Have you Googled your company name in the past couple weeks? You might be surprised to see that just below your homepage in the search results you now have multiple links pointing to internal pages of your site with a line of description text beneath. Sitelinks aren’t a new thing, but these new, “expanded site links” that take up so much space on the top of the search results page are very new. They are also a very good thing for companies that are looking out for their online reputation and for those of us that offer reputation management services.
The good news about expanded sitelinks
According to Google, you may have as many as 12 expanded sitelinks if you have a large, established site (although in testing, we’ve only seen 6 sitelinks, even on the largest of sites). It’s also not as hard to obtain sitelinks for your company name (or branded term) as it once was. As soon as this update rolled out, the majority of our clients had 6 expanded sitelinks whereas many of them had no sitelinks prior. This now means that the majority of brand domains own alot more space “above the fold” (the space people see first) in search results.
If you have negative reviews or extortionists targeting your brand name in search, you will likely rejoice at the fact that the number of sitelinks you have will push down negative results without you having to work your butt off to get those internal pages to rank in other ways. Second, it’s a fact that searchers click most often on one of the top three results when performing a search – If your company’s domain shows in not only those top three links, but several more below that, you are more likely to bring visitors straight to your site vs. a review site or other site competing for your company name (it happens).
The bad news about expanded sitelinks
Just because you may own a bit more space in the search results for your company’s name doesn’t mean you can slack off on monitoring and managing your online reputation. While many people motivated to search your brand name will click into your site, there will be others that will certainly scroll down. And in cases where you’ve got competitors or extortionists out for blood – they will make sure to optimize pages that rank for your name with something enticing such as “company name complaints”, which are bound to catch the eye of many searchers.
Also, the expanded sitelinks that you see today, replace what used to be standard search results for internal pages and in some cases, the sitelinks actually take up less space in the results page than the old format used to. In fact, if Google caps sitelinks at 6 (as it appears to us recently), there may be even more work needed to repair search related reputation problems.
The moral of the story: Keep an eye on your branded search terms
may will change how your company appears in the future as they adjust things to suit our ever changing search habits. Doing a simple search for your company name regularly can help you understand how searchers see your brand. In a best case scenario you will control everything that is on the first page of search results for your brand, but know that there is no such thing as “set-it-and-forget-it” in online reputation management; Things change constantly. And if you aren’t paying attention, you could be bleeding money without knowing it.
Update: There is no doubt that those dealing with a reputation problem have a long road ahead of them. This change in sitelinks means that old tactics of using sub-domains to push down negative results no longer work, as sub-domains are now included in these sitelinks. It’s back to the drawing board for many companies that saw their prior reputation management plan get waxed over night with this change. Extortionists win– again.