages that Google is incorrectly choosing as sitelinks.

  4. Optimize your pages. Ideally, your best pages should already be optimized, but make sure titles and meta-descriptions are in order.

  5. Inbound links look at where other sites are linking to (change your redirects or outreach to other sites and ask them to update their links).

  6. Googlebot prefers popular pages, including landing pages with volume in analytics.

Organic sitelink takeaways

While there is no direct formula for sitelinks, these tips can help you better communicate to Googlebot what you would like to show up for your brand.

Since search results are often very personalized and based on Google’s algorithm, it may be that certain sitelinks appear for some users, but not for others.

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Can Google read JavaScript? Yes, but can it really? [SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

Google will eventually crawl all JavaScript, but they haven’t been indexing JavaScript pages very  successfully. Every year, we hear the same story: Google says it’s  getting better at crawling and indexing Javascript. Except crawling JavaScript, and crawling ALL JavaScript are clearly two different accomplishments.

Google can crawl it, render it, but just doesn’t seem to use it in the same way as optimized content. JavaScript pages can’t seem to rank as well in search engines, from what we’ve seen. Title tags come through here and there, but not consistently.

Although, with the ease of development that JavaScript frameworks offer, it can be difficult to justify optimization with plain text and images. Here are some important questions to consider:

1. Fail gracefully

For visitors without JavaScript – either bot or human – offering some sort of page content has always been important. Showing plain text and image content when JavaScript is off embraces the best practice of “failing gracefully.”

2. How quickly do you want results?

For many sites, faster rankings means a faster path to revenue. Where pure JavaScript offers a compelling business case, it could be prioritized over “search engine friendliness.” For most sites, the extra visibility is worth extra work optimizing in the most search-friendly ways possible.

 3. Is Google responding correctly to a test

The entire site doesn’t have to be converted to JavaScript. Instead, use simple one page tests and check Google’s ‘crawlability.” Is Google understanding the DOM, and extracting titles, images and content correctly?

4. What other Google bots need to access your content?

There are actually a variety of bots across Google’s many services. Google employs specific bots for their image search, ad services, product listing feeds, etc. Try accessing these with your test. Also, definitely keep your schema/rich snippet code easily accessible: Google has specifically warned that it cannot be found inside of javascript objects.

 5. Test with all of Google’s tools:

Speaking of Google’s bots, try using Google’s many tools for understanding and analyzing webpages. Seeing any problems here is a serious red flag for your JavaScript. But even if these render JavaScript, Google may not be ranking your pages as well as they would “search friendly” pages.

Bing is rising

Google isn’t the only search engine in town. Even without Yahoo and AOL numbers, Bing’s market share has been increasing steadily year over year. Bing had 21.4 percent market share last year, not counting partnerships with Apple, Yahoo or AOL. That’s getting to be a huge chunk of users.

Bing especially has trouble with images inside javascript objects. Bing’s version of the fetch and render tool may display a rendered page, but bing isn’t going to show images in its image results, and the regular results will be inconsistent.

Social Media

Plain text and image content is also ideal for social media sharing. When a page is shared, most social media sites and can parse the simple text description and image right out – unless there is JavaScript. For most social networks, rich snippets such as open graph and twitter cards could help for the established social networks – but with new social networks (WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc) popping up every year, it would be best to expose the page content as plain text.

Google’s JavaScript support is constantly improving. Having a Javascript app on the landing page is often needlessly complex. As of this writing, having an optimized version does appear to still be necessary. Maybe next year’s announcement that Google is crawling JavaScript will be followed by a more robust crawl, but there are plenty of other sites embracing “search engine friendliness”; Your site should too, in order to be competitive.

 

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The care and feeding of images: Optimizing your site’s images [SUMMARY OF SEARCH]

 

SUMMARY OF SEARCH | April 2016
The care and feeding of images: Optimizing your site’s images

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 1.13.09 AM

Google’s recent changes to search results means you can expect organic traffic to decline: There are more ads at the top for many queries, but Google may have also expanded the display in images in search results. There wasn’t an official announcement, but anecdotal evidence from the last several weeks proves this to be true.

Speedy 

Google loves speed. It’s because users love speed. A search engine that delivers speedy results can certainly expect to dominate market share. With exponential rise of mobile search, speed is more important than ever.

– Images should be sampled down to 72 dpi/ppi.
If needed, 96 ppi should be the absolute maximum. In photo editing apps such as Adobe Photoshop, this is usually found in a menu item named “Image Settings.”

 

– Try to scale images appropriately.

Increase width if needed, but rely on recommendations from http://gtmetrix.com and https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ to gauge the best size (one or both will recommend images are scaled down, if needed).

 

Experimentation here will help optimize user experience for the best load times and that’s a great investment of time. When editing your photos, this is also found in “Image Settings” in your image editing app.

 

Relevant
Google’s patents around reading text in images go way back. But they are not perfect, and if your image is of a certain item like a punching bag, there is no way for Google to instinctively “know” that.

 

– Keywords used in the image filenames.
Use dashes instead of spaces or underscores between words. It used to be hotly debated by techies, but now is mostly accepted that Google doesn’t see underscores as spaces. Dashes are so much better, and an improvement for your human audience as well. Image filenames with a space between words can look like this to users:

punching%20bag.jpg

instead of the more pleasing

punching-bag.jpg

 

– ALT tags with keywords describing the product.
Use “punching bag” or “martial arts punching bag” instead of just “bag”. Use model numbers and serial numbers in ALT tags where appropriate. But not every image needs an ALT tag. The decorative squiggle image your site might use in its footer doesn’t really need an ALT tag.

 

– Use the Title attribute for images
The (lesser) title attribute for images can usually fill with the same content as the alt tag. In some browsers, this text will popup when a user hovers their mouse over the image. Consider situations where you might want text other than the ALT tag here, but they are often very similar.

 

– Put captions below the photos.
Text content in the same <div> tag as the photo will help describe your images to Google. Or use the <figcaption> tag when using the <figure> tag for images.

 

Rankbrain
Google’s Rankbrain is an artificial intelligence system that helps Google return the most relevant search results for users. If users expect – and especially click – images for a certain query, Rankbrain is going to show more images for those queries.

 

– Prioritize images for related queries.
When someone types is a query “photos of dogs”, Rankbrain correctly guesses that a large block of dog photos should be shown.

 

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