Google’s Expanded Sitelinks: When Bigger Isn’t Better

Written by Frederic Lardinois on Aug 17, 2011

Google’s expanded and enlarged sitelinks don’t add much to the search experience and just waste valuable screen estate.

Yesterday, Google updated the way it presents sitelinks – those extra blue links to a site’s sub-sections that often appear underneath the main search result link. When Google originally added those links to its results, it definitely made finding the right result easier and the links didn’t get in the way when you didn’t need them. Now, however, Google has decided to enlarge them significantly. Indeed, the font size of the secondary links is not the same as that of the main link. Google also expanded the number of links up to 12 (from a maximum of 8 before), meaning that for some searches, you now barely get to see the second search result on the page (especially if you have a smaller screen).

Here is how these results used to look like:

met old sitelinks

Here is the new version:

Met new sitelinks

What did we gain from this change? I would argue we got virtually nothing useful out of it. The green URL Google added doesn’t really add anything to the experience, the short snippet of text from the page is too short to add real value, and the smaller links in the original design were just as readable as the new ones.

Instead of adding any real value, the new design now puts greater value on the first search result than ever before. While most users don’t necessarily look far beyond the first search result, it would still be nice if you could see more than just two or three results per page without having to scroll down.