Google’s John Mueller answered a question in Reddit about whether it’s okay to no-index a webpage in order to keep it from being shown in the sitelinks.
Sitelinks, which are clustered links in the search results from one domain and are are typically shown when someone searches for the name or URL of a website.
For this specific situation, the sitelinks for a real estate website included a link to one of the real estate agents webpage.
The person asking the question felt that Google should rather pick what they feel is a more important page to show in the sitelinks.
What they planned to do is to noindex the real estate agent webpage. But they were concerned
This is the question asked:
“Is noindex a good way to get a page out of a search result sitelinks?
Should be an option in web console imho but a specific real estate agent’s page is part of the website sitelinks where there are lots of other pages like About etc. that should be there instead.
Should I temporarily noindex the agent’s page to get it off the sitelinks?””
John Mueller answered:
“I suspect (computers do weird things, so no guarantees :-)) what would happen is we’d drop it (during the noindex) and return it to normal (same state as before) when you remove the noindex.
We wouldn’t see a temporary noindex as a signal that you like it a little bit less — it’s either indexable or not, the ranking side is separate from the indexing.”
Noindex a Webpage to Remove it From Sitelinks?
A noindex meta tag is a directive, which means that search engines are obligated to obey the request.
In the case of a meta noindex tag, this means that search engines are required to drop a webpage from the index.
This approach, to use a noindex to remove a page from the sitelinks, is actually Google’s recommended course of action.
Google’s documentation on sitelinks advises:
“If you need to remove a sitelink, consider removing the page from your site or using noindex.”
Indexing Not Connected to Ranking?
Search engines have multiple parts to them.
In simple terms, there’s an indexing engine, which is the part with Googlebot that goes out, crawls the web and acquires website content for possible inclusion into Google’s index.
And there’s also a ranking engine.
The following illustration is from a patent from about ten years ago called Ranking Search Results, which is about an invention called a Modification Engine.
The screenshot of an example search system shows that the Indexing Engine and Ranking Engine are two separate systems.
That matches what John Mueller said:
“…the ranking side is separate from the indexing.”
Why Does Google Show Less Desirable Pages in Sitelinks?
Google lists a number of steps that publishers can take to keep less desirable pages out of the sitelinks.
The official sitelinks documentation recommends:
- “Make sure that the text you use as your page titles and in your headings is informative, relevant, and compact.
- Create a logical site structure that is easy for users to navigate, and make sure you link to your important pages from other relevant pages.
- Ensure that your internal links’ anchor text is concise and relevant to the page they’re pointing to.
- Avoid repetitions in your content.”
Is it possible that Google shows that real estate agent webpage because people tend to search for it? That’s the first thing I’d check.
Read the Reddit discussion here:
Featured image by Shutterstock/pedrorsfernandes