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Google’s Sitelink Title Text Methodology – You Got ME!

Due to Google’s recently released expanded organic sitelinks [1], there has been a lot of discussion around ways to take advantage of sitelinks and have more control over what the user sees.  I’ve been poking around a bit to see if Google has any rhyme or reason to how they create them; but unfortunately, Google doesn’t seem to have one.  In fact, after my analysis, I ended up with more questions than answers.

To shed some light on my confusion, here are some examples where Google is using different text elements to create them and how it all just doesn’t add up.

EXAMPLE 1: Pulled Directly from the Title Tag

Here’s a look at a sitelink Title that’s been created directly from the Title Tag of the page:


URL: http://www.oceancruises.com/about_us.php [3]

Title Tag:



  1. There doesn’t appear to be any backlinks to the page


2.  The About Us page is part of the universal footer; however, Google has decided NOT to only use “About Us” as the link Title (which is universally used on the footer).


Question to Google:

  1. Google, why are you pulling the Title tag of the page rather than the consistent footer navigation text?

EXAMPLE 2: Pulled from Navigation Text

Here’s a look at sitelink Title that’s been created from the navigation text rather than the Title Tag:


URL:  http://www.thesearchagency.com/jobs.html [7]


Title Tag:


Navigation text:



  1. Via Google Webmaster Tools, we were able to confirm there are external links pointing to this page, but none that say “Careers”. The external anchor text pointing to this page appears to be primarily “The Search Agency”


Question to Google:

  1. So wait a second Google. In the example above you were pulling the Title Tag text instead of the footer nave text. Why are you now pulling the navigation text instead of the Title Tag text?


EXAMPLE 3: Pulled from WHO KNOWS WHERE????

In this example, we notice a slight difference in the appearance of text being used. In this case, Google has decided to use “Keyword density” instead of “Keyword Density”.


URL: http://www.thesearchagency.com/search-marketing-glossary/keyword-density.html [12]


Title Tag



On-page text



  1. Internally the page is linked to in a few different ways.

http://www.thesearchagency.com/sitemap.html [16]


http://www.thesearchagency.com/search-marketing-glossary/ [18]


2. Via Google Webmaster Tools, we were able to confirm there are external links pointing to this page, but none that say “Keyword density”.


Question to Google:

  1. OK…hold on a second! Google, this just doesn’t make any sense. Within all the possible text that affects this page, nowhere is there a lower case “d” used in “density”. Where are you getting this text from???

So as you can see, I’m more confused than ever about how Google pulls text for a site’s sitelinks. In some cases they use the Title Tag text; in others, navigation text. And in some, they don’t make it clear at all. A little HELP here Google?

Up Next…a look at colons and whether or not Google uses them as a stop character in creating sitelink Title text.









About David Waterman

David Waterman of The Search Agency+ works in SEO, Content Development and Online Marketing, at The Search Agency - 11150 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 600 Los Angeles, CA 90064 as a Director of SEO/Search Marketing - Website: http://www.thesearchagency.com [27]

David Waterman+ [26] manages all SEO efforts for an assortment of clients. He has over 8 years of Search Engine Optimization experience with a specific emphasis on content optimization and website taxonomy/organization. He sets strategy for a wide array of top-tier clients in various industries and has experience managing international search marketing teams and servicing international clients. In his spare time he enjoys going to garage sales and swap meets in search of vintage and collectible items.

http://twitter.com/SEOWaterman [28]

http://www.facebook.com/seo.waterman [29]