Sitelinks are links that are sometimes displayed under the top results in Google linking to internal pages of the site. Google explains these links are meant to help users navigate your site. These are shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they're looking for.
Our process for generating Sitelinks is completely automated. We show them when we think they'll be most useful to searchers, saving them time from hunting through web pages to find the information they are looking for.
The most persistent question was how did Google compile these links. Recently, Google has filed a patent which provides some answers.
Ranking the plurality of links based on at least one of a number of accesses associated with web pages corresponding to the plurality of links, a number of web pages with a link pointing to a web page corresponding to one of the plurality of links, how closely the search query matches information on web pages corresponding to each of the plurality of links or the user's history associated with accessing web pages corresponding to each of the plurality of links.
So what does it say? It says that the important factors in listing sitelinks are number of links pointing to that page, the close relation between the page and the search query and user's history associated with accessing web pages. The last one probably refers to the number of times the pages has been accessed by the users. This is a general indicator of the importance of the page.
William Slawski lists a few other factors that have been outlined in the patent.
- How long visitors stayed upon the page.
- If a visitor scrolled down the page, or clicked on a link without scrolling down.
- Information retrieval scores for the page, along with an indication of how good a match the page may be for the query that was used in the search.
- The likelihood that someone might make a purchase on that page.
- Other information that might indicate that someone would be interested in the page.
However, Google also uses mapping of the pages or some quality testing to determine the ordering of pages. The patent indicates that the log information for such quality lising might come from the search engines themselves or from webmasters who rank the pages in terms of their importance.
William lists the following factors that can be represented in the quality measure:
- Popularity associated with a web page,
- Likelihood that the information on a web page will be accessed by a user,
- Likelihood that the information will be useful to a user submitting a search query, or;
- Other factors associated with the quality of a web page
That sounds like a good measure for Google to earn revenues in future. Imagine top search results paying for display of related as well as sales pages. That will be one step from the conventional paid advertisements. How about mixing natural and paid search?