Google’s New Sitelinks and Your Online Reputation

Google is always reviewing and updating its practices, algorithms, and values. At times it can feel like trying to hit a moving target. And it can be frustrating to find that you’ve put months into an online reputation management campaign only to have Google change the game again.

Well, recently, they changed the game by evolving the way they display sitelinks in the search results. Previously, if you had a website in the top 5, and it was undoubtedly the top result on the page, Google would display sitelinks underneath the main link to your site. For example, here is the old search listing for the website, Hubspot:

 

As you can see, underneath the link to the home page, there are a number of smaller links to individual pages within the site. This link-bunching highlighted this site as the most important and most trusted in the search results, and most people were more apt to click on links that appeared like this one.

As of mid-August, Google changed the way they display these sitelinks from the small version pictured above to the version pictured below:

 

As you can see, the sitelinks are HUGE. Obviously this gives a huge boost to websites who already rank well and have a great reputation online—and hopefully, your website ranks among them.

But this change also has some side effects. In exchange for filling what is, essentially, half the page with the results of one website, they have taken away multiple listings for subdomains and combined them all into the one big listing.

For example, you can see in the image above that the sitelinks include links to subdomains like “jobs.hobspot.com” and “blog.hubspot.com.” Previous to this change, these subdominas would have appeared as separate listings in the search results, taking up more spots in the top ten search results.

As a result of the change, many websites that many have been listed lower down, or on the second page, suddenly found themselves much higher in the search results.

This effect has two implications for your online reputation management strategy. First, it means that creating multiple subdomains that rank high in the results is no longer an effective strategy. Essentially, Google has compiled everything into one listing so all your subdomains are now subsumed under one massive heading—if you’re on top already.

Secondly, other sites that may have been ranking well, but may not have been on the first page, could have moved up. And that can be both a good and a bad thing for your online reputation. If you were trying hard to get a number of other positive information websites to rank well for your company’s name, you may find you have some much better results now. On the other hand, if a number of nasty and untruthful information was hiding just around the corner, it may be rearing it’s ugly head on the first page of a Google search for your company name.

At this point, it is important to check your Google listing and take note of what has changed, if anything, for a search for your company name. You may be pleasantly surprised, or you could be severely disappointed. Either way, you’ll know that moving forward you may need to employ different tactics in your online reputation management campaign in order to get the results you are looking for.