Google Search Console removes sitelinks demotion feature

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Google has quietly announced on Google+ that they are removing a Google Search Console feature that is almost nine years old — the ability to remove sitelinks from displaying in Google search.

The feature was first introduced back in October 18, 2007, and today has been shut off.

It let webmasters tell Google that they don’t want a specific URL to show up in the featured sitelinks section in the Google search results. Sitelinks are the sublinks found under a search result snippet in Google. Here is what sitelinks look like:

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Google said they are removing the feature to “simplify things.” Google said, “[O]ur algorithms have gotten much better at finding, creating and showing relevant sitelinks, and so we feel it’s time to simplify things.” Google added:

We only show sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn’t allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don’t think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user’s query, we won’t show them. This process is completely automated. Sitelinks have evolved into being based on traditional web ranking, so the way to influence them is the same as other web pages.

So what is a webmaster to do about sitelinks they don’t want to show up? Google listed three best practices:

  • Provide a clear structure for your website, using relevant internal links and anchor text that’s informative, compact and avoids repetition.
  • Allow Google to crawl and index important pages within your site. Use Fetch and Render [1] to check that they can be rendered properly.
  • If you need to remove a page from search completely, use a “noindex” robots meta tag [2] on that page.

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