Google Introduces Breadcrumb SERPs
In their latest changes, Google has now started to add breadcrumbs to the top of the page. These breadcrumbs are triggered by search queries and have an image with them. It also results in a very different result to a search query than previously and is another step towards Mobile First.
Redefining the index
Google has been working towards Mobile First for some time and this means that the company will favour those sites that render well in mobile devices. This has brought a new way of displaying the results of what people search that is suitable for mobile devices. And the new breadcrumbs appear to be part of this transition.
So far Google hasn’t issued an official announcement about the change to incorporate breadcrumbs in search results. But as they are displaying for people when they search, there’s a good chance this is no test.
Mobile First interface
This change in how those search results are one of the indications that Google is taking a major step away from how its search results are currently displayed. And is a strong indicator that it is moving towards the Mobile First approach that it has been talking about for some time.
Of course, the full definition of what Google means by mobile first is still a little uncertain. But it does seem to focus on how information will be displayed on a mobile device and how it will rank results based on this.
Search results already have a big emphasis on their optimisation for mobile devices. For example, when searching for certain types of information, Google will show results in a format that is best suited to someone on a mobile device.
Google is also taking advantage of user interactions specific to smartphones – swiping is one example. More images also prove popular with mobile users, so Google is incorporating more of them in the results page. But this doesn’t mean that things will stop working on desktop computers. Instead, the Mobile First Search Results will be different to the previous mobile first search index.
The mobile first search index concentrated on showing sites that were optimised for mobile or ‘mobile friendly’ whereas the new search results are a complete rethinking of the entire SERPs.
Breadcrumbs in action
You can quickly and easily see breadcrumbs in action. Let’s say you search for ‘queens of England’ on Google. You will see a series of small blocks, each featuring a picture of the queen and dates for their reign beneath them. Along the top of the pictures is a list of keywords – Monarch > England > Female.
When you click on any one of them, you are taken to another search page. This contains links relevant to that person. So, for Elizabeth I, we have a Wikipedia entry, a couple of articles from the BBC and a royal biography website. The link along the top of the search has now added > Elizabeth I of England to the chain.
The idea of the breadcrumb is that users can navigate away from the search results and explore without needing to type anything – they can simply swipe along the carousel of queens to find more information on the right person. So you can find the one you are looking for within no time.
Search results are also getting cleverer. If you search for ‘top football teams’ you will see results that refer to football, rather than American football. When the search is done from the Google UK search engine. And again, there will be a breadcrumb for each team that allows you to drill down further and access more information without typing in the team’s name.
Optimising for breadcrumbs
The biggest problem at the moment with optimising for breadcrumbs is that we aren’t wholly certain how Google chooses them. Images are obviously important because these are a prominent feature of every breadcrumb. Logos, pictures of a person or place are all key. Schema markup may also be useful, but it is unclear if it is essential.
Ranking for phrases may also not lead to an increase in sales. Most of the research done into breadcrumbs so far shows they are more informational results rather than advertising. This may show they are not always useful for lead generation or even sales.
There are three main points to consider with breadcrumbs. One – these queries do not (currently) seem to conflict with queries that show adverts. Two – they have limited use for generating leads or sales. And three – they are a key indicator of the switch to Mobile First that Google has been discussing for some time.
While more search is clearly needed to better understand breadcrumbs and their place in the new SERPs, it is for most businesses more of a curiosity at this stage. However, if you find an opportunity to optimise for a breadcrumb that might help your business, it may well be worth doing this as you create the content.