Google Runs a Test on More Site Links

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If you have used Google to do any searches online in the past few days, you may have noticed some intriguing results popping up on page one. It would appear that the search engine giant is experimenting with large groups of links for the top result to appear on page one.

Traditionally there are ten results appearing on each page of the search engine results. This still appears to be the case. But Google’s testing is adding several more links – up to twelve in some cases – below the main link for the top result.
Google 12 Sitelinks

What are these additional results for?

The idea appears to be to make it easier for people to navigate to the main areas of the top performing website in the search results. For example the major online retailer Play.com had the full twelve additional links below the home page link on the search results at the time of writing. These all pointed to various individual departments within the online store.

Amazon also featured twelve additional results, again all pointing to individual departments. Other retailers and results saw between six and twelve links below the first one, giving more depth to the first result.

Will they stay?

It is too early to say whether Google will carry on with these results. But they certainly have positive and negative points to think about. If you happen to own the site that reaches number one and you get more links to your site than you would otherwise, it will very likely increase the amount of traffic you are going to get.

However if you are positioned even at number two or three on the first page of results, you will now be far lower down the page. On a standard screen you can just about see the top of the second result right at the bottom of the screen, so it barely appears above the fold. The first expanded result takes up the lion’s share of that first page. The third result cannot even be viewed unless you scroll down – which you are less likely to do when faced with a monster result in the number one position.

Potential effects of the new search model that could be seen

There are many potential outcomes for your website (and your SEO company) that could result from this new model if it rolls out as a permanent feature:

•    It will become harder to get good clickthrough results in the 2nd and 3rd positions on page one
•    The competition to get to the top position will likely become even stronger
•    Sites that do manage to get into the number one position could experience a higher clickthrough rate because of the increased number of links

At present there is no way of telling whether Google will persist with these extended results. However they are likely to please and annoy equal numbers of people with them if they do. We shall be watching to see whether these results continue, and what kind of effect they have on SEO and search engine marketing.

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