This week, Google rolled out a significant expansion of sitelinks, capping years of experimentation on the search feature. The changes have kicked off a big debate in the SEO community about how companies may be helped or hurt by the expanded sitelinks.
For those unfamiliar with sitelinks, they are links that appear underneath a search result that link to a sub-section of a website. As its “Inside Search” blog reveals, Google has been tweaking sitelinks since 2006, going from a small single line of sitelinks to the most recent version, which gives each sitelink its own full-size search result.
If you can’t see the expanded sitelinks yet, here are some illustrations using popular websites as examples.
Some people, like Marketing Pilgrim’s Frank Reed, think that the new sitelinks are overkill. Others, like some of the commenters at Search Engine Land, argue that the sitelinks are fine, if only Google would allow site owners to change sitelinks via Google’s Webmaster Tools. The one thing everyone agrees on, however, is that the new-look sitelinks make it even more important for brands (and personal brands) to secure the number one spot in Google search results and maintain interesting, content-rich websites.
What Google’s sitelinks change represents more than anything else is that the Web is constantly in flux. People will always turn to the Internet to find information — about the weather, about a new restaurant, or even about you. The way that people access that information, however, will change. In order to stay on top of your online reputation, it is important to stay current on the way search engines and social networks index and share information.
That’s what we’ve been doing at Reputation.com since 2006, and it’s what we’ll continue to do now and in the future.