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Google Breadcrumbs Structured Data Documentation Updated

     
11:07 am on Jun 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google has updated its data on breadcrumb trails, and how it indicates the page's position in the site's hierarchy.

It's worth a read to make sure you're getting the most out of your data, and to open up the best opportunities for the Knowledge graph.

Breadcrumbs can contain a number of different properties which you can label using Microdata, RDFa markup, or JSON-LD. Google Breadcrumbs Structured Data Documentation Updated [developers.google.com]
11:44 am on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Any ideas about not including the homepage in the schema and examples?
11:51 am on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google has updated its data on breadcrumb trails, and how it indicates the page's position in the site's hierarchy.


I'm not sure how Google can distinguish a breadcrumb trail from any other kind of list with links (whether or not it uses ol as in the example given), but my own breadcrumbs - which don't use any special markup - are now shown in Google SERPs, so it obviously works.
12:38 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wilburforce, this is designed for complex archaic sites with many products/services, vanity URL's etc... Less complex sites are welcome to use the schema if they choose - you never know these less complex sites may one day become mammoths.
4:46 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This is a slightly different thing, but related. I'm not a huge fan of the switch from domains to site names, particularly on mobile. In some cases, having the domain in the breadcrumb gives me an extra indicator that this is indeed the site I want. This isn't such a big problem on desktop, where I can hover over the SERP link and see the domain, but that can't be done on mobile.
5:32 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Johan007

Obviously using the schema.org vocabulary you can tell Google (and any other bot that recognises it) that a list is a breadcrumb list, and add other information (item/name/position) to any list item.

What I am saying is that Google is able to infer - how? - that my breadcrumb list is a breadcrumb list without any help from me, and Google SERPs now show the correct breadcrumb path to my pages.

I note, also, that this applies to very few other sites in my sector.

I have no idea what degree of complexity would be necessary to defeat Google's ability in this, but at that stage it would obviously become necessary to use markup to achieve the same end.

On the other hand, what Google displays in the SERPs doesn't work particularly well for paths with more than three or four levels, so a very large complex site isn't going to get maximum benefit: it will probably display as something like Level-1 > Level-2 ... ...Level-16 > Result-Page.
7:07 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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but my own breadcrumbs - which don't use any special markup - are now shown in Google SERPs, so it obviously works.


Google used to recognize and display breadcrumbs in search results without any special markup. Eventually it disappeared until schema.org markup was added, at which point they returned.
9:29 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wilbur: Google expends much effort in modeling how websites function. Most breadcrumbs have some sort of common element: a class or id "breadcrumb," are positioned in a similar part of the page, usually directly above and to the left of the main content, and have a separator of some sort (usually an arrow or double arrow). So if they know where breadcrumbs are and what they look like, it becomes easier to direct the crawler to pick up on it.

I believed they've done similar things with footer, header, and sidebar sections in order to devalue those links in their algorithm.
9:29 pm on June 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Wilburforce, some breadcrumbs are easy to detect. imagine the url behind 5 crumbs being (with the numbers changed for something meaningful, I just examplified it):

/
/1/
/1/2/
/1/2/3/
/1/2/3/4/

It's not difficult to see a hierarchy there, and if the follow each other without a newline being used then it's easy to spot.

There are also hints in the formatting of the breadcrumb. Think of the separators people use for breadcrumb trails, they differ a little but you could get the top 10 separators to cover a high proportion of instances. If you use a greater than sign with a space on either side to separate two links I'm sure Google will see that as an indicator that it might be part of a breadcrumb trail.

There are other ways to spot it even if you don't make it as easy as that. Say your links are not in a strict hierarchy, it's still easy for Google to see if a link exists between the potential parent and child. Additionally, Google have put a lot of effort into figuring out what is navigation on sites - to overlook such an important navigation tool would be foolish of them. Being able to separate navigation from content makes many things easier with ranking, Google probably know your site a lot better than you suspect.
 

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