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In: Search Optimization


If only we had full control over the appearance of our site in Google Search Properties.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as someone recently found out.

Today’s Ask An SEO question comes from Marwan from England asking:

“How do I remove transactional landing pages like ‘Restaurant Branding Agency’ from my organic Google sitelinks and instead have my website main pages like ‘About’, ‘Services’, ‘Contact Us’ and Blog?

I’ve implemented all sitelink influencing instructions, but haven’t managed to change them yet.”

Organic sitelinks defined

Google tries to make it easy for people to find what they are looking for.

One way Google does this is by displaying organic sitelinks.

Organic sitelinks are four links that appear under the primary organic listing and lead to other pages on your site or jump directly to content within pages using fragment links (#).

Here is an example:

Sitelinks Example in Google SERPScreenshot of the search for [kayle larkin]July 2022

By analyzing the link structure on our site, Google can present our content so people don’t have to search as much.

But what happens when Google content such as transactional landing page that we don’t want front and center?

Is there anything you can do?

How to remove unwanted sitelinks

Google automates sitelinks.

Site owners and web administrators cannot downgrade or remove an unwanted sitelink directly.

As of February 28, 2022, Google is indicating that this is the case may include submissions from website owners in the future.

Marwan states that they have implemented all sitelink influencing instructions to no avail.

Since we don’t know what changes have been implemented, it needs to be repeated.

Here are four Google-backed best practices that can affect your sitelinks.

1. Page titles are informative and compact

Although ‘services’ is compact, it is not as informative to the Google search user as ‘restaurant branding agency’.

This could explain why the transactional landing pages are pulled over the main pages of the website.

What if “Services” became “Branding Services”?

2. The site structure is logical with meaningful categories

We don’t know the structure of this website and how it links to relevant pages within it, but we do know that Google places great importance on the structure of the website.

The Google Search Central documentation explains that it examines the structure of your site (how your pages link together) to find links that allow users to quickly find the answer to their query.

Interested in learning more about page structure and internal linking for SEO?

Jesse McDonald, Global SEO Strategist at IBM, has written an in-depth article to help you create a strong SEO foundation.

3. Anchor text is short and concise

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text of a link.

Mindy Weinstein, SEJ author and founder of Market Mindshift, shares how to remove unwanted sitelinks in the following steps.

Search your website to find any internal links to the page you wish to remove (“Restaurant Branding Agency”).

Review this list and update the anchor text of internal links pointing to the unwanted sitelink.

Resubmit it to Search Console, wait for it to be crawled, and check your search listing again.

4. In case of emergency: add noindex or remove the page

The last tip should only be used if the landing page is no longer used.

Noindex or remove the page from your site.

This effectively removes the organic sitelink as it removes the page from Google’s index.

Final Thoughts

Although there is no direct control that allows site owners to choose or remove sitelinks, we can use the information above to influence which sitelinks appear in Google’s search results.

More resources:


Featured image: Ribkhan/Shutterstock

Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, handpicked by Search Engine Journal. Do you have a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!





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