Short URLs Don't Want Google's Breadcrumb Display URL in SERPs

Dec 3, 2009 • 8:58 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

About two weeks ago, Google introduced breadcrumb display URLs in the search results. It was suppose to be for "small percentage of search results" but they are showing up quiet often. Google said they are doing this for URLs that are "too long, too short, or too obscure to add useful information." So Google adds the useful information for you.

Not all webmasters agree that Google is improving their URL structure with the display URL as a breadcrumb. A WebmasterWorld thread has some webmasters complaining and I know, WebmasterWorld doesn't allow examples. So for you Googlers out there that want examples, I'll give you one.

A search for [rustybrick siddur] brings up this new breadcrumb URL. It looks like this:

Google Breadcrumb URLs

Now, if this was smart, it would either leave my URL alone, because I feel it is pretty short and very descriptive the way it is. Or Google would show the true breadcrumb which is > iPhone Apps > Siddur as shown here:

Google Breadcrumb URLs

Now, it works beautifully for [rustybrick iphone] but even there, is it really needed to change the display URL from to > iPhone Apps? I am not too sure.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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12/03/2009 02:25 pm

Thanks for posting, Barry. I'll pass it on!


12/03/2009 03:07 pm

Hi Barry, We generally don't display in the URL line the crumb that refers to the document (be it linked or not linked), we only show crumbs that have links to other pages in the site. In other words, not displaying "iPhone Siddur" is intentional here. We believe the last crumb doesn't provide enough information to be worth the space it would take — most of the time the crumb text would be the same (or a part) of the title text.

Barry Schwartz

12/03/2009 03:44 pm

So you think the breadcrumb in this case is more descriptive then the original URL?


12/03/2009 03:48 pm

I think the breadcrumb gives you a little bit more context in that it's clear that "iphone_siddur.php" is an iPhone App. Also, you can click on "iPhone Apps" to get directly to your overview page, which I think is a pretty neat addition.

Scott Mc

12/03/2009 06:00 pm

There are many examples where the breadcrumb links are inaccurate or simply ridiculous -- even when the indexed page itself shows a short, concise breadcrumb. For example Note the result. It includes a link to "Denmark" (who knew Rome and Denmark where so close!) even though the result page has a perfectly decent crumbler (e.g., it shows Italy, and not Denmark, on the actual page). Clearly Google still has some work to do, fixing up this feature. And I would hope Google actually looks at the crumbler on the indexed page, to figure out what crumbler links to display on the SERP. Of course it's clear they are NOT doing this -- in my example, "Denmark" doesn't appear anywhere on the page (it's a page about Rome, after all).


12/04/2009 09:26 am

Thanks for posting the example, Scott. I'll pass that on to the team. Let me know if you have any more :)

Melissa Gonzalez

12/04/2009 05:55 pm

For SEO's, I think this will increase the importance of having search engine friendly site structures and using keywords in the URL. I noticed that like in any regular search or PPC results, the keyword you entered in the query will be bolded on URL as well. Personally, it doesn't bother me. I like the change. Melissa Gonzalez


12/04/2009 09:30 pm

I'm all for clarity - but as long as Google doesn't use the "clarity" too often as a justification for less clarity :)

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