Google replaces URLs with breadcrumb links in search results

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  • November 18, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Google has announced this morning that for certain queries they will be showing site hierarchies in the search results rather than URL’s string. On first inspection I don’t like the system because in all the examples Google has provided the keyword rich product URL is removed and replaced with a more generic category level keyword.

For example this nice URL “/spidersapien/” (in bold)


gets replaced with a less clickable “Toys & Games > Robots”


On the plus side the categories in the hierarchy are links through to the category pages on the site but this isn’t clear when you look at them which could lead to confusion.

Here is how the links are generated:

The information in these new hierarchies come from analyzing destination web pages. For example, if you visit the ProductWiki Spidersapien page, you’ll see a series of similar links at the top, “Home> Toys & Games> Robots.” These are standard navigational tools used throughout the web called “breadcrumbs,” which webmasters frequently show on their sites to help users navigate. By analyzing site breadcrumbs, we’ve been able to improve the search snippet for a small percentage of search results, and we hope to expand in the future.

What do you think? Will this hurt click through rates?

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