Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Aug. 16 boosted the number of sitelinks from eight to 12 and added a URL and one line of snippet text to make it easier for users to find areas of a Website they're searching for.
Sitelinks existed for years to route users to different parts of a Website they might be interested in. For example, a listing for an amusement park might list links to the park hours, food and beverages, rides and other attractions.
Early on, sitelinks were limited to a row four, but then got bumped to two columns of four, for eight total links. Now they stand at 12, with six links in one column and six in another.
"It turns out that sitelinks are quite useful because they can help predict which sections of the site you want to visit," explained Daniel Rocha, a Google software engineer for Sitelinks.
"Even if you didn't specify your task in the query, sitelinks help you quickly navigate to the most relevant part of the site, which is particularly handy for large and complex Websites. Sitelinks can also give you a good overview of a Website's content, and let webmasters expose areas of the site that visitors may not know about."
The URL and snippet text will offer users more insight into what they're searching for, improving their ability to decide what to click on.
Google also combined sitelink ranking with regular result ranking. Specifically, all results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks, and all results from other sites will appear below them.
Google said these sitelink changes are in effect now, in all supported languages to anyone using a modern browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or IE 7 and above.
One thing the extra sitelinks should put to bed is the criticism Google has gotten over the years from people who have come to despise the company's "10 blue links" layout of search results.
Those who dislike Google, including startups that sought to challenge the company have for the last 5 or 6 years complained that people are tired of the "10 blue links" Google shows when people do a search.
But the reality is that there really haven't been 10 blue links for awhile thanks to the sitelinks, which obviously provide additional links within the context of those 10 blue links.
With 12 sitelinks, there could be over 100 links spread across those first 10 blue links. Perhaps people will start complaining about "100 blue links" instead. Another point the additional links challenges is the idea that Google is Spartan.
Sure, the front door to Google.com remains relatively clutter free, but the same can no longer be said for the search results pages, which in addition to the myriad sitelinks include tons of ads and buttons for results refinement. All in the name of making more money.