With the release of Google+ the company made a push to change the overall design of their most important web properties, including their search results page. It appears that they’re also interested in adjusting the way they display sitelinks for web properties.
Over the past year the most links we saw in the sitelink section was 6 but often it was even less than that. Google periodically did not display sitelinks but instead showed up to 5 results from the brand or website. With this adjustment, many of the links that take up the top 10 results are now appearing in the sitelinks section, allowing more results from other sites to be included on the first page of Google Search results.
What Does This Mean for Reputation Management?
If this test appears to be successful and makes its way to the mainstream search results it will definitely have an impact on Online Reputation Management efforts for brand names. Previously, many ORM companies relied on pages from a domain or their sub-domains to take up most the positions in the top 10.
With this adjustment a wider collection of sites will be displayed on page 1, making it more important that your brand image be strong and positive.
On the other hand, this adjustment is also giving a significant amount of screen real-estate to a website or brands domain and pages. Managing this feature in Google Webmaster tools will be critical to ensure that you’re driving traffic to sections of the website that you feel is most important.
With the increased screen real-estate I also imagine that the sites that appear towards the bottom of the first page CTR will decrease significantly. It will be less likely for searchers to scroll past all of the domain pages and information to find other sites that have something to say about a website or brand name.
What do you think about the new sitelink layout Google is testing? How will it impact your site, brand, or clients?