On September 19, 2019, Google Search Console (GSC) released an update that includes a feature that showcases breadcrumb structured data.
If you’re not already familiar with GSC, it’s one of Google’s many free tools for website analysis and reporting. All websites should be utilizing this tool and it only takes a couple seconds to link an account to your website. The capabilities of GSC include reporting site errors, fetching site pages to be crawled by Google, updating sitemap and robots.txt files, and reporting search queries and each query’s click through rates.
“Breadcrumb” might seem like a funny name for an element of web design, but it is quite literal of its functionality. I’m sure you’ve heard of the tale of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way back home, and that’s what a website breadcrumb is. The breadcrumb keeps track of the trail that the user takes to get to a page. For example, say a user landed on an interior designer's Homepage, went to the About page, then to a blog post. The breadcrumb at the top of the page will read:
Home > About Us > Blog > Home Improvement Trends For 2020
If you’re not an SEO and you’re saying, “so what?” right now, you’re probably not alone. It does seem like a menial element to have on your website, but it truly does help with the user experience. Users can see where they came from and they have the option to go back. It assists with the navigational process, which is a major pain point on many websites.
Breadcrumbs appear off site, as well. In many cases, Google’s search engine results page (SERP) now includes breadcrumbs in place of the website’s URL. Adding this feature to the SERP has improved user experience and click throughs because it offers more transparency into the website and what users are getting themselves into. Because of this, having breadcrumbs and having the correct breadcrumbs are more essential than ever.
And what exactly is GSC’s new breadcrumb report feature? It basically lets you see if your website’s breadcrumbs are being implemented properly. You can find this report on the left side bar of your GSC account, under “Enhancements.” The report showcases errors, valid pages with warnings, and valid pages. Below the visual graph, GSC provides a detailed report of the exact pages that could use a breadcrumb update.
If the breadcrumbs are not being implemented properly, user experience can be compromised. While Google will not necessarily punish your site for improper breadcrumb usage, it should always be a goal for your website to offer a great, easy to follow user experience.
Having the appropriate breadcrumb markup will also give Google that much more information on your website pages. The more information Google has, the better. This is the exact reason why your page title and H1 should reflect the topic of the page’s content, as should the meta title, as should the meta description. Content might be king – but consistency is key.