Google Tests New SERP Format: Site Links to News Articles Replace Website Description in Branded News Searches

April 11, 2018

I saw this change in the Google SERP format today on a search for "CNN." Check out how Google has replaced the 2-line website description with up to three sitelinks with full-line descriptions corresponding to the headlines of trending news stories. Take a look here:


new google sitelinks on CNN instead of website description

See how you can click on "Obama won't release bin Laden photos: Reaction" and it will link directly to the article. It seems to be working this way on other major national media outlets, for example:

  • USA Today
  • Fox News
  • Washington Post
  • CBS News

I guess on branded searches for media outlets, Google might be thinking something like...

  • The anchor text on site links are too small for news articles (they're typically 1-3 words like "contact us" or whatever)
  • The user probably doesn't care much for the website description (they obviously know CNN is a news organization, duh.)
  • So, might as well use the website description space for something more useful, for example, displaying an article the user might be looking for. 

Smaller sites like the Huffington Post, Boston Globe, etc. still have just a plain old website description. Heh, suckers. They're not worthy!

I think this new format just saved me 1 click in my search experience. What do you think of the new sitelink format for trending news stories?

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Larry Kim

Larry Kim

Larry Kim is the founder of WordStream and CEO of MobileMonkey, a chatbot building platform.