Double listings at Google
Have you ever searched for something on Google and noticed that a website has a double listing ? a main listing and a second listing indented ? and wondered "Why?" And then wondered, "How?"
Google lists up to two pages from a domain for any given search. Most likely, you already have two pages listed for your major search terms. Your pages might be listed at #14 and #456, in which case they don't show up together.
When two pages from the same domain show up on the same SERP (search engine results page), Google groups them together. If your two pages are listed at #11 and #18, they will be grouped on the second SERP...assuming Google's default of 10 results per page.
However, you can change your default number of results in the advanced search preferences page.
Or you can make a one-time change by simply adding "num=17&" or "num=7&" (without quotation marks) after "search?" in the SERP URL. Here is an example of how a 9-result page URL looks
One of my client sites delivers web site network monitoring. As I write, it is ranked #3 at Google for "web site monitoring". One page specifically about web site monitoring is ranked #4 for that term.
Actually, using the technique above, I learn that the second page is really ranked #7. How? I set num=7& and see a double listing. I set num=6& and the double listing goes away, bumped to the second page.
Why does your competition merit a double listing at the top of Google's rankings and you don't?
Google wants to deliver results that are important and relevant. In a search for "apples", your site on baking might have a very relevant page and it might even be an important page (and hopefully a tasty one, too!). But your overall site is not as relevant to apples as some others. In a search for "baking", however, you probably have dozens of highly relevant pages, giving Google lots to choose from.
I should note in the example above that most of my client's site is about web site monitoring, so it makes sense that two or more pages would rank very highly for such a term (except that Google will list only the top two).
Google gives my own happiness web site a double listing for "happiness". The second listing is my free "daily happiness" newsletter. Google could have chosen any of a few dozen pages that are highly relevant to a search for "happiness", but it chose the two that other webmasters link to most often.
Both examples above are for major search terms around which a site is built. I have a page ranked #1 for "hairdresser", but don't expect Google to give my site a double listing. My site is not about hairdressers, it is about happiness.
What should you do if you want a double listing for your website?
1. Make sure your website is about a specific topic. "Shopping" is too broad. "Big things, little things, soft things, and funny-looking things" is too broad, unless you want people searching for "things" to find you (And quite a few people actually do search for "things"!).
2. You might have been told to optimize each page of your site for different search terms. That is good advice. Each page should be optimized for exactly what the page is about. But if your website as a whole is about a certain topic, make sure that most of it is optimized for that topic, too. Both your visitors and the search engines will better understand what you are about. Make sure you have plenty of pages of content related to your main site theme.
3. Seek inbound links to several pages. Most webmasters make the mistake of seeking links only to their home page and maybe to their newsletter sign-up page. I sell four ebooks and give away a free ebook. I have two newsletters and an online class. I have many topical articles and a couple funny photos. I seek links to anything I think people might enjoy, and that tells search engines my site has depth.
4. Notice a common thread in the advice above. Content is king. If you have plenty good content, developed around a major theme, and webmasters want to link to it, double listings are very possible.
5. Don't over-expect. Google will give double listings only for major themes, not for all 1,476 search terms your site is listed for.
Why does Google give double listings? Who knows, but as a searcher I find it handy to see both the home page and a highly-relevant deep link.
How long will Google keep giving double listings? Who knows, so this is just a caveat that they could change their policy the day after this article is published.