Google testing breadcrumb navigation in SERPS

(Via WebmasterWorld) Google are currently running a limited-user test on a new SERP feature – instead of the result URL displayed in green under a listing, there is a “breadcrumb trail” style navigation.

Here’s a fairly generic search where the Independent have a small breadcrumb trail:

Google breadcrumb in SERPs

Note that green URLs are not usually linked in Google SERPs, so these represent additional links for any site that gets them. There were sightings of this a few months ago, but it is perhaps nearer to prime time now.

It seems like it could be a fairly handy usability feature if the actual destination URL is too specific – allowing users to choose a higher-level entry point on a particular website.

The results appear to be rotated for individual users and may be tied into particular data centres, so the same search repeated may not show the feature.

Now to have a look at which websites get the treatment, and what criteria are involved – no doubt good categorisation will rear its head again 😉

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6 Comments

  1. How’s tricks? I’d say they have some far more advanced techniques to determine if a parent HTML element might contain breadcrumbs. It’s probably also to do with site architecture – if the breadrumbs consistently point to pages above/below in your architecture it might signal a breadcrumb.

  2. How’s tricks? I’d say they have some far more advanced techniques to determine if a parent HTML element might contain breadcrumbs. It’s probably also to do with site architecture – if the breadrumbs consistently point to pages above/below in your architecture it might signal a breadcrumb.

  3. Do you think the criteria will also be if you actually have a breadcrumb navigation on your site? As that example shown is the same as the actual breadcrumb on the UK page

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/

  4. Do you think the criteria will also be if you actually have a breadcrumb navigation on your site? As that example shown is the same as the actual breadcrumb on the UK page

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/

  5. Not collected any data yet, but many of these things work on a “confidence threshold” – making sure what’s displayed is going to be reliable enough, and I would say an on-page breadcrumb must be the strongest possible signal. Of course, Google will need to be sure it is actually a breadcrumb (because of the separator/surrounding text?) to increase the confidence level. It’s possible there may be some “feedback” in terms of a sitelinks type of algorithm.

    One thing to note is that it isn’t at all obvious that the breadcrumbs are actually links – there’s no underline and colouring is identical to the old unclickable URLs (the ‘UK’ in the screenshot is on mouseover). I doubt these things are getting noticed by the majority of searchers, less getting clicks.

    Incidentally, Google have now confirmed this over on the Google Blog.

    And finally, did anyone spot the deliberate mistake in the first result in the screenshot? 😉

  6. Not collected any data yet, but many of these things work on a “confidence threshold” – making sure what’s displayed is going to be reliable enough, and I would say an on-page breadcrumb must be the strongest possible signal. Of course, Google will need to be sure it is actually a breadcrumb (because of the separator/surrounding text?) to increase the confidence level. It’s possible there may be some “feedback” in terms of a sitelinks type of algorithm.

    One thing to note is that it isn’t at all obvious that the breadcrumbs are actually links – there’s no underline and colouring is identical to the old unclickable URLs (the ‘UK’ in the screenshot is on mouseover). I doubt these things are getting noticed by the majority of searchers, less getting clicks.

    Incidentally, Google have now confirmed this over on the Google Blog.

    And finally, did anyone spot the deliberate mistake in the first result in the screenshot? 😉

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