Google released new updates for sitelinks in the organic search results this week. The updates, quietly released under our radar, are causing fluctuations in impressions and positions in the Google Search Console numbers. In the long run, these changes will not cause any major issues for your client or company.
Some of the changes that occurred with the sitelinks are as follows:
The first change in the Search Results page, showed smaller sitelinks gradually dropping off the SERP and then altogether missing from the listings in October. While Google confirms this is a bug, they have since fixed the issue in early November; even though research shows these sitelinks are not commonly used by searchers.
The next change that Google rolled out was a reduction in number of large sitelinks on the SERP page. Where we saw these listings carry about 6 larger links below them, this number has now been reduced to 4. In some cases, there have been sites with those larger links reduced even further to 2 links and a search box. This is likely still being tested, and not fully rolled out yet.
After looking at a few sites before and after the change, we saw declines on almost all fronts.
1. Declines in impressions by over 50% due to the reduction in the total number of pages ranking.
2. Declines in average position by up to about 5 positions
3. Increase in Click through Rate – this increase comes from taking away the sitelinks with a lower CTR.
4. No major traffic issues, as sitelinks that are still present have a lower CTR.
While these above changes aren’t too much to worry about, you can also check to see if any of your pages were affected, using this tool. If you saw a drop in impressions or positioning around mid-October, it’s likely your site was affected.
What does this mean for SEO
For reporting purposes, you will want to take into account the small sitelink issues – even though they have been resolved, it will take time for us to see those again. In addition to this, the larger sitelink reductions are still being tested, and will likely continue to cause issues in your impressions and positions.
Also – these reported changes aren’t going to affect your overall performance numbers, so try not to jump to conclusions if you see your numbers fluctuating.