Google Extended Sitelinks: the above the fold battle has just begun

Extended sitelinks have been released less than a week ago (well, the official news has been given just yesterday, but I saw them for the first time last Friday), and questions are yet going around the net on what possible effects this change will have on both SEO and PPC campaigns.

It is unpredictable what kind of impacts the new sitelinks could have in the long term run, and no data are available at the moment to confirm.

As webmasters and SEOs, we have little control over which sitelinks are displayed in the search results. Google’s algorithm is ultimately responsible for that, and it will figure out which pages to show.

Sitelinks may be blocked indefinitely, provided you revisit the Webmaster Tools account every three months. At the same time sitelinks can be unblocked too, but there will be a lag before they will reappear again in the SERP.

The above-the-fold battle

It is common knowledge that the majority of searchers clicks go to the top 3 results. However, with the adoption of the new extended sitelinks, search results are now pushed down significantly “below the fold”, so you’d think that dominating another few inches of the search landscape would have a good increase in traffic too.

It is hard to say how much, but in many circumstances in the past, with the traditional sitelinks, I’ve seen the traffic on the site spiking up to 25%. It’s reasonable to believe the percentage to increase with this new configuration: I would cautiously say 30%, perhaps more.

A new bidding strategy for PPC campaigns

From a PPC prospective, I can’t say very much. What I noticed is extended sitelinks are appearing predominantly for branded terms, but this is not a rule of thumb of course.

It could be the case – as it normally happens – Google decided to roll-up this feature gradually.

However, I suspect the AdWords competition to increase. As we have hundreds of companies bidding against each other on branded terms, with the space now shrunk down, a lot of company underperforming in SEO will necessarily have to support their conversion in some way.