Sitelinks have been around for a while, when Google first launched them in September 2009, they were much more limited--a single row of just four links. As reported earlier this month about Google's experiment of 12 sitelinks -- today, the search company has announced several improvements to sitelinks, including the way they look and are organized in search results.
Initial launch sitelinks:
Sitelinks before today's changes:
These changes will be rolling out globally over the next few days in all supported languages to anyone using a modern browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or IE 7 and above.
"Sitelinks will now be full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text--similar to regular results--making it even easier to find the section of the site you want. We're also increasing the maximum number of sitelinks per query from eight to 12," informs Daniel Rocha, Software Engineer, Sitelinks Team.
In addition, "we're making a significant improvement to our algorithms by combining sitelink ranking with regular result ranking to yield a higher-quality list of links. This reduces link duplication and creates a better organized search results page. Now, all results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks, and all results from other sites will appear below them. The number of sitelinks will also vary based on your query--for example, [museum of art nyc] shows more sitelinks than [the met] because we're more certain you want results from www.metmuseum.org," added Rocha.
For those new, "Sitelinks are quite useful because they can help predict which sections of the site you want to visit. Even if you didn't specify your task in the query, sitelinks help you quickly navigate to the most relevant part of the site, which is particularly handy for large and complex websites. Sitelinks can also give you a good overview of a website's content, and let webmasters expose areas of the site that visitors may not know about."
Google notes that "It's also worth mentioning a few things that haven't changed. One-line sitelinks, where sitelinks can appear as a row of links on multiple results, and sitelinks on ads aren't affected.", And, that existing best practices for the link structure of your site are still relevant today, both for generating good quality sitelinks and to make it easier for your visitors."
Also, note that "These changes are alo reflected in Webmaster Tools, where you can manage the sitelinks that appear for your site. You can now suggest a demotion to a sitelink if it's inappropriate or incorrect, and the algorithms will take these demotions into account when showing and ranking the links (although removal is not guaranteed). Since sitelinks can vary over time and by query, it no longer makes sense to select from a set list of links -- now, you can suggest a demotion of any URL for any parent page. Up to 100 demotions will be allowed per site. Finally, all current sitelink blocks in Webmaster Tools will automatically be converted to the demotions system," explains Google.
[Source: Inside Search blog]