Article by Axandra SEO software
Written by Harvey Jones, Software Engineer, Raj Krishnan, Product Manager, Sitelinks team
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Webmaster level: All
This week we launched an update to sitelinks to improve the organization and quality of our search results. Sitelinks are the two columns of links that appear under some search results and ads that help users easily navigate deeper into the site. Sitelinks haven’t changed fundamentally: they’re still generated and ranked algorithmically based on the link structure of your site, and they’ll only appear if useful for a particular query.
- Visibility. The links have been boosted to full-sized text, and augmented with a green URL and one line of text snippet, much like regular search results. This increases the prominence of both the individual sitelinks and the top site overall, making them easier to find.
- Flexibility. Until now, each site had a fixed list of sitelinks that would either all appear or not appear; there was no query-specific ranking of the links. With today’s launch, sitelink selection and ranking can change from query to query, allowing more optimized results. In addition, the maximum number of sitelinks that can appear for a site has been raised from eight to 12, and the number shown also varies by query.
- Clarity. Previously, pages from your site could either appear in the sitelinks, in the regular results, or both. Now we’re making the separation between the top domain and other domains a bit clearer. If sitelinks appear for the top result, then the rest of the results below them will be from other domains. One exception to this is if the top result for a query is a subpart of a domain. For instance, the query [the met exhibitions] has www.metmuseum.org/special/ as the top result, and its sitelinks are all from within the www.metmuseum.org/special section of the site. However, the rest of the results may be from other parts of the metmuseum.org domain, like store.metmuseum.org or blog.metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen/about.
- Quality. These user-visible changes are accompanied by quality improvements behind the scenes. The core improvement is that we’ve combined the signals we use for sitelinks generation and ranking — like the link structure of your site — with our more traditional ranking system, creating a better, unified algorithm. From a ranking perspective, there’s really no separation between “regular” results and sitelinks anymore.
Sitelinks after today’s changes
These changes are also reflected in Webmaster Tools, where you can manage the sitelinks that appear for your site. You can now suggest a demotion to a sitelink if it’s inappropriate or incorrect, and the algorithms will take these demotions into account when showing and ranking the links (although removal is not guaranteed). Since sitelinks can vary over time and by query, it no longer makes sense to select from a set list of links — now, you can suggest a demotion of any URL for any parent page. Up to 100 demotions will be allowed per site. Finally, all current sitelink blocks in Webmaster Tools will automatically be converted to the demotions system. More information can be found in our Webmaster Tools Help Center.
It’s also worth mentioning a few things that haven’t changed. One-line sitelinks, where sitelinks can appear as a row of links on multiple results, and sitelinks on ads aren’t affected. Existing best practices for the link structure of your site are still relevant today, both for generating good quality sitelinks and to make it easier for your visitors. And, as always, you can raise any questions or comments in our Webmaster Help Forum.
Written by Evan Gilbert, Software Engineer, +1 Button
When we introduced the +1 button in March, Google search took a small step in an important direction. Search results can be more helpful, and more personal, when recommendations from the people you trust are there to guide your way.
The +1 button can help publishers, too. As potential visitors see recommendations from their friends and contacts beneath your Google search results, you could see more, and better qualified, traffic coming from Google.
Since we announced +1, we’ve gotten lots of requests from Google search users and webmasters alike for +1 buttons in more places than just search results. That’s why today we’re making the +1 button available to sites across the web. Sometimes you want to recommend a web page after you’ve visited it. After all, how do you know you want to suggest that great article on Spanish tapas if you haven’t read it yet?
We’ve partnered with a few sites where you’ll see +1 buttons over the coming days:
Adding +1 buttons to your pages is a great way to help your content stand out in Google search. By giving your visitors more chances to +1 your pages, your search results and search ads could show up with +1 annotations more often, helping users see when your pages are most likely to be useful.
In the common case, a press of the button +1’s the URL of the page it’s on. We recommend some easy ways to ensure this maps as often as possible to the pages appearing in Google search results.
If your site primarily caters to users outside of the US and Canada, you can install the +1 button code now; the +1 button is already supported in 44 languages. However, keep in mind that +1 annotations currently only appear for English search results on Google.com. We’re working on releasing +1 to searchers worldwide in the future.
If you have users who love your content (and we bet you do), encourage them to spread the word! Add the +1 button to help your site stand out with a personal recommendation right at the moment of decision, on Google search.
To stay current on updates to the +1 button large and small, please subscribe to the Google Publisher Buttons Announce Group. For advanced tips and tricks, check our Google Code site. Finally, if you have any questions about using the +1 button on your websites, feel free to drop by the Webmaster Help Forum.
Paid links: do you still have to worry about them?
Once again, paid links are a hot topic in the search engine optimization community. The website of J. C. Penney had number 1 rankings for many competitive keywords. It turned out that the J. C. Penney website obtained these rankings through buying links on over 2000 pages.
The paid links were reported to Google and many of J. C. Penney’s rankings dropped from number 1 to number 70 and below.
What are paid links?
If you pay the webmaster of another site to link to your website, then the link is a paid link. Paid links can be used to advertise your website on other sites. As long as the paid links use the rel=nofollow attribute, Google doesn’t have any problems with them.
The problem arises when paid links are used to get higher rankings in the regular search results on Google.
Google is very clear about paid links
Google does not like paid links. According to Google’s official statement, you should avoid paid links at all costs:
“[Some] webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”
Google even has an official form that enables you to report paid links to Google:
“If you know of a site that buys or sells links, please tell us by filling out the fields below. We’ll investigate your submissions, and we’ll use your data to improve our algorithmic detection of paid links.”
Should you use paid links to promote your website?
The problem with paid links is that they work. As long as nobody notices that you’re buying links, paid links can have a positive effect on the search engine rankings of your website. However, as soon as Google detects the paid links your website can get in major trouble.
There are several problems with paid links:
- A competitor might report your paid links to Google and your website will be penalized.
- A competitor might buy links that point to your website, report them to Google and your website will be penalized.
- A competitor buys links to a throwaway domain, sees where they appear, drops the links and waits for you to buy them. Then the competitor reports you to Google for buying links.
While paid links can improve your rankings, they are also extremely risky. If you plan to build a lasting business, you should avoid paid links. The potential damage exceeds the benefits by far.
Your website must have backlinks to get high rankings on Google
Backlinks are very important to get high rankings on Google. That’s why Google works so hard on filtering the wrong kind of links.
The links that point to your website should be from related websites and they should contain the keywords for which you want to get high rankings. Do not manipulate the links to your website by buying links and do not join automated link systems to increase the number of links to your website.
If you want lasting results, focus on ethical search engine optimization methods. There are many ways to get good links (related websites, blogs, social bookmark sites, directories, etc.). IBP helps you to get them all.
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