How Does Google Treat Breadcrumbs On A Website?

How Does Google Treat Breadcrumbs On A Website?
Breadcrumbs are a great way of letting people know where they have landed on your site. Websites aren't like houses where people can come in through the front door only. They can simply 'materialize' within your site premises, and such is the nature of the web. To enhance the usability of your website, you use breadcrumbs to help people figure out where exactly on a site are they sitting on. Breadcrumbs can also help with the SEO of your website.
Google has integrated breadcrumbs navigation within the SERPs, which is a good thing because it makes your content more clickable by making it look attractive and trustworthy. Well, my opinions on the latter might be subjective, but breadcrumbs on result pages have proven to correspond to increased CTR.

Note: The breadcrumb navigation from your site isn't always picked up. Like the many algorithms running at Google, this algorithm is also pretty mysterious. But we do have a few best practices for using breadcrumbs.

Multiple breadcrumb navigation

The other day, I picked up on a video from Matt Cutts where someone asked what would happen if your site had multiple breadcrumb navigation? This could be the case, for example when a single item on your site belongs to multiple parent categories.

According to Matt, Google only picks up on one breadcrumb, which is usually the first. So it seems logical to try to classify an item in the best possible manner for the first breadcrumb. But there's no harm in using multiple breadcrumb navs. In fact, in some cases, it could actually help GoogleBot understand the structure better.

Best Practices

  • As mentioned above, try to explain the site structure in the best possible manner within a single breadcrumb navigation. If you're going for multiple ones, then classify the first one in the best way possible.
  • Only use breadcrumbs when they help a user: for large, multi-level websites. These are for user first of all; if they also help SEO – that’s an additional benefit. Don’t add breadcrumbs just for the sake of adding good internal anchor text.
  • Do not link the current page to itself (the last step in the breadcrumbs should be un-linked);
  • Use breadcrumbs consistently (this makes the user browsing your website feel safer and allows him to faster familiarize himself with how the site is structured)
  • Do not use breadcrumbs in the page <title> tag. It would make the titles too long, and kill their SEO value
  • Do not replace main navigation with breadcrumbs (breadcrumbs visualize your website structure horizontally while the main navigation shows its vertical structure listing its other categories and content types);
Are you using your breadcrumbs properly?

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