You will have seen Google’s Sitelinks search box many times and if you are like us, you will have wondered how you would get one working on your site. When Google has been used to search and it returns the results, the site name is shown in the normal hyperlink, then below this is another search box. This is the Sitelinks search box.
The Sitelinks search box is a Google search within a certain web page, but the results are still on the Google search page. It allows searchers to perform a secondary search for results which are only on your web page.
There are two very different approaches to using Sitelinks, which have their own merits, depending upon the website and that website’s content which being searched.
If you Google Wikipedia.org, the returned search results will top out with the direct link to Wikipedia.org. Immediately underneath this result will be a Google search box, which allows the searcher to perform another search which will only find results from Wikipedia.org. This is the most basic approach and also the most common style using the Sitelinks function, but it is also the most appropriate in this context.
The other way to use Google Sitelinks requires the site to be using schema. If the homepage uses the schema, then Google will still display a search box underneath the initial hyperlink to the site, but the search functions differently. Instead of performing a Google search on your site, the search will use the website’s own search engine to find and return the results. A good example of this is when you search Sainsbury’s. Google will return the link to sainburys.co.uk but underneath is a search box which says “Search sainsburys.co.uk”.
The difference may appear to be subtle to the end user but it is very significant to the website owner. This added level of control over the search function in the second option will create a higher volume of traffic being sent to your site. Adding the schema to the homepage might seem like a bit of hassle and something which no customer would notice, but the benefits far outweigh the effort and the results can be impressive.
As with everything SEO, the results and changes will not happen overnight. Adding the schema to your homepage will not automatically change your Sitelink search box. The change will have to be processed through the Google systems and will have to earn the reputation upgrade.
The important thing to remember when using the schema and Sitelinks is that adding the schema will not automatically update the search box, but it will eventually allow you to show the version of the search box you want.