Looking at the Tabbed Sitelinks Google Has to Offer
Since the start of July, Google has begun to experiment with new tabular mega sitelinks, which appear on the SERPs right below each result1. It appears as though only large websites, like Apple and Major League Baseball, have benefitted from this new update so far, although no one has noticed tabbed sitelinks for Amazon yet. Some find them cluttering2, while others find them useful3, but where does the truth lie? Let us take a look and evaluate the changes that might take place.
The first obvious difference would be in appearance and link numbers. Back in 2011, Google introduced expanded site links, which provided six additional links to the company website in order to better direct traffic. These new tabbed sitelinks offer from five to nine tabs, each with up to 13 additional links. This breakdown of the website into quickly accessible parts will modify traffic metrics and could mean more traffic for content populated websites as users can quickly browse the website contents. The first tab, “Top links,” is common to most websites and features the majority of links from the untabbed expanded sitelinks.
This quicker access will mean a shift of emphasis from the home page of the website to deeper and more specialized pages. Essentially, it will drive more quality traffic to product and services pages, and increase the conversion rate. For example, customers usually search for “Lego” or “Samsung” in order to purchase one of their products. The new tabbed sitelinks will save them the journey through the home page to the products and services pages. This move will require new and more innovative site design as bounce rates might go up, so what will really matter is the dwell time, or how much time the user spends on each individual page. Furthermore, because the “Top links” bar will feature already popular and linked-to content, these pages will receive a further boost to their popularity and standing.
The impact on news websites will be profound. Consider the BBC website4 and its tabbed sitelinks. The site’s page hits overall will drop as fewer users will visit the purely administrative and directing pages, which will impact its KPI and have a negative on the website as a whole. However, from the viewpoint of the user, less experienced users will reach their destination (e.g. Sports, Horoscopes, News) more quickly and without having to search around for a re-direct.
Furthermore, the tabs can give an accurate representation of what is on the website regarding content. For example, by searching for The Economist, one will clearly see the relevant political, economic and business news.
E-commerce websites will also see a change in user behavior. The main offers and discounts, which are currently on the main page, will have to be integrated much deeper to reach the customer. Also, e-commerce webpages must focus on related or similar objects in order to entice customers to purchase more. They should also focus on optimizing their category and product pages so that better services and products are displayed in the sitelink tabs. Similarly, travel and leisure websites will have their most popular services highlighted, while the more marginal cruises will get some light shed on them.
Basically, the new tabbed sitelinks are a welcome new function that will improve the user experience by shortening the journey to the desired information and help new users quickly find their way around the website. Websites will greatly benefit from the option of selecting the links and information that goes into the tabs as Google’s algorithms are less than perfect. Also, the interface of the tabs can be further improved to show categories relevant to the search query.