Google’s New Tabbed Sitelinks

July 13, 2012
By Danika Atkins in SEO

Have you seen the new tabbed sitelinks in search yet? The quips are already flowing inside the Outspoken Media office (“Now the Google six-pack comes with easy open tabs!”). Welcome to the newest face of search:

The blend of personalization through location-based store results, knowledge graph, and the new tabs is adding an extra degree of ease to the search process. However, the ease appears to be felt by large, branded properties. For years we’ve seen Google “favor” big brands and this isn’t going to break that perception. It’s important that every website (even affiliates) invest in brand development given Google’s direction.

Reading comments in Barry Schwarz‘s and Modesto Siotos‘s coverage of the new sitelinks format, we’ve noticed some questions and comments about rich data. We’re not seeing a direct correlation between structured data formats (including schema, RDFa, and Microformats) and the tabulated results yet, although it does seem tied directly to the main navigation of a page. And although Google has stated that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, they play an important part in helping users make sense of the new tabulated mega sitelinks. Now might be a good time for the NFL website to add a meta description to their events page:

This update will most likely roll out to big brands and large e-commerce sites for now (although we did notice Amazon’s sitelinks have not changed). Here are a few best practices that could help you prepare your site for an eventual expansion of the tabbed sitelinks:

  1. Pay attention to your meta descriptions. No, they are not a ranking factor. But they are a conversion-generating tool. Write your meta descriptions with sitelinks in mind.
  2. Clean up your top navigation. Is your top navigation text crawlable? Does is succinctly describe the content in each section?
  3. Yes, pay attention to rich data. Although we’re not seeing a connection now, it can only help you stay ahead of the game for future updates. As this feature becomes more advanced, rich data may play an increased role in sitelinks. I recommend using schema.org.
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