Google Megasitelinks: An “Algorithmic Change” to Google Sitelinks

Google Megasitelinks: An “Algorithmic Change” to Google Sitelinks

One of the bigger pieces of search industry news today is that Google has released an algorithmic change they’re calling “Megasitelinks.”

A Quick Primer on Google Megasitelinks

Aside from having a completely uninspiring codename, here’s what we know about Google Megasitelinks:

  • Megasitelinks are part of 30 search quality improvements Google worked on in December, 2011.
  • Being touted as an improvement to the existing Sitelinks display algorithm.
  • Said to use visitor’s location in search results to emphasize most important content in Sitelinks area.

Known Problems in Google Sitelinks

Since these new Megasitelinks are so new, there’s a lot that remains to be seen with how these conceptual changes will change what Google users see. At the core of it all, it makes sense – Google wants to improve user experience and geo-relevant information has been proven to do that in the past.

One of the most frustrating things about the existing Google Sitelinks platform has been the lack of webmaster input. In Google’s Webmaster Tools, there are certainly “controls” where a webmaster can offer up suggested suppression lists to prevent certain URLs from appearing in the Sitelinks area. In most cases though – those “suggestions” that come from a webmaster are disregarded.

No joke, I have more than five clients at this point in time who are experiencing frustration with the Sitelinks controls and the lack of influence their suggested changes actually have on the SERPs.

Naturally, this leads me to ask one thing…

Is Megasitelinks a Step Forward or Backward?

I’ve logged in to a few Google Webmaster Tools accounts this evening and have not seen any UI changes in the controls or suppression lists.

To be fair, I didn’t really expect to though. I guess you could say that I was hoping for something new to be in there for us as marketers and site owners to work with.

Here’s the thing for me. If Google Sitelinks is now a program that uses an intelligent algorithm to display a subset of pages relevant to a searcher’s query, then there needs to be functional controls in place for them – or no controls at all. The grey area where Google asks for suggestions but ignores them is an old act.

In other words, Google – please don’t waste our time.

Changes in Sitelinks We Could Actually Use

If Google is committed to making the most of the Sitelinks tools, it has to be a two way street where they focus on user experience and search quality and they allow us as webmasters to permit certain content from being displayed, hidden, etc.

Other items that would be great to see include:

  • Sitelinks Analytics: Where were Sitelinks displayed? When were Sitelinks used over traditional organic listings? For what queries? Which Sitelinks have appeared in which position for which terms? (Without incredibly deep analytical reporting) We’re flying blind here, Google.
  • Enhanced Geographical Support: Here’s a practical use case. A franchise has a store locator that performs well in Sitelinks now. Using the enhanced geographical inferences Google can make, opportunities should exist where said franchise can promote locations, offers, coupons, etc. within their Sitelinks display area.
  • Sitelinks Suggestions: Google’s Webmaster Tools does a good job of making suggestions on crawl issues, content issues, etc. Nowhere though are indicators as they pertain to Sitelinks improvements. If Google can’t give us the ability to block out content from appearing in the Sitelinks area – why not provide us with some additional insights on why the links that do appear are always there? (Hint: They’d have to share too much about their linking values to make this happen. Still, it’s wish list.)

Megasitelinks and Online Reputation Management Issues

I’ve witnessed a number of branded search results that provided companies with a free pass from a lot of negative reviews. In particular, the Sitelinks 12-pack growth has done a lot to push negative press in the SERPs below the fold. That’s good for brands, bad for searchers. I won’t get into the entire RoR-style-site issues — but it’s clear that geographically relevant Sitelinks will sway ORM issues one way or another depending on what’s shown.

What do you think about the news of Google’s Megasitelinks? Are you expecting them to prove as an innovation – or flop? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

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