We first started noticing the new approach last week, thanks to the eagle-eyed Jamie Steven of SEOmoz, but the search giant has now confirmed that what we were seeing wasn’t a fluke.
“Sitelinks will now be full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text—similar to regular results—making it even easier to find the section of the site you want,” explains Daniel Rocha, a Google software engineer, in a blog post. “We’re also increasing the maximum number of sitelinks per query from eight to 12.”
It’s an interesting move in light of the latest data from Experian Hitwise showing Google trailing Microsoft Bing and Yahoo in its “success rate” of searches — the number of queries leading searchers to click through to a webpage from the results page. Google’s success rate in July was about 68 percent, compared with more than 80 percent for Bing and Yahoo.
A larger window into websites, through the expanded sitelinks, could help address that problem by giving people more confidence to click through from results pages.
The change is also likely to cause website owners to pay more attention to the structure of their sites and the informational blurbs they provide Google about their site sections.
It appears to be a gradual rollout, not showing up for every search. But as an example, here’s what we saw this morning when searching on Google for Sonos. (Click for larger image.)