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What do the new Google Sitelinks Search Boxes mean for your brand?

August 17th, 2014 by

You may have noticed (or you may not!) the slow roll out of Google’s sitelinks search boxes for various advertisers when you perform a brand term search. For example if you search for ‘Asos’ you will get the following result. The sitelinks search box appears in the natural results.

google sitelinks search boxes

 

This search box then enables you to search more specifically, possibly for the item you had in mind when you initially began your search. “Oooh that’s useful” you might think, well yes…..and no.

For example let’s say that you wanted to visit Asos in order to look for a new dress. You’re on the sofa, tablet in hand, image of dream dress in your mind’s eye and you Google ‘Asos’ and get the above result. You spot the sitelinks search box in the results and so type into the sitelinks search box a secondary search for ‘dresses’ like so.

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Hit return on that ‘dresses’ search and this is the new results page you receive.

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All the natural results are for Asos, but suddenly competitor ads are now occupying position 1 and the side bar. You find yourself thinking ‘hhhmmm Very.co.uk do next day delivery and free returns that could be good” and suddenly that brand search for “Asos” is a distant memory.

If we’re being impartial and talking about SERP’s usability then this new functionality could be pretty useful as it displays a range of similar brands that you might not have previously have considered, or even known of before you started your ‘Asos’ search.

From Asos’s point of view this represents a potentially huge brand search leak!

Suddenly a user who searched for ‘Asos’ in the first place and then went on to perform a secondary more specific search of the Asos site is now faced with a host of competitor ads and the immediate opportunity to take their click elsewhere.

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So how can you plug this potential brand search leak and avoid competitors attracting your traffic?

 

There is a solution if you have a search engine function on your own website you can divert the sitelinks search results to your own site.

Firstly you will need to verify that you have a functioning site specific search engine, if you have a Google custom search engine that will work too.

Secondly you will need to add the necessary markup to your homepage (the popular approach online seems to be using schema.org/SearchAction markup with JSON-LD)

Finally set up a preferred canonical URL for your homepage (using the rel=”canonical” link element) and voila! your sitelinks search should now perform like this example below

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Search for ‘apple mac’

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Hit return and BOOM! You get instantly redirected to the results page on bidorbuy.co.za……not a competitor ad in sight!

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For a full and in-depth guide on how to set these up check out Google’s how to page about it here.

 

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