Last week, the first reports appeared about Google including site hierarchies in search engine listings for web pages. The jury is out whether this actually enhances the value of the listing or creates confusion.
For those of you unfamiliar with breadcrumb navigation, here’s the Wikipedia definition:
Breadcrumbs or breadcrumb trail is a navigation aid used in user interfaces. It gives users a way to keep track of their location within programs or documents.
Breadcrumbs typically appear horizontally across the top of a web page, usually below title bars or headers. They provide links back to each previous page the user navigated through to get to the current page or—in hierarchical site structures—the parent pages of the current one. Breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting or entry point.
Whilst there are various ways for breadcrumbs to be displayed on a website, the most common way is by using a “>” symbol to separate the various levels of the site hierarchy.
This might be how our Premium SEO page might be displayed:
e.g Home > Optimization > Premium SEO
The introduction of the breadcrumbs in the Google search engine listings is aimed at providing better insight into the context of the result, in case where the displayed URL is too long, too short ot too obscure. As detailed on the Google release blog:
Today we’re rolling out an improvement that replaces the URL in some search results with a hierarchy showing the precise location of the page on the website. The new display provides valuable context and new navigation options. The changes are rolling out now and should be available globally in the next few days.
Google is relying on site owners having breadcrumb navigation active on their website for it to be displayed in search engine listings, and it seems that the algorithm determines whether breadcrumbs better represent your listing than a URL.
The added benefit of the breadcrumb navigation is that searchers can access any level of the hierarchy directly from the URL.
For example, in the Premium SEO example provided above, if you were to click the “Optimization” link in the breadcrumb, you can now access our Optimization department page directly from the search results – rather than only being able to access the Premium SEO page.
It definitely gives searchers more freedom in their access to sites, but will website owners want all levels of their navigation accessible. It will force website owners to be conscious of the design and effectiveness of all pages in the hierarchy, rather than just key destination pages.
- What do you think of the new breadcrumbs in search engine listings?
Share your thoughts with our readers below.