The expansion of sitelinks is just another huge change Google has made to search engine results in the past year. I touched on this two weeks ago, but wanted to go in depth with examples of how this latest change could make, break, or be a totally neutral play to your website. To end it on a happy note, we'll start with the Cons:
If you're a reseller or affiliate, you just got cut bad. Whether you resell DirecTV or Yokohama tires, Google just made it harder for eyes to get on your site. 12 sitelinks plus a wikipedia result then their twitter page makes their first page real estate go way up and affiliate/reseller visibility go way down.
BRANDED SEARCH THAT ISN'T BRANDED
Search for "natural area rugs" or "compact appliances". Google is betting that people are looking for www.naturalarearugs.com and www.compactappliance.com. This type of assumption could be incorrect and they might need to tweak it a bit. I'll cover how they're actually doing a good job of this in the Positives section below.
While it's better than just the shortened sitelinks we were accustom to seeing, Google will only show 35 characters of your meta description. Not a terrible negative, but you'll want to make sure the descriptions showing make sense and are unique. I'll go over below how unique meta descriptions are less of a best practice suggestion and more of a necessity now.
GIVING CREDIT TO THE BRANDS
Brands deserve to rank well for their own names. There are few things more frustrating than having an affiliate, wikipedia page, or some other site show up ahead of your own domain for a branded search. In the same way it's a negative for affiliates/resellers, it's a big positive for the true company.
GIVING OPTIONS TO THE SEARCHER
While it's going to create more analysis on the analytics end, this change should be helpful for the searcher, which is what Google is usually all about. By adding up to 12 sitelinks, Google is helping users cut down on the time they are spending searching. Better results + less time searching = well....who knows what people will do with the extra time.
BRANDED SEARCH INTENT
While results can be a little off, I think Google did a decent job bringing back sitelinks for truly branded searches.
If I search for diapers, I'll get two sitelinks from www.diapers.com:
Diapers.com is a pretty big brand and they sell diapers. This is definitely a relevant result, but Google is still hedging their bet (more…)