For almost a decade, webmasters had the ability to remove unwanted, wonky sitelinks from Google search results.
If you are unfamiliar with sitelink, they are these bad boys–the links that show up underneath the main result.
If you haven’t worked with sitelinks before, you don’t know that they are one of the few things that we–as SEO-ers–actually have little access to manipulate.
Here is an example of where it would be ideal to have the opportunity to demote a sitelink.
The bottom left-hand corner is a link that goes to a header image. “Hankering-for-History-Header” isn’t a useful link and should be demoted and allowed for something else that is useful to the user.
Google says that they are removing the tool to make it easier for webmasters. They are saying:
“We only show sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn’t allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don’t think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user’s query, we won’t show them. This process is completely automated. Sitelinks have evolved into being based on traditional web ranking, so the way to influence them is the same as other web pages.”
So if you are stuck now with sitelinks that you want and can’t get rid of them, this is what Google suggest you follow as the best practices for ensuring proper sitelink:
- Provide a clear structure for your website, using relevant internal links and anchor text that’s informative, compact and avoids repetition.
- Allow Google to crawl and index important pages within your site. Use Fetch and Render  to check that they can be rendered properly.
- If you need to remove a page from search completely, use a “noindex” robots meta tag  on that page.
As far as my personal opinion, I think this is a bad move by Google. I get that they are trying to curb people that are trying to take advantage of the tool, but for those of us who used it correctly, it was a very helpful tool. Between this and the recent loss of the keyword volume, it is starting to feel very personal.