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How to Manage Sitelinks (Multiline Search Results)

Google adds sitelinks to the results for when it thinks you’re looking for a specific site. You’ve probably seen multiline search results, such as those shown. How does this happen? More important, how can you make it happen for your site?

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Google calls these internal site links, um, sitelinks, and they’re intended to help users find their way into popular pages within a site when you search for that’s site domain name. Sitelinks also may appear when Google thinks you’re looking for that particular site, even though you didn’t search for the domain specifically.

Search for dummies, for instance, and the Dummies.com site appears, with sitelinks; search for search engine optimization for dummies, though, and none of the sites in the results, including Dummies.com, have sitelinks.

Google actually analyzes the site and tries to figure out which pages are significant. At the time of writing, there’s no direct way for you to tell Google which pages to use.

In the early days, Google created sitelinks for only very popular sites, but these days, many, many sites have sitelinks displayed in the search results now and then. So how can you tell Google which pages to use?

You do so indirectly, through site structure. Google looks at the site’s link structure, and if you have lots of links saying Contact Us that point to a particular page, that page may be picked up for a sitelink. Google may also look at folder structure.

If you have a products link pointing to a /products/ folder, it may give even more of a hint. Google also recommends using alt attributes to help create sitelinks, so if you have image links to pages you want to appear as sitelinks, remember to include an alt attribute in the <img> tag.

However, if you’re fortunate enough to be in the happy situation of having sitelinks, but don’t like one of the pages that Google is using, you can tell Google not to use it. Log into your Webmaster account, click the Site Configuration link in the left navigation bar, and then click the Sitelinks link.

You’ll be able to specify the pages you want to “demote” — the ones you don’t want appearing as sitelinks.

It may take “some time” for the blocked sitelink to no longer be used, and there’s an idiosyncrasy you should be aware of. Google says that blocking a sitelink is effective for 90 days after your most recent visit to the Sitelinks page, so you may want to put in your scheduling program a note to revisit every so often.

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