Breadcrumb Navigation and Google SERPs: Why You Should Care

It’s likely you’ve seen breadcrumb navigation in place of site URLs in Google’s SERPs.  Maybe you noticed in passing or, like me, you heard colleagues talking about it and knew to be on the lookout.  But no matter which situation you were in when you first noticed the breadcrumbs in the results, there’s no denying that they are quite compelling when they appear.

It is this compelling display that makes breadcrumb navigation an important factor to consider.  In competitive spaces where you’re fighting against strong online competition, an increasingly sophisticated universal search display, sponsored ads, and more, having an element that can help break through the information overload means people are going to be more likely to click on your search engine result.

Furthermore, search engine results that display breadcrumb navigation in place of URLs allow users to click not only on the traditional blue title, but on the breadcrumbs in the listing as well.  This not only promotes site usability (which web searchers can deduce before they even get there), it means there are more places for users to click to get to your site – something your most vicious competitor may be lacking.

It remains to be seen how prominent these new SERP breadcrumbs will become, but even if Google decides to close shop on this experiment after a time, remember that breadcrumbs provide an opportunity for SEMs to incorporate more keywords onto their clients’ pages and that they promote easier navigation for users who do end up on the site.  So even if you try to optimize the way a website shows up in Google’s SERPs and it doesn’t pan out, you’re still optimizing elements of a website you can and should control – and implementing one SEO factor that can keep a website on the path to success.

breadcrumb navigation

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  • Matthew Keough says:

    It will make analyzing traffic from Google more interesting. I can conceive of the situations where a particular product page will rank for a term and the category page does not.

    If a searcher reaches the website by clicking on the SERP breadcrumb, the category page would receive traffic via keywords for which it has no ranking.

  • Navigational searches take up a good chunk of people’s daily searches on the web. i.e. “best buy digital cameras” People are using the engines to search a site section they know they want to go to.

    This new feature helps searchers get where they want to go quicker. It also rewards sites that practice good information architecture and usability. If these breadcrumbs help makes the SERPs and web better, I’m all for them.

    If you can’t work breadcrumbs into your existing design, then plan on them for your next one!

  • If rankings are a concern, although they are by the page, not the website all pages individually are not capable of achieving first page search engine rankings without help from a second level push.
    This second level push implies unleashing the power of collective pages unified with intent to produce significant ranking factors which you can then channel to the appropriate area of your website.

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