Is it a Google ranking factor?



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

It also helps users understand their current position on your website.

Breadcrumb navigation looks good for Google and users.

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

Let’s find out.

The claim: breadcrumb navigation is a ranking factor

Breadcrumbs caught the attention of the SEO community when Google first added them to search results in 2009. That’s when the search engine rolled out improvements to the way site hierarchies are displayed in their search results.

Before the change, Google typically displayed a green web address, or URL, at the bottom of every search result to let users know where they’re heading:

The green URL has been replaced with a hierarchy showing the precise location of the page on the website (AKA, breadcrumb):

Breadcrumb Navigation: Is It A Google Ranking Factor?

Sites that already had hierarchical breadcrumbs in their navigation benefited from this change because their SERP listing differed from the normal search result.


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Like Aaron Wall Explain at the time:

“Each breadcrumb is a clickable link to the associated page (which could increase traffic to the target site in some cases)…”

In the years that followed, some SEO professionals began to speculate that breadcrumb navigation links could 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’s important to understand how SEO professionals approached it at the time.

In the early 2010s, breadcrumbs were seen not only as a tool to facilitate website navigation, but also as an internal link structure to be optimized.


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Josh McCoy offered this trick in his 2010 article, “What Google thinks about your site: “

“To create an optimal breadcrumb link process, make sure you’ve applied your keyword strategy alongside your site’s content information architecture.

Your URL structure should include category / folder naming conventions that are rich in keywords and relevant content and ensure that the content on the site falls into the appropriate categories.

In 2011, Catfish Comstock cited breadcrumb navigation as one of the three important link structures to be optimized, along with the global navigation model and “alternate link structures”.

Speculation that breadcrumbs are an SEO ranking factor surfaced in a 2012 blog post by Matt Green of Ethical SEO Consulting, titled “Breadcrumb navigation links as an on-page optimization factor. “

“Anchor text used in links continues to be a substantial ranking factor, despite recent algorithmic updates from Google that have reportedly diluted their importance. When breadcrumb navigation is enabled on a website, it creates anchor text links on every page of the website that link to the home page of the site.

Here is, ladies and gentlemen, how you can use breadcrumb links as a positive ranking factor for targeted keywords.

Brian Dean from Backlinko then included in its list of Google’s 200 ranking factors without offering much explanation or evidence.

The evidence against breadcrumb navigation as a ranking factor

The way Google displays search results has evolved over the years, but Google still incorporates breadcrumbs into its SERPs.


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Although Google recommends that website owners and developers implementing breadcrumbs, no one from the search engine has ever confirmed that this is indeed a ranking factor.

The closest recognition to Google’s position on breadcrumb navigation dates back to 2017, when Google’s Gary Illyes was asked: “What is Google’s position on breadcrumb navigation?” ? Do these links convey value? If so, should they?


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In 2021, John Mueller from Google tweeted that Google uses breadcrumbs for crawling (to find internal links) and for rich results (structured data). He also added that the location of the breadcrumb trail on a web page “doesn’t matter for SEO.”

Breadcrumb as a ranking factor: our verdict

Breadcrumb Navigation: Is It A Google Ranking Factor?

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


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In addition, breadcrumbs naturally create more internal links, thus pushing more PageRank to these pages. Potentially, breadcrumbs can impact CTR, although this is more of an indirect benefit.

But adding a breadcrumb trail to your website pages doesn’t guarantee a significant improvement in your rankings. Many websites rank fairly well without using breadcrumbs.

And while Google recommends the use of breadcrumbs for developers and website owners, it’s more from a UX and usability perspective than SEO and ranking.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita / SearchEngineJournal

Breadcrumb Navigation: Is It A Google Ranking Factor?



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