Google's New SERP Test: Tabular Mega Sitelinks
Just an hour before being mentioned in a blog post by Mediaworks; my colleagues and I (while searching for some blog posts) noticed the new tabular Mega Sitelinks in the SERPS for some big brand terms (SEO Book, SEOMoz).
Google reportedly pushes hundreds of similar style experiments a year to small sample audiences in their endeavour to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible", some of which are successful, some are not so.
Although more generic terms and lesser brands don't benefit from the upgrade, what is strange; some sites you would expect to see in the experiment seem to be excluded (Bing and Microsoft being two of them) yet some you may not necessarily expect are.
Perhaps, for colossal sites like Microsoft's; their core pages become diluted by the sheer volume of content and this may make it more difficult for Google to decide what additional links to show, however, Microsoft's main menu is pretty concise.
Google's own Maile Ohye has spoken about Sitelinks in her blog, specifically; how internal links influence their appearance in their SERPs. However, when we search with the term twitter, the tabular Mega Sitelinks include a link to the social giant's status blog, though there are no internal anchors that share the text "Its status page".
Open Site Explorer revealed an external link that does have the exact anchor text however, with good domain authority too! Perhaps external links now play a more prominent role when Google's algorithms are deciding what tabular Mega Sitelinks to serve.
Still, if you want to see the experiment; you have to edit the NID cookie via an extension — we used Edit This Cookie from the Chrome Web store. Go to Google (we tried U.K. and U.S., both worked) and replace the cookie's content with 61=AT3jqeaZ8jVRq0AzrXPAf0TUrDQSzYDSSnMDz4Wm8CG4hgL2VNQe7KI5q9g_6TsbePikASsKhuE3viESFAfCyoTo0ydrrqzYk0gyyceAIqSiVwhpaJZfP8ztJn82n5e1 then reload Google to get the tabular Mega Sitelink SERPs!
We look forward to reading your comments on how Google decides on the brands that receive the UI upgrade and which subpages should be served in the tabular Mega Sitelinks SERPs!