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Are Google’s Sitelinks preying on these local Scotts Valley chiropractors?

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Do a search on “Scotts Valley chiropractic” and you’ll likely find:

google site links

From the looks of that, you’d think that there was only one choice in Scotts Valley for a chiropractor, but there’s not. As you can see if you can manage to take your eyes of that first listing that is all decked out in Google’s enhanced “site links,” you’ll find Hinde Chiropractic but he might as well be invisible thanks to the multitude of links showing for his competitor.

This may look like unfair advantage to you, and sometimes it is. As demonstrated here, site links can have the negative effect of restricting competition and inhibiting consumer choice. So why does Google do this?

What are “site links”?

Site Links are additional website links that Google displays in the SERPs (search engine results pages) for a particular listing. In this case, you can see that in addition to the Scotts Valley Chiropractic home page url, there are links to a page about the Activator Method, and one about Massages, among others. Site links vary depending on what you searched for and what Google thinks is most relevant to you and your search term.

Why does Google only give site links to Scotts Valley Chiropractic?

Generally, site links only appear on brand-related terms like a company’s name, but they can sometimes appear for other keywords or phrases when relevant.

In this case, Google sees the query for “Scotts Valley Chiropractic” as a search for a brand, or business name, because there happens to be one with exactly the same words instead of a query to find a chiropractor in Scotts Valley. As such, it responds with a brand presentation that includes site links. Lucky Dr. Thibodeau.

So what’s another Scotts Valley chiropractor to do, or any other local business that has to compete against a competitor’s site links?

Fortunately, if you query “Scotts Valley chiropractor,” Dr. Hinde makes a better showing. It was not always this way, though. Just last week, Scotts Valley Chiropractic’s site links were showing for that query as well, and Dr. Hinde fell away into the invisible zone again for his two most important keywords.

Thankfully Google fixed that faux pas. But let’s say they didn’t. Or let’s say Scotts Valley Chiropractic’s business name was really “Scotts Valley Chiropractor” and commanded site links for that more important query instead.

Do any other chiropractors in town have a chance of grabbing attention? Can they level the playing field by getting site links of their own or making the others go away?

Since site links rewards brands for exact match keyword queries, it’s unlikely (impossible) another chiropractor will be able to get site links like Dr. Thibodeau’s since that is her legal business name.

But can they get attention, and along with attention the more important clicks? Well, take a look at the results for this “Oakland chiropractic” query.

Site links and 7 pack showing at the same time

Note that in this instance, the 7 pack is showing. Those are chiropractors listed in Google Places. Who’s commanding attention now? It’s possible it’s the 7 pack and here’s some proof that might back it up. Check out example #3.

Where is the 7 pack for our query in Scotts Valley?

There is no 7 pack showing for our Scotts Valley query, yet we know there are other local doctors with Google Places. Why is Google showing them in Oakland but not for this query in Scotts Valley?

Perhaps it’s because Oakland Chiropractic Center was a close enough match to get site links, but since it was not exact, Google also returned the 7 pack. In our Scotts Valley example, the query was an exact match on the business name, in other words, a stronger signal was sent to Google that the searcher was looking for a brand.

It would take a lot of testing to know for sure why Google did this.

But does it really matter?

While Dr. Hinde may not be able to do anything about Dr. Thibodeau’s privileged site-links position for those keywords, and he can’t get any for himself, he does have other opportunities.

In an upcoming post we’ll look at those opportunities and how and why Dr. Hinde should either try to outrank Dr. Thibodeau or not even care. What do you think?

That post is here now.


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Kathy (aka Kat) is one of the internet's original Digital Divas and freely shares her expertise in the fields of web design, SEO, Local SEO, social media marketing, content development, PPC, and conversion optimization to help businesses succeed online. Sadly, she's allergic to cats.

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