How to Make Them Appear in Your Snippet


Sitelinks have been around for over 17 years. They help users navigate to important sections of websites directly from the SERP. You’ve surely seen sitelinks before—they appear below the Google search result, point to different pages of the website or to specific sections of the same page, and can take up to 90% of above-the-fold screen space. Through these links, users can discover useful web pages that they could have failed to spot otherwise.

But Google sitelinks didn’t always occupy the lion’s share of the screen. Back in 2009, they looked like a plain list of blue links with no page description. Getting them was useful but not game-changing.

Sitelinks in 2009

Today, grabbing user attention on SERPs is way more difficult due to the abundance of new SERP features. Yet, getting up to additional attention-hogging links can help you attract people straight to your website’s important pages.

So, let’s get down to it! In this article, you’ll learn what are sitelinks and how many sitelinks can you have. We’ll also look at the different types of sitelinks and reveal how to make sitelinks appear in Google to improve your online presence.

TL;DR

Google sitelinks are additional links to the important pages of a website, located below the main listing in a SERP result. They are designed to simplify user navigation and deliver relevant information quickly. 

There are two types of sitelinks: organic and paid. 

Organic sitelinks originate directly from Google’s algorithms. You may not have direct control over them, but there are several ways to help Google improve their quality. For example, you can build a clear website structure, add internal links with relevant anchor texts, and optimize your website content.

Paid sitelinks, also known as sitelinks extensions or sitelink assets, are extra links that appear in search or video ads next to your main search result. You can set up paid sitelinks for search campaigns and video campaigns on YouTube.

The following factors can affect your eligibility to get Google sitelinks: page usefulness, website structure, and the relevance of your internal links’ anchor texts.

Sitelinks offer several key benefits, including increased user engagement, improved search visibility & CTR, and reduced bounce rate.

It takes extra effort to maintain both types of sitelinks. The links, their titles, and their descriptions must always remain up-to-date and accurate. If this is not done properly, your sitelinks can become outdated, irrelevant, or even misleading.

Organic sitelinks

Google’s algorithms automatically generate organic sitelinks. This means that you can’t edit or change them as you see fit. Google only shows sitelinks when it thinks they are useful to the user. 

As of now, Google organic sitelinks can be divided into two main groups: column sitelinks and one-line sitelinks. In the following sections, we’ll explore their differences, provide real-life sitelink examples, and outline best practices to enhance your chances of acquiring them.

Column sitelinks

Column sitelinks only appear under brand queries. Previously, the only possible scenario was as follows: a person Googles a brand’s name, and Google shows the top search result, featuring the brand’s homepage along with sitelinks to other major web pages. 

As Google’s algorithms became smarter and began showing different sets of sitelinks for various queries, pages other than the homepage also began to get sitelinks. 

So, if you start your search with queries like “Buzzfeed quizzes,” the search results you receive will direct you to the website category you’re interested in. It will also point you to a set of sitelinks with different subcategories and/or popular web pages that belong to that category.

SE Ranking’s Keyword Rank Tracker tool makes it easy to track your Google website rankings for brand terms (and all other queries), along with additional terms (e.g., brand term + blog/pricing/features/news). 

To determine which pages Google has displayed in the sitelinks for a particular date, filter the ranking table by results with sitelinks, then click on the ranking position of your brand keyword for the day of your interest. This will enable you to view the cached SERP copy (your search result + all the sitelinks will appear at the top). 

Most websites won’t run into issues ranking #1 for queries like [brand name] + blog/website category, but some problems can arise if the website’s name is not unique.

Ranking for a fairly generic name is difficult if you haven’t built a strong brand presence around it. You’ll need to establish your brand as a thought leader in your niche to rank at #1 for brand searches related to it. For example, some major webites do just fine even with a non-unique brand name (i.e. apple.com consistently appears at the top of SERPs for the apple search query). 

If your website doesn’t rank #1 for your brand’s keywords, you can use tools like SE Ranking’s Competitive Research tool. This tool can assist you in the following ways: identifying which content Google considers relevant to specific search queries, determining content success factors, and using this data to formulate a content strategy that outperforms competitors.

Now, let’s explore the official instructions on how to add sitelinks in Google search. Google’s help article on sitelinks states that you need to:

  • Generate informative, relevant, and compact text for your page titles and headings.
  • Ensure the website structure is well-organized and easy to navigate. 
  • Link to your important pages from other relevant pages.
  • Create concise and relevant anchor text for internal links.
  • Minimize repetitive content.

Searchbox for sitelinks

Users can make use of the sitelinks search box to look for other materials provided by the site. Big brands with large websites hosting loads of content tend to feature a search box on the SERP. This includes brands like Pinterest, TripAdvisor, Capterra, or UNICEF. 

Here’s how the search box looks for the Wayfair search query.

results from snippet feature

Note: Searchbox sitelinks are only available for column sitelinks.

By default, sitelinks search boxes are powered by Google. This means that you don’t have direct control over which links appear on the SERP. 

However, you can increase your eligibility for searchbox sitelinks by incorporating WebSite structured data on your home page and specifying Search Action. Here is a step-by-step guide by Google on how to make your site eligible for display in a search box in SERPs.

Another condition of this feature is that your website must be powered by an internal search engine. After setting it up, the default Results from [site name] prompt in the search window will be replaced by Search [site name]. This indicates that the sitelinks search box is now powered by the website’s internal search engine.

search site name snippet feature

One-line sitelinks

The most prominent difference between column and one-line sitelinks is their visual aspect. Column sitelinks dominate the SERP, especially if they come with a search box. One-line sitelinks, on the contrary, look rather modest.  

Where one-line sitelinks do well is that they are more widespread and easier to get. This is because they aren’t space-hoggers like classic column sitelinks. There can be only one set of column sitelinks per search query, but you can see several sets of one-line sitelinks per SERP.

several sets of one-line sitelinks per SERP

Unlike full-fledged Google search sitelinks, one-line sitelinks are not limited to brand queries. 

The final difference between column and one-line sitelinks is that the latter can link to multiple locations, including website pages and different parts of the same page. Take a look at the two sets of Google sitelinks below. Notice how they look rather similar but actually work in two different ways.

Each sitelink in the first search result leads users to various relevant pages on the same website—just like all sitelinks do. 

However, the second result’s sitelinks are different. Technically, they aren’t even sitelinks. This is because they point to multiple sections within the same guide and not to the site’s pages. These links, also known as in-page links or jump links, make it easier for users to quickly jump from one section of an article to another.

Also, Google launched scroll-to-text sitelinks, which are for organic one-line listings. Thanks to this update, users can now click a link in Google’s search results to trasfer directly to a specific section of text on a webpage.

scroll-to-text sitelinks

The preconditions for getting one-line sitelinks to different pages of your website are the same as for column sitelinks. All you have to do is create content with a good internal linking strategy that is both useful and popular. 

Here are some key Google recommendations to follow to increase your odds of getting in-page links below your search snippets:

  • Make sure your long-form content is structured well and divided logically into sections.
  • Mark every section with concise headings that clearly indicate the coveredtopic or issue. Avoid excessively long headings that exceed a single line.
  • Add the “table of contents” feature to all pages hosting long-form content. Having a table of contents helps users navigate web pages by providing a list of anchored links that make it easy for them to to jump to different page sections. It also helps Google assess (at a glance) whether your page structure qualifies for in-page links. 

Mobile vs desktop SERP sitelinks

Google sitelinks on mobile and desktop search results are not the same. On mobile devices, it’s common to see more sitelinks beneath a specific search result compared to the desktop version, even if the desktop snippet for the same website displays fewer sitelinks. For instance, the screenshot below shows how the desktop search result for the “asos” query includes four sitelinks beneath the main link.

four sitelinks on the desktop version

For the mobile SERP of the same keyword, you can see six sitelinks beneath the web result.

six sitelinks on the mobile version

Unlike desktop sitelinks, mobile ones don’t have descriptions. For example, take a look at the desktop search result for Walmart in the screenshot below:

desktop sitelinks with descriptions

Each of its sitelinks: Clothing, All Departments, Groceries & Essential, and Walmart Inc., features a short description. In the mobile search version, the same sitelinks for the same web result do not display any descriptions.

mobile sitelinks without descriptions

Paid sitelinks

As implied by their name, paid sitelinks, also known as sitelink extensions or sitelink assets, are the extra links placed below the main URL within search ads. Their main feature is that you get complete control over them in SERPs. You can direct users to the most valuable pages on your website by customizing the text and URL of your paid sitelinks accordingly. The fact that these links are independent of Google’s algorithms or the content you produce distinguishes them from organic sitelinks.

Paid links can appear in two forms: search campaigns and video campaigns. Let’s review each in more detail.

Search campaigns

“Traditional” sitelinks extensions are sitelinks that appear in sponsored search campaigns on SERPs. Their format and design varies depending on the type of device you’re using: desktop or mobile. 

On desktop devices, your ad can show up to six sitelinks. They will appear either in a column or side by side:

For mobile devices, you can format paid sitelinks either in a vertical list or a horizontal carousel. Mobile devices allow you to display up to eight sitelinks on your ad.

While paid sitelinks are free to add, you will be charged every time someone clicks on them. Sitelink clicks cost the same as individual clicks on the headline within the same ad. Keep in mind that you won’t be charged for more than two clicks from one ad view. If a user accidentally clicks multiple links quickly, it will be counted as a duplicate click, and you will only be charged for a single click.

Video campaigns

In video campaigns, paid sitelinks are most often included at the beginning, middle, or end of YouTube videos. To see these sitelinks, users need to expand a compatible ad:

Currently, you have the option to display up to four sitelinks below eligible ads. The campaign cost varies depending on the campaign format and goal. For instance, with a TrueView for Action or Video action campaign, the pricing follows a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) model. With this model, you are charged each time your video ad is displayed 1,000 times. 

How to get paid sitelinks?

Follow the steps below to add sitelink extensions from within Google Adss:

  1. Sign into your Google Ads account, navigate to the Campaigns tab, and select Assets from the dropdown menu.
  2. Click the plus button, then go to Sitelink, and choose where you’d like to add the sitelink: Account, Campaign, or Ad group.
  3. In the Asset block, select either the Create new or the Use existing option. In the second option, you’ll need to select your desired sitelinks.
  4. Now, fill out the fields, including Sitelink text, Description line, and URL.
  5. Save these changes.

Note: Google recommends that you set up a minimum of 4 sitelinks at the account level to achieve the best results. 

Also, check if these sitelinks are relevant to all your campaigns and ad groups. Some users have raised concerns about autopopulated sitelink options that need to be deleted manually. 

If you ignore them or don’t remove them in time, you could inadvertently promote inaccurate or irrelevant sitelinks within your ad campaign.

How sitelink designs have changed over time?

Google is constantly testing different design formats for both desktop and mobile versions. Until a few years ago, sitelinks were typically displayed in a two-column format. However, with changes in search layout, Google discontinued this long-standing sitelinks design. Currently, sitelinks are shown in a single column in SERPs, unlike the previous two-column format.

SE Ranking blog sitelinks

For example, one widely-known sitelinks design that Google tested over the years was a clock/timer type of icon on the sitelinks, which indicated a page or section of a page that you have already visited from Google search. 

timer type sitelinks

Alternatively, sitelinks that you have already clicked on are highlighted in a different color.

different color sitelinks

Another design feature Google has been testing for sitelinks is boxed tabs with different-sized formats. Take a look at the screenshot below to see an example:

boxed tabs sitelinks

By the end of 2023, some users noticed a new sitelinks design featuring line separators.

Plus, another sitelinks design experiment was spotted on X in November 2023. As you can see below, Google tested its ​​placement of a northeast arrow symbol by the sitelinks.

In December 2023, users noticed a new design update where sitelinks appeared in bubble or pill design and layout

In February 2024, Google revamped the design of paid sitelinks in the mobile search ads interface. These sitelinks now comprise two lines of text, whereas previously, they contained no more than 25 characters:

And since March 2024, many users have observed a significant decrease in the number of sitelinks displayed on SERPs:

Currently it’s uncertain whether this trend will continue. So, we’ll keep an eye on it to observe its potential impact on SERPs.

What can affect your eligibility for sitelinks?

Overall, several factors can influence whether sitelinks appear in SERPs. In this section, we’ll explore the most impactful aspects, including usefulness, website structure, and traffic count.

Usefulness

So, what makes sitelinks useful? More specifically, what links does Google consider to be useful? If you look at the sitelinks displayed under homepage search snippets, you’ll see plenty of Contact Us and About pages, which users often visit to get acquainted with brands. 

You’ll often spot links to a website’s most popular category pages, product pages, and even blog posts. Also, you can still get sitelinks even if the homepage doesn’t link to lower level pages. For example, if a web page gets a lot of visitors and they love it, it may be featured among the sitelinks. In the example below, the sitelink leads to a subcategory of a culinary blog.

The Healthy Pasta Dishes category cannot be found in the header/footer menus of the website. You must pick the Recipes Index category from the drop-down menu in the header and click a few more times to get to the page. But, Google included it in the sitelinks because it is popular among users.

Also, sitelink lists aren’t static. Google constantly updates sitelinks based on how much traffic they receive, and its internal linking, among many other factors. To illustrate this point, let’s look at how sitelinks on SERPs change for the brand keyword “tesla” over one month. 

Here’s what you would see when searching for “tesla” on February 23, 2024:

When searching for the same keyword on March 22, 2024, you would see an updated list of sitelinks:

As you can see, Google added one more sitelink to the Model X webpage. This might indicate that either the company is experiencing an increased interest in the Model X, or they are trying to improve the relevance of its SERP presence for users specifically looking for that model.

Beyond your most popular pages, Google believes that pages presenting your brand (About Us and Contact pages) are among the most useful resources on your website. So, you’ll have to pay special attention to these web pages if you want them to rank higher in search results. Here’s how:

  • Add Schema markup to your About Us and Contact pages. This will assist Google in properly interpreting their page type. Adding Schema markup to your product pages or blog posts is also a good practice.
  • Produce more engaging content and drive traffic to it. Chances are, you’re working on this already. This is what SEO and marketing are all about, after all. If you haven’t yet acquired organic sitelinks, keep calm and know you are headed in the right direction.

Website structure

Google typically creates sitelinks from the items in your menu, so panning a simple and easy-to-follow website structure increases your chances of getting sitelinks. This is exactly how Hungry Healthy Happy set up their website. Their Healthy Pasta Dishes page, for example, exists under the Category/Recipes/Pasta section. It’s logical and simple.

To help Google crawl your website by moving between pages, use internal linking. Some experts claim that pages with many internal links pointing to them have a better chance of appearing in sitelinks. This is because internal links signal importance to Google. Since sitelink algorithms prioritize user experience, user engagement metrics matter more than the number of internal links.

Moreover, you can gain organic sitelinks by ensuring that the anchor text of your internal links is clear, informative, and relevant to the page they’re pointing to.

Amount of traffic

Maybe you’re doing everything right. You have the perfect website structure, a thought-out internal linking strategy, and proper Schema markups. And yet, column sitelinks still won’t show up. Instead, a single line of organic sitelinks appears beneath your homepage. So why would Google grant some websites proper column sitelinks, but not others despite their hard work? Maybe the amount of traffic is to blame. 

Many SEO specialists believe the more traffic a website gets, the greater its chances of getting a search box. The same rule applies to column sitelinks in general. Your website pages must earn a high volume of traffic before Google can decide if they are worth all that precious SERP real estate. 

Placing Google sitelinks beneath your website means that users might not see other SERP results below. To justify this placement, your sitelinks must bring more combined value to users than all other search results in the top ten. In this instance, Google sees a high visitor count as a convincing value metric. This means that if lots of people already like the pages, there is a high chance that more people will.

Note: Since web pages marked with “noindex” do not appear in sitelinks, make sure your important pages remain open to the search index.

Sitelink gains and pains

So, how can sitelinks benefit your business online? Now that we’ve covered the various types of sitelinks, let’s look at some good reasons to care about them. 

1. Increased user engagement and brand awareness:

  • Both the column and one-line sitelink types help users spot web pages that they could have missed otherwise (like a really useful blog post or a website category they had no clue about).
  • Sitelinks direct traffic from your homepage to potentially underserved areas of your website, enhancing your users’ brand and product awareness.

2. Improved CTR and search visibility:

  • Sitelinks, especially column ones, boost your CTR SEO performance. They push your SERP competitors farther down the screen or sometimes completely out of sight. 
  • While one-line sitelinks are not as good at dragging users’ attention away from other search results, they still help your website stand out, similar to rich snippet elements like ratings, prices, etc.

3. Reduced bounce rate:

  • Sitelinks provide users with many options. This increases the chance that users will find what they need right away. 
  • Sitelinks allow users to jump directly to relevant sections within a page. This minimizes endless scrolling.

The bottom line regarding the points above is that sitelinks increase user satisfaction and lead to lower bounce rates.

So, as you can see, having different types of sitelinks is always useful, no matter the format. The only problem is that they are beyond any webmaster’s control. It can also be difficult to influence sitelinks until they are paid. And once sitelinks appear, you can’t get rid of the ones you don’t like. This is because Google removed the sitelink demotion feature from GSC back in 2016. 

As we’ve already mentioned, the only option is to deindex the page using a noindex robots meta tag.

Not having control over your sitelinks can be inconvenient. After all, once a page gets featured in your sitelinks and starts getting traffic that would otherwise go to your homepage, it de facto becomes a landing page. To best represent your brand and product, fine-tune all sitelink pages accordingly. 

Final thoughts

Sitelinks are just one of the numerous SERP elements introduced by Google to help users find the information they need more easily and quickly. Fortunately for users and websites, sitelinks only feature the most important site pages. And while sitelinks are out of your direct control, real-life cases show that following SEO best practices indirectly influences sitelink acquisition. 

So, if you haven’t prioritized well-structured, engaging content, top-notch internal linking, and proper Schema markup in your SEO game plan, consider implementing them now to reap the many benefits of sitelinks. 





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