August 22, 2011
I am sure many of you were pleasantly surprised last week when you typed in a clients brand name into Google and were greeted with it’s newest introduction…jumbo site links!
These links are exciting as they take up much of the first page property so are excellent for click-thru rates and online brand reputation. However despite this, I don’t like them; for four principal reasons.
1) This is incredibly frustrating for other companies wanting to rank for certain brand terms. Slightly controversial, I know. It seems intuitive of course that brands should have the majority of the online footfall for their own brand name, and this is certainly what Google is thinking. But what if your brand name is generic? Take, Boots for example. This brand overtakes the majority of the first page when searching for this term, but what if genuinely you were looking for a pair of boots? The same applies to other brands such as Comet and Amazon. Or (perhaps more realistically) you are searching for ‘low cost holidays’ you will be greeted with this:
Excellent for this brand, of course, however slightly more frustrating if you are another holiday provider looking to rank for this high volume and lucrative search term. It seems as though jumbo site links are not only potentially annoying for the everyday user but also to those SEOers and businesses trying to rank for certain terms.
2) On the flip side, it seems as though Google is trying it’s best to combat this problem and many brand terms for which searches may not directly relate to that brand do not have the jumbo site links. Mars, for example or Coke and Dreams, the leading bed retailer, brings quite a different listing.
So problem number 2 is essentially that there is little consistency as to how Google determines what is a ‘brand’ and what is not, meaning that certain sites are missing out.
3) It may be the case that the highest converting or most relevant pages are not shown. You can demote certain pages from being listed however this is still in it’s infancy and sitelinks are not yet fully customisable. High profile blogs too, benefit from jumbo site links (see below) so it would certainly be interesting to find out which metrics Google uses to decide which posts to display.
4) Finally, jumbo site links allow users to skip past the homepage, which could ultimately have a damming impact on advertising revenue.
I have not managed to find much debate on this new introduction as of yet so all comments, disagreements and thoughts are welcomed!