By Roee Ganot
Google is at it again, changing up some of its features. At least it’s not an algorithm change again — at least not this time. The latest change-up hasn’t been made yet. Right now, Google is just running tests.
What we’re seeing in search is Google experimenting with a carousel card form instead of regular sitelinks. Here’s what we know so far:
What are Sitelinks?
Some time ago, in an effort to give users a better experience and make their search easier, Google started adding sitelinks to select search results.
When the links do appear, they are positioned just under the meta description on the search result, and they point to internal pages on the site. They are designed to make it easier for users to explore additional content on the site without having to conduct new searches.
After all, if you like the content returned on the search result, chances are that you are going to find the other content on the site of interest.
The links are short, blue hyperlinks that stand out against the grey text in the description.
Though the links are in blue to try to capture attention, they don’t always get notice. They can easily get buried in the jumble of other text and links that are stacked up on the results page. The theory may be good, but the results aren’t always there.
New Format Testing
Some eagle-eyed marketing experts have spotted a new format for sitelinks in the form of a carousel card.
Instead of seeing those little, blue hyperlinks, you see a white box with a frame and the title of the page. The boxes move through like the images in a slider box.
Though these are just white boxes, the design is more attention-grabbing than the hyperlink. The box stands out against the lines of text, and the white space around the words draws attention to the page titles.
The new format has been spotted on both sponsored and organic search results, though sitelinks appear more commonly on sponsored results in general.
Google has not commented officially on the test, so there is no telling how successful the test has been or what Google’s plans are with the format. The test could be resulting in a huge increase in referral traffic, or it could have no impact at all.
Site owners can’t weigh in on the testing, either, since they have no way of knowing when or if their sites have been included in the test. They also have no way of knowing if their referral traffic is coming from the sitelinks or from their paid or organic search referrals.
We won’t know until Google weighs in on the testing what kind of impact is has had. We also won’t know whether Google plans to permanently implement the change or how long the test will last until it makes an announcement. For now, it hasn’t even declared that it is running the test.
Taking Advantage of Sitelinks
Unfortunately, there is no way to control whether Google displays sitelinks for your website. Nor can you control what pages are shown if sitelinks are included.
The only thing you can control is what you don’t want searchers to see by choosing the “demote” option on Google’s search console.
To promote the pages you want, the only thing you do have control of is your search engine optimization.
While you can’t control what pages are shown or if they are shown, you can control your SEO so that Google is better able to index your pages and make the appropriate recommendations if sitelinks are displayed. You can also control your site hierarchy and the titles of your pages so that if sitelinks are displayed, the right pages and titles are chosen.
If Google does stick with its new carousel card format, these efforts will become even more important since the improved visibility of the links will encourage more search traffic to your site. Make sure that you have done all you can to get the best exposure for your site.
Other Content Recommendation Tools
Fortunately, Google is not the only game in town. Not only are there other search engines that are growing in popularity, but there are also other content recommendation tools.
You don’t have to rely on the whims of changing search algorithms and features to get your site the exposure that you want.
CodeFuel offers In-tag with an advanced algorithm that relies on user-intent signals to place the right content in front of the right people at the right time. The algorithm looks at not only what other sites users have been visiting but also what actions they have taken on those sites.
With In-tag, you can get more clicks on your internal pages, which can boost your SEO and your search rankings. If you want to advertise your site, you can also get more referral traffic from related sites.
If you want to earn advertising revenue, you can also use In-tag to promote other content on your own site.