The news that Google is testing a huge overhaul to its search result pages called “tabbed sitelinks” has caused quite a stir. In mid-July, certain people began to see this alternate structure for their search results, and headlines followed soon thereafter. If this change is implemented (it’s definitely still in testing) new tabbed sitelinks will change the way people experience and use Google’s search results, and thus will change how companies design their web pages and SEO marketing efforts.
A few lucky bloggers have posted screen shots of how their search engine results worked when tabbed sitelinks became available for them. Essentially, when a person types in a branded search term like “Nike” or “The New York Times,” previously the top, branded result included six site links. With tabbed sitelinks their results will have between five and nine tabs to help them navigate the information instead of the simple links. On each tab there are a number of site links to specific pages embedded within the main pages referenced by the tabs.
On the surface, this means one SERP (search engine results page) for a branded search can contain far more information. This extra information could be quite a boon for brands. First, searchers will be less likely to click on the non-branded link further down the SERP, assuming they wanted to reach the brand page. The tabs themselves will make the branded links more visually attractive. No more traffic leaching.
The fact that people can immediately see deeper into branded sites is the big difference. Instead of going to the “Videos” page of a sports website, they can go to that tab. Then, from the tab they can directly click on the link or section they want. Two clicks instead of visiting the home page or topic page and having to figure out internal navigation seems much more efficient for users. This should also improve the quality of targeted traffic, since people will end up on exactly the page they want more often. This means companies will need to build their architecture, and manage meta data, better to capture, direct, and leverage this kind of traffic.
It’s also going to change some basic traffic metrics. Time on site, page views for pages between the home page and the deeper destinations will decrease, and other similar metrics will fall as people go directly from Google to the intended page and then leave. It will concentrate time on-site onto deeper pages as well. This will complicate efforts to understand traffic statistics at first.
Tabbed sitelinks might be in testing right now, but they would mean big changes for branded websites and branded SEO if they were implemented.
About the author: Article by John V. Learn about tabbed sitelinks at http://www.wpromote.com and see how working with an SEO company can improve your rankings and ultimately a better bottom line.