Google has recently moved to a new bigger site link format which aims to improve visibility and help users navigate deeper into sites.
The first thing that you'll notice is that the new links are much bigger, with the font size now being the same size as the rest of the snippet. In addition the maximum number of sitelinks available has increased from eight to twelve. This translates to more results being pushed below the fold, with the mega sitelinks devouring more page real estate. As ever there is still space available for AdWords, so it will be interesting to see if competitors trying to take brand traffic that have been relegated below the fold fight back with aggressive brand bidding campaigns.
From an optimisation standpoint Google claims that there is a better algorithm working behind the scenes to determine which URLs are worthy for inclusion and different queries can trigger different sitelinks. Keen eyes will also notice that the page title and meta description are now being used in the snippet and these two can be optimised to encourage click through.
The more inquisitive webmaster may also want to keep an eye on click through data in Google Webmaster tools and see how the new layout not only affects click through but also the impact this has on the frequency that the new sitelinks are clicked. So it is important to make sure that as a minimum all pages that appear in sitelinks have well optimised page titles and meta descriptions.
Ultimately the big question that a lot of brands and agencies are asking is, "How does this affect our site?" Our stance is that this is another good optimisation designed to help the user on navigational and brand queries and sites should expect to see a slight uplift in organic brand queries as a result and perhaps an overall increase in landings to internal pages for more general navigational and brand queries.
As ever when optimising for sitelinks we would recommend a good user friendly site architecture and well optimised pages, however if you do have any questions on how to get more out of your sitelinks please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.