Google Rolls Out Breadcrumb Display in SERPs

By: Chris Crum - December 23, 2009

Update: Google announced today that it will now be rolling out the use of breadcrumbs in seach results on a global basis. They will only be used in place of some URLs – mainly the ones that don’t give the added context of a link the way that the breadcrumbs do. Google says:

Some web addresses help you understand the structure of the site and how the specific page fits into the site hierarchy. For example, consider a search for the biography of Vint Cerf (Google’s Internet Evangelist). The URL for one result, "www.google.com/corporate/execs.html," shows that the page is located in a page about "execs," under "corporate," which is on the "google.com" site. This can provide valuable context when deciding whether to click on the result.

Often, however, URLs are too long, too short, or too obscure to add useful information.

That’s where the breadcrumbs come in. Google says the feature should be available globally within the next few days.

Original Article: Google appears to be testing breadcrumbs in some search results, at least in some areas. If you are unfamiliar with the term breadcrumbs, it refers to the hierarchical display commonly used in site navigation. For example: Home Page>Product Page>Product A Page.

Do you utilize breadcrumbs on your site? Comment here.

Several bloggers have noticed Google displaying these types of breadcrumbs in various places in seemingly random results to some queries. For example, Rob Hammond provides the following screen shot:

Breadcrumbs in Google Search Results

Leo Fogarty provides another, which shows the breadcrumbs displayed in a different position within the search result:

Breadcrumbs in Google Search Results

Google’s use of breadcrumbs appears to only be a test, and a limited one at that. Google has talked repeatedly about sites having good site architecture in the past. This allows Google to more easily and quickly crawl sites.

Bing acknowledges this too. Rick DeJarnette of Bing Webmaster Center recently said, "You can have great content and a plethora of high quality inbound links from authority sites, but if your site’s structure is flawed or broken, then it will still not achieve the optimal page rank you desire from search engines."

Here are some tips from both Google and Bing regarding site architecture issues. In addition, Google recently provided this related information on getting your site crawled faster.

If Google begins incorporating the breadcrumbs display as in the above tests, on a mainstream level, that will be all the more reason to clean your site architecture up, at least in the navigation area. Site architecture certainly goes beyond this, but it is a key part of usability anyway.

Have you seen breadcrumbs show up in Google results? What do you think about the idea? Share your thoughts.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • http://www.seosean.com/seo-packages.php SEO Packages

    That’s interesting, there seems to be a lot of testing and things going on with Google right now. I think they are trying to reap up and find a way they can be better than Bing or the possible Yahoo/Bing merger.

  • http://www.cdadc.com Down Syndrome history and more

    I really don’t see the point of it.

    Seems redundant, as the url is provided anyway, which tells the searcher all that information.

    So, if http://www.cdadc.com/ds/downsyndrometreatments.htm is the url, what benefit is then reiterating the info as http://www.cdadc.com> down syndrome > treatments ?

    I guess another question is how do they work out the bread crumb names?

    How do you go from the France car hire example above, that contains no subdirectory, to having a breadcrumb that misleads you into thinking there is one?

    This is very confusing stuff, and may be another consideration for web masters in naming and locating a web page though. BUT,

    Honestly though, we would need guidelines on how Google creates such bread crumbs, before we could confidently start incorporating the idea into the web site seo. Assuming there is some advantage to doing so.

    • http://www.floridaventureblog.com/ danrua

      As to why, I’m guessing Google feels the breadcrumbs are more informative for readers than the url. The first screenshot shows they replaced url with breadcrumbs and it is more readable.

      • http://www.seedurham.co.uk/accommodation Durham Accommodaio

        That’s a good point – to the average surfer they dont need or want to know about page extensions.

        So having
        Sitename > category > page

        is much better than displaying

        http://www.somewher.c/somethings/thispage.asp

        I hoping that Google is clever enough to make a breadcrumb for that type of link. Split out the / and lose the extension.

    • http://www.toysonwheelsvariety.com Toy Man

      If the bread crumbs are displayed it makes it a lot easier for the reader to actually read it.

  • http://www.digitalbranders.com SEOFirm

    Even if it does not have apparent benefits for the user, it is a big push to webmasters to spruce up their site architecture and get their house in order!

  • http://www.clancyblue.com ClancyBlue

    It’s nice to provide such useful information that Google is testing breadcrumb in SERPS. If Google implements it in the future, it encourages webmaster to build websites in clear navigation. Because it is still often to got lost when browsing websites.

  • http://www.CompuSolver.com CompuSolver

    Some posters seem to think that Google is creating the breadcrumbs, rather than using the breadcrumbs it finds on the websites it crawls.

  • http://ipt.my/blog IPT Admin

    Actually I didn’t realize this until you tell the people. Even though I always using search engine but I am not alert with the result. Good information.

  • http://vitalviralpro.com Troy

    The people who are saying the breadcrumbs are pointless are completely _missing_ the point.

    Just because a site is organised hierarchically from a navigation standpoint doesn’t mean the pages are stored in a directory structure reflecting that hierarchy!

    And as for Google finding the breadcrumbs lol. I think you’ll find Google can easily create them whether the site shows breadcrumbs or not.

    I think this is a great feature and no.

  • http://www.bidbuy.ro licitatii

    SE is evolving, that is great news.

  • http://www.hqlogos.com Business logos

    It would also be great if a standard for breadcrumbs is developed to make things easier for search engines, like through a rel attribute or even by enclosing it in some specific div.

  • http://www.nsdtech.com NSD Tech

    Wow… that looks so cool from Google. I think Google might be picking that some way from the website, or based on the site map file created and probably based on the file names like default.htm vs. page1.htm (lying in same folder hierarchy).

    This will be good for the readers – gives them better hierarchy in the results, but will it impact the SEO? I dont think so. Its just that – a site with better folder structure and a better management might get indexed faster.

  • http://www.amecomputers.com Computer Tips

    Always on top of things, Google is always one step in front of the competition, I have seen the breadcrumbs and I like it, it is a very nice addition to the search results.

  • http://www.nashvilleseo.info Nashville SEO

    I love bread crumbs. It’s a great way to improve the UX. But be careful not to draw too much attention to them, or they may reduce conversion rates, since it can cause people to click around too much on your site and get off the green path.

    • http://www.lancashireroseblinds.co.uk Guest

      i think its a good idea, as others have said great for SEO and consumers too.

  • http://www.business-directory.co.za Alvin

    Would be interesting to see if Google attempts to breadcrumb dynamic URLs like:

    …index.php?fArticleId=5100search-all.php?category=102&location=&submit=Search224

  • http://www.tmdesigner.it/blog Tmdesigner

    That’s a good thing for customers and seos! Nice

  • http://www.b-seenontop.com Donna

    I can live without it. Displaying the breadcrumb will not influence my decision to click or not click. It just slows scrolling the page.

    • Paul

      Search engines including even Goggle, seam to realize breadcrums are nothing less then an essential part of the www. Example, Verizon outsourced hardcover lists ” DMV ” in Pennsylvania, only under ” L ” for license services NO ONE But NO ONE would look under the “L” section in the yellow pages. Ps- By the way there is no DMV bullet, xref etc. Answer: BREADCRUMBS

  • http://www.dailymoneysaving.co.uk Abhijeet

    I can’t imagine how that could help me in Google search. To be honest, not impressed much!

  • http://www.kerala360.net kerala

    i studied about breadcrumbs importance in seo 2 years back. but i was unable to find any proof that time. and now it seems to be useful. anyway excellent

  • http://sandaldjepit.com/ atpaz

    i think this is good movent from google. it make us easy to understand the site structure (map).

  • http://westcoastvinyl.blogspot.com West Coast Vinyl

    Wonder how this will affect some of the blogs out there?

  • http://www.contemposuits.com/zootsuits.html zoot suit

    Google never seems to sit still. Always making it harder to achieve SEO.

  • http://www.heldigselv.dk Ejvind

    It’s always good to know what google are working with – although this is one of the areas that needs to be looked into for finding a technical solution that is workable.

    And the maybe Google decides not to use the feature afterall :-)

  • http://www.ishop.co.uk iShop Ltd

    Great to know this, and pleasing to hear because all our clients automatically have a well structured shop with us, and the “crumbtrail” is automated for them, with structured URLs… Lets hope this will help boost them further up the rankings with no extra work involved 😉

  • http://www.independentcomputerconsultant.com computer consultant

    Google will be making a lot of changes/improvements to better compete with yahoo/bing.

  • http://www.triadnchomesforsale.com/custom3.shtml Winston Salem Homes for Sale

    Personally, I think this would make search results more effective. Sometimes, even Google, displays a result, but the page you are taken too does not reflect the actual result shown. Showing the site architecture should make search more friendly for real estate and other search terms.

  • http://www.3rbu.com/vb Guest

    i think this is good movent from google. it make us easy to understand the site structure (map).

    http://www.3rbu.com

  • http://www.laokay.com Steve

    I liked the breadcrumbs as I would search for say “24 hour fitness” and instead of searching around to find where the hell they put the “find me your locations” page, the breadcrumb had a link for “locations”, which took me right to where I wanted to go.

    Why are the breadcrumbs disappearing tho when it’s quite obvious that I use them a lot when I see them. Shouldn’t Google give the users the choice to use them or not, or did they take it away and make it option that I’m not aware of?

  • http://www.thebookabyss.com.au/abyss-blog Australian Online Bookshop

    I think it actually throws up more relevant results and if it encourages site owners to have clear navigation structure then that’s a good thing for the user.

  • http://www.skinamedicalspa.com botox injections norfolk

    I think when you get a lot of pages on your site it becomes more important to use bread crumbs. Before we lambast google for this idea, we should see if it becomes a handy feature. One of the things I like about Google si that they are always experimenting and testing.

  • http://www.plantinhamilton.com Get Listed in Google

    I was using Breadcrumb on one of my site for sometimes, but I never thought that Google would have a test about it for websites’ architecture pages. I’ll put more consideration about it to improve my websites performance. Thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.Tribal-sports-wear.net Wholesale T Shirts Supplier

    How does it help the searcher find, let say Blank T-Shirts, any faster or easier. I understand the point of breadcrumbs, I just don’t see how google including them in search results will help someone find Wholesale T Shirts.

  • http://www.surinamehuizen.nl/ Vakantie Woning

    Makes your site more undestandable…google wants more structured sites. Good for google is good for the human net surfer.

  • http://bugged.biz Andreas Krokene

    This article has given me a reason to reconsider using blogs for my websites, instead of static pages, even if it is possible to use software to rotate different index .html pages.

    Thanks for the article and everyone’s comments.

  • http://www.brandmantra.net/ Ecommerce Website Design

    I feel it would be great for the well structured sites. It would help the visitors also to find the way to reach their destination.

    I think Google will give this opportunity to those valuable sites, whose results are shown with the sitelinks.

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Sarah Edwards

    Seems like a good development if it prioritises well organised sites – will help users find what they’re looking for, and means good web design and seo will pay off.

  • http://www.partyrama.co.uk Partyrama.co.uk

    I think its a great idea!!!

    In our site,
    http://www.partyrama.co.uk

    it will provide great content and easy navigation to products

    Thanks
    Sri

  • http://www.rupersonal.com Dallas

    I like the idea… we thought of implementing this on our site http://rupersonal.com but didn’t get to yet.

    I have to agree that it helps you see where you are coming from and how you landed on a page or another and find your way out. With big sites it’s easy to get lost in the ocean of pages.

    So, thank you for the reminder and the useful linking in this article.

  • http://snifan.blogspot.com nifan sunandar

    my blog down rank in search engine i don’t know what is happening

  • http://www.lexolutionit.com Maneet Puri

    Breadcrumb navigation is no doubt an efficient practice. But I dont understand how that will help in Google SERPs? As a user, I will not click on a particular link just because it has a beatiful breadcrumb..

  • http://www.freight88.com Freight88

    Seeing the practical application versus what is currently being displayed makes me wonder if that was only a test market to remove the urls completely from the search results?

  • Guy

    What if the breadcrumbs were a way to reduce your bounce rate? Let’s face it, sometimes Google doesn’t always return the best result for a term, or the page they return is the best on on that website.

    These breadcrumbs could be a way to show a user how to get through a website to find what they are looking for before they click through.

  • http://www.aboutlifeplanning.com Life Planning

    Google is always so creative. I must say that this is a useful feature.

  • http://www.gtglobeindustries.com michael

    Google is great ….they are always doing something unique

  • http://www.arcaderush.net/solitaire-games solitaire

    Google is great ….they are so unique and advanced.

  • http://www.secretsoftraders.com Secrets of Traders LLC

    I think it actually throws up more relevant results and if it encourages site owners to have clear navigation structure then that’s a good thing for the user.

  • http://ripsychotherapy.com Mike A

    It’s good to know what Google is playing around with. But I think I will wait to add bread crumbs to the site till this becomes a more established factor in Google’s SERPs.

  • http://www.thenationalpages.co.uk/ Nigel

    Breadcrumbs provide very useful navigation information in multi-level websites.

    This Google enhancement looks useful. It gives you immediate awareness where you’re going to be parachuted in on a large website.

    At http://www.thenationalpages.co.uk users like our breadcrumb trails and they’re good for our SEO. I hope this encourages others to follow good Breadcrumb practice.

  • http://roshanjoshi.com.np SEO Nepal

    Ya definitely useful. kinda reminds of the new side navigation in Bing.

  • http://www.erotic-toy.dk Kim J

    I like that google keeps it

  • http://www.neotericuk.co.uk/seo-london.php Seo London

    Good move by Google it will help searcher to get the results whom have clean and efficient navigation at top and also good for companies as this move will help them to increase conversion rate/ratio.

  • http://www.bikeshopcastlehill.com.au Home Solar Power Systems

    Very informative! Good job by Google. Now the users can navigate easily

  • http://www.axleit.com.au SEO brisbane

    How does it help the searcher find, let say Accountants Brisbane, any faster or easier. I understand the point of breadcrumbs, I just don’t see how google including them in search results.

    • Stupidscript

      It’s about bringing context to the listing. It’s more than simply finding something. Putting the listing into some context helps make decisions about which link to visit. For example:

      Search for “gold digger”

      A result displaying the title “Gold Digger Tools” leads … where, exactly? Is that a clothing site, a jewelry site, a rohypnol (“roofies”) site, or a site that sells helmets, picks and pans? In other words, is this for the type of gold digger that is trying to attract a wealthy mate, or for one that is trying to mine the ore?

      Listing without breadcrumbs:
      Gold Digger Tools

      Listing with breadcrumbs:
      MiningStuff.com => Gold Mining => Tools => Gold Digger Tools

      It’s definitely a good time to start wrapping your head around the notion of “providing context”, because the web is heading into its “semantic” period … where each link will be more or less valuable based on its relationships with and context to information found behind other links. Google “semantic web” for more from Tim Berners-Lee, among other big thinkers.

  • http://www.blindacre.com Guest

    Breadcrumbs are always extremely helpful when dealing with a large site that contains a lot of information. Great idea, it makes navigating much easier.

  • Guest

    This is great for our site. We don’t have a deep directory structure, and pages are numbered, so it turns an uninformative url like “/en/1234″ into a breadcrumb like “home > news > exciting new widget”. It must get this from the breadcrumb we display at the top of the page, since the information isn’t in the directory structure or sitemap. We use

  • http://www.valve-biz.com/ Valve Biz

    I think the breadcrmbs appears in the search result encourages the webmasters to make more efforts on clean site construction and navigation. It is positive for all the net users.

  • http://www.controldatainc.com/renee agency collection

    As mentioned in a comment, I was thinking the same thing when I read this. Google has had more press releases and updates since Bing was release than they had in its lifetime. Google guys are smart, its a great marketing idea and keeps the press looking at Google even if its pointless and doesnt work, yor still advertising and putting the name Google out there.

  • http://www.smallchickencoop.org Small Chicken Coop

    I haven’t noticed the use of Bread Crumbs in Googles search results, but I haven’t really looked.

  • Tony

    What the heck is a breadcrumb? I already get lousy returns on searches, and I still see alot of garbage on the net, like news bulletin, the Country Fair or 2007 wants to thank all for attending?
    Yes, the corporate sites all come first, the biggest loser is Wikipedia….I hate wikipedia always coming first in my search for anything. The current searches just don’t keep up with what’s new -crap all over the place.

  • http://www.playsite247.com/ Mario

    I feel it would be great for the well structured sites. It would help the visitors also to find the way to reach their destination.

  • http://www.indigenoustour.com Kerala Tourism

    Great article, helped me figure out my problem.

  • http://intimos.dk Sexlegetøj

    It´s good that google keeps trying new things. That way they can test whats best for the users/searchers.