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How to remove or remove organic subpage links

How to remove or remove organic subpage links

Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from Anastasia in London, who asks:

“How do you downgrade / remove an organic subpage link to a specific page without a GSC downgrade tool?”

Anastasia, this question is good and something that I recently faced on a client’s site.

Before we go too far into the answer, I will first give a general overview of what subpage links are and how they appear in the search.

Overview of quick subpage links

Subpage links are links that appear in Google search results and are designed to help the searcher navigate your site better.

According to Google, the search engine analyzes “the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they are looking for.”

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Google only shows sub-page links for results when they think it will help the searcher.

Take the following as an example. First you see eBay’s main result and below you see subpage links.

Subpage links can improve your clickthrough rate and help searchers find what they are looking for even faster on your site.

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How to improve your subpage links

Sitelinks are automatically generated through Google’s subpage links algorithm. In the past, you could remove unwanted sub-page links – but Google removed that tool many years ago.

Now you need to take other steps and hope that Google updates your subpage links accordingly.

With that in mind, let’s get into some things you can do to better control your subpage links.

1. Identify where you link internally to the unwanted subpage link

First, review your site to determine which pages link to the subpage link you want to remove.

Once you have the list of pages, review and update the anchor text and the internal links that go to the unwanted subpage link. Then resubmit your pages in the Google Search Console:

Please wait several days and check your subpage links again in Google search results.

From my experience it will do the trick to take the action I just described and you should see the updated subpage links.

2. The Noindex page displayed in subpage links

Warning!!!! Only use this approach if the page displayed in subpage links is one you do not want in Google’s index.

Remember that when you do not index a page, you remove it from the search results and no longer get organic traffic.

Now that you have been warned if the page displayed in subpage links is one that should not be indexed, such as an old page that is no longer used, you may want to consider “not indexing” the page.

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If you take this step, remove the unwanted subpage link. Here is an article that talks more about noindexing so you can better understand what is involved: Do links to Noindex pages help SEO?

Use anchor text and all text that is descriptive of the link

The first two tips were based on removing a specific subpage link. This one is focused on improving subpage links.

In addition to using descriptive anchor text and alt text, Google also recommends that you keep the anchor text concise and avoid repetition.

4. Create a clear site structure

Similar to the tip above, this is intended to improve subpage links.

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Website structure is generally important for SEO and can also help with subpage links. Your site must have a clear hierarchy.

Ideally, your site will be set up in such a way that you start with a more general topic (ie parent page) and get into a more specific topic (ie children’s page).

For example, a clear structure would look like: Cars> Fords> Mustangs.

Internal linking is a big part of the website structure and we also know that it affects subpage links.

Here’s a good article with more information on site structure to give you more insight: Google’s John Mueller on best page structure.

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Conclusion

By taking these steps, you should be able to get rid of the unwanted sub-page links and also improve what appears in Google search results.

More resources:

Editor’s Note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO consulting column written by some of the industry’s best SEO experts that has been hand-picked by the Search Engine Journal. Do you have a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You may see your answer in the next # AskanSEO post!

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Image credits

Highlighted image: mentalmind / Shutterstock.com
All screenshots taken by the author, July 2021

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