SEO Tip #52: Why Aren’t Breadcrumbs Displaying in Search Results for My Site?

Matt Cutts: Great question and I wasn’t sure so I asked the breadcrumb team or folks who work on breadcrumbs and I’ll tell you what my theories were and tell you what they said back.

I said my guess would be either:

A: Bad markup
B: It takes a little while to process the stuff and see it and incorporate it into our index
C: We might not necessarily have that much trust in a particular domain to know whether we want to show breadcrumbs or not.

The breadcrumb folks wrote back and they basically said, “Yeah that’s basically the main set of reasons.” So, as far as the markup you want to make sure that you have identical markup to a lot of the sites that you’ve seen that do have breadcrumbs in the search results. So things like uniform ways of doing things, trying to make sure for example if you don’t really have strong feelings either way you can look at some of the websites that already have breadcrumbs in the search results and make sure that little bit of layout is essentially identical HTML. Then that way you know that our parsing should work relatively well with the breadcrumbs on your website.

The markup is one thing to check out and making sure that’s something that Google can process. The second thing is it does take time for us to sometimes incorporate this data. Think about it not being in the mainline of indexing but maybe an out of band or offline process to sort of realize breadcrumbs are relevant for this site.

So I talked to the team and they said they hadn’t updated their sites that were using breadcrumbs recently but they were going to set themselves a goal of every several weeks or so being able to sort of reincorporate the sites that had put code on their website that would make it a minimal to showing breadcrumbs in the search results. So as long as your patient, the team will keep working on that and making the response time faster.

Then the last thing is we still do have a little bit of trust in your site before we will sort of say, “Yes we want to show breadcrumbs for it.” That’s the sort of thing where just making great content, making a great site, making sure that people know about it, helps with all of those issues.

If you do have a site that you’re proud of, you feel like it’s already high quality, you feel like you’ve had breadcrumbs for a while, you feel like the templates are pretty standardized and Google should be able to pick it up, this is a perfect example where I would tell you to show up in the webmaster forum and say, “Hey I’d love to have breadcrumbs on my site. I think I’ve done everything right. Anyone have guesses about why it’s not showing up for me?”

Then we do have very helpful people who keep an eye on the forum, including super users who are people outside of Google but know an awful lot of stuff, we also have Googlers like John Mueller who keeps an eye on it and can often take that feedback and pass it on to the breadcrumbs team and say, “Hey why doesn’t this website show breadcrumbs in the search results?”

So the webmaster forum might definitely be your friend here. But just pay attention to those two or three factors and I have high hopes that eventually your site will show breadcrumbs.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.