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Multiple breadcrumbs on the same page?

 6:44 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is it fine to put multiple breadcrumbs on the same page?

Home > Shoes > Basketball Shoes > Nike > Air Force I
Home > Nike > Shoes > Basketball Shoes > Air Force I
Home > Shoes > Men's > Air Force I

The URL of a product page (Air Force I) doesn't change. It's fixed. Can this confuse search engines?

I also wonder which is picked up as Rich snippets in SERPs if I implement markup for breadcrumbs to all?



 8:30 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It seems to me that the search engines generally handle multiple instances of any kind of landmark in the mark-up of a page by picking one (either the first or the last) and ignoring the rest. I can understand why you might offer users these navigation choices, but it might be a good idea to nofollow all but the first (or most important) instance just to keep the link structure less complicated for search engines. It might also be a good idea to submit a sample of this page to the Rich Snippets Testing Tool to see if it reports any errors.


 8:39 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

To my mind, it kind of fails the "Don't Make Me Think" test for usability.

Andy Langton

 8:50 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think the issue with it is the "breadcrumb" format - a breadcrumb, intuitively, is a single path back to where you were. So, multiple breadcrumbs invite confusion!

That said, where you are cross categorising products, it makes sense to let the user know that there are multiple routes in - as it's often impossible to know which would be the best route for them.

So, I would say - keep the single destination and multiple routes, but look at other ways of demonstrating this to your users (and search engines).

To use a very simple example, you might say: "This product is filed under..."

- Delicious shoes
- Orange shoes
- Shoes from shoeland

You also don't need the redundancy of the complete route back to the homepage. If your user has landed on an orange delicious shoe from shoeland, then stick to the choices that are directly related to that. They are there because of one of those characteristics, but you cannot be sure which one - so give them pointers to each. But you don't need a pointer to every possible related category, just the relevant ones.

If that means that a breadcrumb-style navigation element is too simple, then so be it! Just take care when designing any replacements.


 10:24 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

i sometimes use multiple breadcrumbs.

my products can belong to multiple categories and thus there can be multiple breadcrumbs for a single page.

i do show all of the breadcrumbs on a page. i do try to calculate the path (if any) that the customer has used or is most likely to use and enphasise that one.

... what Andy Langton says makes a lot of sense though and i think i might think about that.

i don't believe that using multiple breadcrumbs has damaged me.


 11:14 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thank you, everyone.

All of your advice are very helpful. It would be better to have a single breadctrumbs from the viewpoint of both usability and search engines. But I found I could have another option like Andy says.


 4:39 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I added breadcrumbs to an existing site and, after three months of no increased traffic or noticeable use, I removed it. Traffic didn't budge before, during or after.

breadcrumbs = next to irrelevant for SEO, as are most signals you as a webmaster can add to a page.


 7:23 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

breadcrumbs = next to irrelevant for SEO, as are most signals you as a webmaster can add to a page.

ok, we are in Google SEO forum, so i take your point Sgt_Kickaxe.

i use breadcrumbs to help the user navigate my ecommerce site, and i believe it has good value in that regard!

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