Is Google Choosing Sitelinks Depending on a Link’s Visual and Functional Importance?

September 13, 2015

According to new patent filings it seems that Google may be in the process of showing site links for pages apart from the home pages. Some users tested this by performing a query on non English version of Google. These queries were returned with search results that showed internal pages in the sitelinks. Several users have reported similar results. However a few others have not been able to generate the same results. One user tested the search engine several times to see whether he could get descriptions to sitelinks in the English version. He however was able to get the links below for the search result, known as quicklinks, albeit without the descriptions.

Is Google Choosing Sitelinks Depending on a Link’s Visual and Functional Importance

What are Sitelinks?
Sitelinks are often provided by search engines which are displayed in the additional results. According to Google it aids users in navigating a website. Their algorithm evaluates the link structure and finds shortcut links that help save time and land right on the information they are looking for. Previously Google had patented its sitelinks feature and the procedure of choosing pages to present as sitelinks. In June however I noticed that Google was granted a new sitelinks related patent followed by another sitelinks related patent application with the same name. The earlier application was more focused on utilizing user behavior to display those links. The newer patent filed was however different in approach. Google may be testing a feature for choosing links that pass more PageRank. The newest patens from Google are similar to this approach. A score that appears on the pages is based on the visual location of the link on that page.

The patent is however indicative of the fact that user behavior is still essential. The patent is also of the view that some links may appear in multiple locations on one page and each will have separate scores for each location. The patent application and the granted patent conclude that Google may be trying to identify vital hyperlinks on a page it might try to show hyperlinks for.

The Sitelink Management System that the patent has discussed could be used for creating sitelinks. Optical Character Recognition is another tool that it speaks of. It may be used to look for tags that were used for the links. Some sites however, still do not return site links. This may be because they use images of text instead of text links. The OCR may not be in use for such links but that is slated to change soon.

Another thing that the patent discusses was the Hypertext Markup System that is used to track a set of links on a single page for instance main navigation tabs and footer tabs. These could contain duplicate links but will still be scored. The resulting score could be used to determine the functional significance of a particular link.

The factors that determine whether sitelinks appear for a search is dependent on whether Google is able to score the links on the home page of the site for being visually and functionally important. The site links may vary according to the query searched. It is time to start making changes to a site by searching the domain as well as site title results. What sitelinks appear then and if they do not appear, what changes can be made so that they do? This is something every website owner needs to start thinking about.

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