Simple breadcrumb navigation helps Google crawl sites

Published on
by Brafton Editorial
Design websites with customers in mind, rather than Googlebots, to make sure web pages rank highly in search results.

Google might seem omniscient, but it doesn’t automatically index anything published on the internet. It has to crawl through each page on every site, and some content isn’t immediately indexed. There are some things businesses can do to make sure their content gets noticed sooner rather than later. For example, Brafton reported that content posted on Google+ was crawled within six seconds.

Another way to make sure landing pages or product descriptions that businesses worked hard to create show up in SERPs is to optimize the overall structure of a website. Last week, Matt Cutts answered a question about whether or not removing unused pages affects a company’s SEO plans. Now, the head of the Webspam team has offered more information about getting crawled.

The less complicated the navigation, the better

This week’s video included a question about breadcrumb trails, which are what many websites use to narrow down the categories where products, services and landing pages appear. Cutts was asked about pages on ecommerce sites that appeared in multiple breadcrumb trails – did Googlebots have a hard time crawling them, and should they be simplified?

The answer is that simpler breadcrumb trailers are better. Googlebots will generally register the first set of categories for a product description and ignore the rest. However, Cutts implied that over time, crawlers will pick up on the categories and index them – but only up until a point. A handful of trails is fine, but a dozen or two will probably be too complicated for Google to index.

This comes back to the heart of web design for content marketing. Businesses should be thinking of the ways their customers will arrive at landing pages, news stories or product descriptions. A convoluted maze of breadcrumb trails, menus and categories will confuse potential customers as much as Google, so keep things simple and clean. Large ecommerce sites might feel they need to cross-list their offerings, but (according to Cutts), they would probably be better off reducing the number of categories from the start.

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