So called sitelinks are displayed if a specific search term has an authority site associated with it. If you search for Ghacks for instance, you will notice that my site is displayed at the top. Below the standard listing are the site links, which previously used about the same amount of space as a standard Google search results site listing.
Google today announced that they have modified site links. When you now search for Ghacks in the Google search engine, you will notice that the site links use up a lot of space. On my 1920x1200 resolution and a maximized window, that's about two thirds of the screen.
Here is a screenshot of Google's old sitelinks layout for comparison.
Why has Google made the decision to change the sitelinks layout? The Webmaster Central blog lists four reasons: Visibility, Flexibility, Clarity and Quality.
- Visibility: The font size of the link text has been increased. Both the url and the first free words of the description added.
- Flexibility: Sitelinks are now query dependent, and the maximum number of sitelinks has been increased from eight to twelve.
- Clarity: Sitelinks and standard search results are now separated, which means that a sitelink entry will not appear in the general search results and vice verse.
- Quality: Google with the update has "combined the signals" used for "site links and ranking".
I personally think that Google went a bit overboard with the new sitelinks design. It takes an extreme amount of space. Both the description and url information are more or less useless, considering that you won't usually see the full url or more than the first five or six words of the description on the search results page.
I'd rather like to see options to customize the layout. For my site, I'd remove the descriptions completely and start the urls after the domain name, as it should be clear that results come from the same domain (with the exception if a subdomain is listed of course).
Another thing that I think is missing is the ability to pick your own links for the sitelinks. Google picks them automatically, and your only option of influencing the listing is by demoting urls in the Webmaster Tools. First, that is no guarantee that the link won't show up as a sitelink anymore, and second it does not guarantee that a better link is picked by Google's algorithm.
For my site, I'd really like to add more categories and get rid of the articles that are displayed. That's however not really possible.
You find more information about Google's new sitelinks at the Google Webmaster Central blog. Have you encountered the new sitelinks in Google's search engine yet? If so, what's your opinion?