UI fun: Better snippets

Alright, enough doom and gloom for a bit. Let me do a couple posts about user interfaces (UI). Everyone who thinks that search engines are completely perfect and can never be improved, please raise your hand. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Okay, good. We all agree that it’s important for search engines to keep trying fresh ideas. Here’s one UI test that’s pretty cool:

View links within a site

Can you see what’s going on? For a small number of sites, we’re not just showing our regular snippets: we try to expose useful links from within a site. In this Berkeley example, Google shows links for Berkeley departments, academics at Berkeley, etc. Pretty neat (and more importantly, useful) stuff.

People who know Google well will go “Cool” and move on. Other folks will ask things like “Are sites or their links selected by hand–can my site get in on this? Is money involved?” And the answer is: it’s all algorithmic. The algorithms pick the sites where this could be helpful. Of course money isn’t involved at all.

53 Responses to UI fun: Better snippets (Leave a comment)

  1. Its all about Berkeley for you guys. ;)

  2. Matt,

    Thank you for the laughter. From now on, when someone says: “Hey have you seen _________ (fill in the blank with google UI change) happening on Google?” I’ll tell them: “It’s Algorithmic Baby”.

    Have a great weekend… with all the posts you made today you need it.
    Natasha “That Girl From Marketing” Robinson

  3. And what exactly is the point of this friggin article?

  4. I was wondering about this myself. I have noticed these for a month or two, but finally got around to mentioning them on my website a few days ago. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed them.

  5. I’ve seen that one in action! I thought at the time it might have been a function of Google Sitemaps. Pretty neat, anyway!

  6. I first noticed this a few weeks ago, and thought it was pretty interesting. The company that I work for saw it appearing for us when we search for our biggest targeted keyword, and thought it was pretty cool.

    The only issue I noticed with it, though, is that most of the sites that come up in the snippets are sites that do extremely well in other searches anyway (usually when you tack on another keyword). Because of that, I kind of debate how useful it might be to end users. What would be truly great would be if there was a little link next to the site snippet that could expose all of the various subdomains on the site. This would be tremendously helpful for sites that segregate the areas of their site by sub-domain. An example could be a university that used sub-domains for their various departments. You might get something like this:

    University of Some Ultra Cool Kids (www.usuck.edu)
    |___Engineering (eng.usuck.edu)
    |___Fine Arg (art.usuck.edu)
    |___Business (greed.usuck.edu)
    |___Education (edu.usuck.edu)

  7. Hey Matt did you get that idea from the directories that provide extra product/services quick links : )

    I think it is a great idea. I am all for extra links in directories and I think its a great idea for search engines. It makes a entry more attractive to the searcher and of course the links make the entry more useful.

    Now what would be a good idea is to give AdSense the ability to post more than one link per ad.

  8. Hey Matt. This is extremely neat. Does it every change? When we search on our brand, Chicago Tribune, a link shows up for “war of the worlds.” Now that the movie is kind of old, will the link be replaced by something else?

  9. Prometheus Christophides

    Funny thing: On June 30th SERPs for my site shot sky high. For a brief period results also at times were showing those “useful links from within a site”. I thought Google must love my site a lot. Then suddenly on July 16th those links vanished and SERPs for my site from page one are down to page 3 and more. Site was still the same as before, no changes made. Love and hate is so very close…

  10. Vic

    Matt, Regarding this screenshot, something I never understood is, why is Google still sending traffic to Yahoo (Yahoo Maps specifically)? Yahoo seems to go out of there way to hate Google. In fact, if you go the Yahoo Finance Google message board, you’ll frequently see ads for Yahoo there. So, I ask again, why is Google so easygoing about sending traffic to Yahoo?

  11. You think the additional links that are being displayed are selected based on their popularity? They are obvuiously not in the same order as given on the website.

  12. I’ve been trying to find out how to do this for my site for about a month now. Anyone know how to do it?

  13. I’ve noticed it just happens to the first result. If you search for city of berkeley, a University of Berkeley subpage is #3, so it doesn’t show the extra links.

    So, G. Michael, you maybe doing wright, but your site may be not in the first position.

    One more thing: if you search for berkeley home, University of Berkeley is the first result but it doesn’t show the extra links. Something to do with what are you searching for too.

  14. Hi,
    But not all 1st results display this kind of link. Does anyone knows why some sites have the links and some doesn’t?

  15. I’ve checked for backlinks to see if it had something to do with it, but nothing, I can’t find a single sign why did those links were chosen out of all the others in the site!
    I suppose google does not have the statistics on which page is visited more, atleast not without the site using adsense, so If anyone has a guess please share.

  16. softstag

    I think this has something to do with the PageRank. Google uses PageRank to determine where a site will appear in the listing. In this example, all of the extra links have a PageRank of 7 or higher, so these are considered to be relevant links.

    The secret is getting a high PageRank, not only for your homepage, but also other pages within your site.

  17. ArturO

    @softstag
    Thats not true look at
    http://www.google.de/search?sourceid=mozclient&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&q=fischen
    The page fischen.de has a Pagerank of 4.

  18. This is really neat, I have also noticed that few weeks ago for CNN web site. So, seems that this is only for larger web sites.

    My opinion since early stage of google that it should display more links from one domain not only one link based on the search keyword or phrase provided. Simply because one web site could have more related pages within that web site than a web site listed on the second place. Does this make sense for you? Perhaps I didn’t explain it well but I wouldn’t mind to describe it more details if needed. g’ night.

  19. After almost 4 weeks of losing all traffic from Google search results – and many, many hours of work on our site trying to improve the site (with over 4 years of successful search results and traffic from Google) – I just noticed a search result with my site showing these “extra links” – I’m hoping that this is an early sign of improvements in search result & traffic – with the current update.

    See here http://www.google.com/search?q=equity+red+star&num=50&hl=en&lr=lang_en

    Is this the case – or am I being too optimistic?

  20. I noticed that the extra links only appear for my site when I set my google search preferances to 50 or 100 results per page. Why is this?

    Any feedback on my optimism?

  21. What do you think for this particular algorithm?

  22. It seems that according to Google the google has started giving the preference to Educational & Government Organization TLDs. ( .edu / .gov ). After few weeks watching if the result will not recovered then I will start buying Educational Domains :). Just kidding .

  23. After seeing Matts comment about SEO mistakes, regarding hidden text & “over use” of the H1 tag – I checked my site with the style sheet turned off – I was immediately concerned that I had inadvertantly & unintentional over used the H1 tag within the page content AND I had over used a “keyword” within the navigation menu – I have corrected my mistakes. (note I had not used hiddent text)

    How long will it take before these changes make any effect on my sites rankings?

  24. Any more information on this?

  25. I suppose that now with the new tool (analytics) – google can find out which are the most popular pages within a certain website and do with them as shown with the example.

    by the way, does this effect happens with site with PR less then 7, too?
    haven’t found yet.

  26. Okay, cool.
    So goegle is testing a new User Interface. Anyway to turn it of? Can’t they test it on people that like to be tested upon. That’s probaly the usual problem with free services. They can play with you and make the number one even more number one.

    Greetings Almer

  27. I have read about this feature on WebmasterWorld forum long time ago. I find it really cool, and always wondered about algo rules that determine when these neat links are added. I wish it were more often used in Google Results – now it can be found mostly for big sites, like Adobe, Microsoft, and big educational places. As webmaster, I always try to implement clear navigation and keep hoping that some of my sites will also gain such additional links eventually :)

  28. It’s not just big sites, if you search for [bodycraft] you’ll find bodycraft.com, a very small site with not much traffic. I wouldn’t exactly call the site search engine optimized either. However, if you search for the telephone number in their page title, it’ll come up first but without the sublinks.

  29. JR

    Matt, thanks for the explanation. I’ve seen this a few times and just never got around to finding out what causes it. The last time I saw this was when doing a search for a competitor of one of my clients. It’s situations like this that I think frustrate folks with Google’s Algorithms. One _could_ argue that this feature gives certain companies an advantage because they get the treatment and others don’t. I’m sure it could be argued that interior pages to any website are important and should be displayed in this manner. Because the Algo is a blackbox it’s hard to know how to build a site that takes advantage of this feature.

  30. Rick

    Matt,
    These are great when they show up, but troublesome when they link to something undesirable. For instance, I have an ecommerce client that has one of these useful links show up as “Browser Alert” and links to the site’s shopping cart. This is an alert that shows up when a browser will not work with the shopping cart code. The shopping cart is in the robots.txt not to be indexed and I don’t believe it is indexed, but I can’t figure out how to get this particular useful link removed.

    Baffled

  31. Matthew

    This is a feature that should be controllable to a certain extent. For example, having a Google Sitemap with some form of flag to control the “importance” of a page. My dream would be to have four >0.8 priority pages be listed depending on the search terms. As it stands, I have clients asking for this feature on their website with no way for me to make them happy. ;^)

  32. I just posting questions about this in my forums, thanks for clarifying this.

  33. Pat

    This is only good if your site is aways no#1 if not it just means users will be attracted to the top site and not yours. I think its crap really, means as usual google is out for the big guys and not the little content providers.

  34. JC

    well, if its “algorithmic” then there must be someway to influence which 4 get seen – ive seen some sets of 4 show anchor text from the homepage, and some show page titles of pages deep within the site, i’ve seen some logical choices for top 4, and some really random top 4′s that include the most unlikely of pages.

  35. Well, if its algorithmic then it will eventually be implemented to other sites also. It will not only help the visitors to understand the important pages but also it will be of great help to the webmasters to understand the importance of the different pages.

  36. I was thinking along the lines of Matthew Said by assuming that Google Sitemap could be used to self-select the pages you want linked. I’ll have to this theory out now that a couple of my clients have slipped into Sitelink land. :)

    What it does say for those companies lucky enough to get these extra links: Whatever URLs that Google initially chooses to deep-link to, make sure those links go to content you want to show up-front to your customers. Like some of the commenters here, sometimes you could be surprised by finding a link to a robots.txt-blocked file. In that case my first remedy would be to replace the name of the errant file with new content that is more friendly.

  37. Dave (Original)

    RE: “it’s all algorithmic. The algorithms pick the sites where this could be helpful”

    And Google themselves don’t make the cut because…? :)

    Nice simple (to us plebs at least) feature though!

  38. Original Dave,

    Google actually does “make the cut”, I’ve seen one of theirs. Try “Google Directory” I get:

    directory.google.com/
    — Business http://www.google.com/Top/Business/
    — Shopping http://www.google.com/Top/Shopping/
    — Arts http://www.google.com/Top/Arts/
    — Computers http://www.google.com/Top/Computers/

  39. i do not believe that it’s all algorithmic

  40. I think this is a great feature, and I understand that it is algorithmic, I just wish I knew what the algorithm is looking for.

    Cheers!!

  41. It must use some advance code if it is a algorithm.

  42. Hello guys and girls, i found something at google
    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=47334&topic=8523

    its an automatic algorithm – no user influence is possible, but they’re working on it

  43. Yeah, they say they’ll open it up for webmaster input but I don’t buy it. They should has it would make for easier access for all.

  44. lex

    Does anyone know how Google chooses what the text is for the Sitelink when it initially creates it? Also, does it ever re-visit the site and rename the links if the original link text has changed?

  45. i wonder how to do this. but i think only big sites with much quality can be like this.

  46. This is great ! I have been looking for info about this fonctionality. There is not much to be found out there :/ any pointers /rules to help google and give searchers better experience ?

  47. This is a cool idea and actually makes the search results look more neater. I have done a few searches and find that it mainly only shows extra links for the listings that have some authority or are very popular sites.

    Have not seen any small sites or new sites that have extra links yet, but then again I wouldn’t think I would see any really.

  48. I have heard that there are a few parameters that does this for the webmasters. haven’t found the resource though. Anyone can shed some light on this?

  49. I’ve always wondered how you go about getting them! my sites a probably so badly written, not not popular enough for google to work out the extra links.

    Maybe one day though!

  50. I’m still a bit confused. So are you saying that sub links are done automatically by Google, and as website owner or bloggers we don’t have to do anything specific? Or is there are way we can help enhance our chances of getting this done?

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