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Google sitelinks go Cthulhu, grow social media tentacles

Beware! Google’s new, massive, SERP-sucking sitelinks are growing tentacles. And they’re getting those appendages into more than brands.

I’ve been pondering Google’s sitelinks a lot lately. It’s hard not to. Sitelinks are in your face everywhere you go. Do a search for ‘Lucky Brand.’ Between sitelinks and Adwords ads, you can’t even fit in quick Twitter joke:

Lucky brand

That’s OK. Lucky’s a brand. Their site has a hierarchy and navigation. It makes sense, right?

But, is “Ian Lurie Twitter” a brand?

ian-twitter-search-493x480

If me + Twitter = brand, I fear for our entire species.

Social media activity is a sitelinks attractor

If you just search for ‘Ian Lurie’ you won’t find any sitelinks. Maybe it’s the combination of my name plus ‘Twitter’. So ‘Seth Godin Twitter’ should generate the same result. If I’m a little swirling dust cloud of brand, then Seth Godin is a blue giant. Sitelinks, definitely!!! Er, nope:

seth godin twitter

But Seth has an active Twitter account, @thisissethsblog. Why doesn’t that show up in sitelinks?

Google’s doing some careful analysis here. Seth’s Twitter account is just a stream from his blog, which Google already indexes. He doesn’t mix in any other stuff. And there’s no user generated content to make it unique.

On Facebook, though, those reposts lead to comments, which makes the page and content on it unique. And voila, sitelinks:

Google’s crawling Twitter and Facebook, finding accounts with lots of authority/activity, and then turning them into sitelinks. If the activity streams have something unique to offer.

This isn’t of itself something you can use to help market your company. But the larger implication is that Google’s turning more than branded sites into sitelinks. Google’s turning branded content into sitelinks, regardless of location. The next step? Potentially: Google pulling content from different sites into a single ‘sitelinks’ collection. Just a theory.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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Comments

    1. Re: Me being a brand – shudder
      I think the related links from other sites could creep in. It seems extreme, but every time I say “this seems too extreme for Google” they go for it, and it looks so… sensible… when they’re done.

  1. I’d be happy for sitelinks on searches that aren’t brands. They’re a good way to group the core stuff together. Even for “Ian Lurie Twitter” it would be nice to see the other “Ian Laurie”s on Twitter, as well as recent tweets to you – seems logical.

  2. I started playing around with google suggests out of curiosity with variations of some brands I work with. One Twitter account Google gave sitelinks to had only 150 followers and has been dormant since July. The rest of the sitelinked accounts had huge follower counts.

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