Google seems to be playing around with a new format when the first result has ‘sitelinks’ under the main heading. These sitelinks are usually seen on company name results and the like, and are intended to provide quick links to what Google sees as the most important pages on the site.
Here’s an example of the old format vs the new one:
As you can see, the new layout shows the sitelinks one above the other, rather than in two columns, separated by horizontal rules.
If you’re thinking that this is just a cosmetic change, and nothing to be particularly concerned about, in one sense you’re right. But do take the opportunity to check up on whether searches for your company name are resulting in sitelinks being displayed, and what they now look like.
Unfortunately, in the organic search results, you can’t specify which sitelinks Google shows, nor the text that is chosen to appear, more’s the pity. The pages chosen are ones which Google sees as being important, and that may not be a choice you’d agree with. For example, a search on our own company name throws up a sitelink which is just a throwaway resource on the site – but we’d have to admit, it’s a page which probably ranks ‘strongly’, thanks to the number of inbound and outbound links.
We’re also seeing the new format appear in Google Ads, which may warrant additional investigation: presumably your ads were designed to look good in the old format, but do they look good in the new one?
Here’s a company which advertises against searches on its own company name (something we usually recommend), so you can see what the new format looks like both in Google Ads and in organic results: