This week we were unpleasantly surprised when we noticed the appearance of one of our clients in the Google search results had dramatically changed.
Soon the surprise changed into curiosity. It appeared we missed some Google news. Google recently announced showing the site hierarchy within the search results for some sites which offer hierarchical breadcrumbs in their navigation. And it looks like this:
To be honest it is still not clear if this is really what users are looking for. I think most users in general just click the clickable title. Besides not every website user will like that Google lets the user browse away.
The change: Google replaces the green url at the bottom of the search result
Google usually shows a green web address, or URL, at the bottom of each search result to let you know where you’re headed. Google claims too often url’s are too long and not sufficiently descriptive. They do not really guide the user.
The new feature replaces this URL in some search results with a hierarchy showing the precise location of the page on the website. The new display provides valuable context and new navigation options.
Is this a useful change?
If your website has a clear structure, well covered by bread crumbs, it could be a useful new feature. From the search result the user can directly decide whether he would like to visit a different part of your website. The structure of your website and what you have to offer become more clear.
This is for sure an advantage for the example below. It shows the restaurant Beluga in Maastricht (The Netherlands). Let’s assume I know this restaurant and that I want to find another restaurant. I can directly click on “Restaurants” within the shown site hierarchy. And when I want to know more about Maastricht I just click “Maastricht”.
Not everybody will be pleased
If you put a lot of effort in targeting a certain page, this new feature might not make you too happy. It enables people to quickly jump away from the search result.
Another complaint could be that search results have to show relevant results, meaning relevant for the user. I believe showing the structure doesn´t add any relevance to the specific search result.
The question is whether these breadcrumbs are really going to help the user. In my opinion a well optimized website shows a good title with a unique description to make clear what the page is about. The url in general didn´t have that purpose for most users. I don´t believe this will change showing breadcrumbs. But for some websites, especially with a clear structure, I believe it can lead to more traffic. The future will show whether this will be the case.
Are you happy with these breadcrumbs? Please leave your comment below.