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December 15, 2011

Why is Lady Gaga a Twitter Sitelink on Google?

By Juliana Kenny, TMCnet Managing Editor

Earlier this year, Google (News - Alert) started including “sitelinks” on its search pages, which essentially list sections of the website you’re looking for underneath the top main search result.

Those of us who work in the SEO realm wondered how Google selected such sub-sections to feature, but we did not consider the notion much beyond that since we mostly thought it was pretty cool. Now some of us are wondering a bit more how indeed Google determines which sub-sections of a website become sitelinks.

After noticing that a Google search for “Twitter (News - Alert)” produces a listing including a sitelink to Lady Gaga’s Twitter account, we decided to investigate a bit more. 

Google has stated on its support site that the sitelinks “are meant to help users navigate” certain websites. “Our systems analyze the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re looking for.” So Google must assume that anyone Googling the word “Twitter” is eventually going to want to follow Lady Gaga, right?

But does it not say something about our “search culture” as Internet-trolling creatures when Google sees fit to rope in Lady Gaga’s Twitter account with as basic a sitelink for the “Sign Up for Twitter” page? Google thinks that you are equally as likely to sign up for Twitter as you are to then follow Lady Gaga. Does that mean that nearly every new person to Twitter ends up following Lady Gaga? If so, how does Google know? Are Twitter and Google besties and talk about these things late at night while eating Oatmeal Crème Pies? (Please comment below if you do not follow Lady Gaga on Twitter. Seriously. We are interested.)

Of course, Google does delineate how you can go about demoting sitelinks just in case you thought it had all the control. But, it’s pretty clear that Lady Gaga is the most popular on Twitter, so it only follows that she shows up as a sitelink for the term.

Lady Gaga is about 16,000 followers shy of reaching 17 million followers on Twitter. That, ladies and gentlemen, is insane. No other thing on the Internet is more followed or searched for as Lady Gaga. Those August hopes that Justin Bieber had of coming close to Gaga’s trail of mass stardom on the social network seem like folly now. So, perhaps Google is right in its assumptions. After all, “it’s not hell if everybody knows your name.”

Juliana Kenny graduated from the University of Connecticut with a double degree in English and French. After managing a small company for two years, she joined TMC (News - Alert) as a Web Editor for TMCnet. Juliana currently focuses on the call center and CRM industries, but she also writes about cloud telephony and network gear including softswitches.

Edited by Chris DiMarco
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