Is this a Google ranking factor?

Adding breadcrumbs to your website helps Google better understand your content from a hierarchical perspective.

It can also help users understand their current position on your website.

Breadcrumb navigation seems to be good for Google and users.

But does this mean that it has a direct impact on your organic search rankings?

Let us find out.

Disclaimer: Breadcrumb navigation is a ranking factor

When Google first added breadcrumbs to search results in 2009, breadcrumbs caught the attention of the SEO community. At that time search engines introduced enhancements on how to display the site hierarchy in their search results.

Before the change, Google would usually display a green web address or URL at the bottom of each search result to let users know where they are going:

The green URL is replaced with a hierarchy (aka breadcrumbs) showing the precise location of the page on the website:

Breadcrumb navigation: is it a Google ranking factor?

Sites that already provide layered breadcrumbs in their navigation benefit from this change because their SERP lists are different from regular search results.

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As Aaron Wall explained at the time:

“Each breadcrumb is a clickable link to a related page (in some cases, this may increase traffic to the target site)…”

In the next few years, some SEO professionals began to speculate that breadcrumb navigation links might be a ranking factor.

Evidence of breadcrumb navigation as a ranking factor

To understand how the idea of ​​breadcrumb navigation as a ranking factor came about, it is important to understand how SEO professionals dealt with it at the time.

In the early 2010s, breadcrumb navigation was not only seen as a tool to simplify website navigation, but also as an optimized internal link structure.

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Josh McCoy provided this tip in his 2010 article “Google’s View on Your Site”:

“To create the best process for breadcrumb links, make sure you have applied your keyword strategy along with the information architecture of your website content.

Your URL structure should include keyword-rich and content-related category/folder naming conventions, and make sure that the website content belongs to the appropriate category. “

In 2011, Catfish Comstock listed breadcrumb navigation along with global navigation templates and “alternative link structure” as one of the three important link structures to be optimized.

Matt Green of Ethical SEO Consulting published a blog post titled “Breadcrumb Navigation Links as an On-Page Optimization Factor” in 2012. There was speculation that breadcrumbs are SEO ranking factors.

“Anchor text used in links is still an important ranking factor, although recent Google algorithm updates have reportedly weakened their importance. When breadcrumb navigation is enabled on the site, it creates anchors on every page of the site Text links, these links will link back to the homepage of the website.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you use breadcrumb links as a positive ranking factor for target keywords. “

Backlinko’s Brian Dean then included it in his Google 200 ranking factor list, but did not provide much explanation or evidence.

Evidence against breadcrumb navigation as a ranking factor

The way Google displays search results has been evolving over the years, but Google still includes breadcrumb navigation in its SERPs.

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Although Google recommends that site owners and developers implement breadcrumb navigation, no one in the search engine has a record to confirm that this is indeed a ranking factor.

The closest recognition to Google’s breadcrumbs position was in 2017, when Google’s Gary Illyes was asked: “What is Google’s position on breadcrumbs? Do these links convey value? If so, should they do it? ?”

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In 2021, Google’s John Mueller Tweet Google uses breadcrumbs for crawling (find internal links) and rich results (structured data). He also added that the location of the breadcrumbs on the page “is not important for SEO.”

Breadcrumb navigation as a ranking factor: our judgment

Breadcrumb navigation: is it a Google ranking factor?

Breadcrumbs help provide a positive user experience for website visitors and strengthen the site structure for search engines.

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In addition, breadcrumbs will naturally build more internal links, thereby pushing more PageRank to these pages. Potentially, breadcrumbs may affect click-through rates, although this is more of an indirect benefit.

However, adding breadcrumbs to your website pages does not guarantee any significant improvement in your ranking. Many websites rank pretty well without using breadcrumbs.

Although Google recommends the use of breadcrumbs to developers and website owners, this is more from a user experience and usability perspective than SEO and ranking.


Featured image: Paulo Bobita/SearchEngineJournal

Breadcrumb navigation: is it a Google ranking factor?

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