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  1. #1
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    Breadcrumbs - best practice

    I found myself in a dispute about website breadcrumbs with a co-worker today at work.

    We're in the process of restructuring our breadcrumb hierarchy and we were discussing the best route to take.

    On some of our pages it makes sense (in my eyes) to go 4 levels deep with our breadcrumbs. That is:

    Home > Landing Page > Review > Current Page (which is basically a sub-review with a more narrow/specific focus).
    <snip/>

    Anyway, the co-worker was literally mad at me for suggesting the breadcrumbs go 4 levels deep. He said that Google ignores any breadcrumbs over 3rd in the hierarchy. "Anything after 3 levels/layers is invisible to google.<snip/>

    Q1: Is he right? Is anything after the 3rd crumb invisible to google?

    If I'm wrong please give it to me straight, I just want the truth.

    I showed him an example of a site that goes 4 levels deep and his reply: "Oh, they're one of the few domains that might have enough juice for 4 levels." (he's concerned about link juice)

    So to rectify the situation he had me remove the 'Home' breadcrumb. Please note, we do not have a Home button in our top navigation, but we do have a logo that links to the home page.

    Q2: Is this okay usability-wise to not include the Home page and start right off with our landing page?

    Usability and user experience is important to us, but maybe that's not a big deal.

    Haha, I could probably turn this thread into a series with all the goofy things that go on at my job.
    Last edited by Mittineague; Jun 20, 2012 at 13:49. Reason: per OP request

  2. #2
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Hi frickettz. Welcome to the forums.

    Quote Originally Posted by frickettz View Post
    Usability and user experience is important to us, but maybe that's not a big deal.
    Usability is the real issue here. From what you've described, the focus here is solely on Google, but it really should be on your users. If those breadcrumbs are useful to users, then provide as many as needed. I don't know how Google treats breadcrumbs, but I suspect it has very little effect on SEO. Your focus should be solely on the best user experience, IMHO, so I'd suggest keeping the Home link in the breadcrumb list. If page depth is a problem for Google, I doubt your breadcrumb hierarchy has any relevance to that ... but I'll defer to others on that.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the warm welcome My feeling is that your'e right, and we do have a history of putting almost all of our focus into SEO and almost none into anything else.

  4. #4
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
    ralph.m's Avatar
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    There's a lot about this on the web. For example, I found this article:

    http://usabilitygeek.com/12-effectiv...ility-and-seo/

    It doesn't mention anything about deep links.

    Another thing to consider in terms of this ...

    Home > Landing Page > Review > Current Page
    ... is that the last item shouldn't be a link anyway, so there are only really three levels there.

  5. #5
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    Ralph, that was a great read, thanks! Though maybe slightly unrelated I was particularly interested in the bit about Schemas and Yandex. I have a website in Russian that I work on and if I can do anything to help our standing with Yandex that would be great. I will certainly be looking more into that.

  6. #6
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    Please note, we do not have a Home button in our top navigation
    Maybe you should put that in an H1 at the top of every page. Seriously though, it is quite unwise to omit it. Heck, I've been around longer than I care to recall, but I still look for home links at least as much as clicking logos. If I can be that inexplicably random, so can anyone else. Clickable logos are, like many similar conventions, not written anywhere useful and not done consistently enough to be relied upon. Your Grandma needs a home link. If space is an issue, hide the home link (disp: none, rather than off-screen in this case) in narrow viewports.

    Ralph is right about your breadcrumb: 1) UX and IA are for humans first; Google Supercorp second. 2) Why the heck would you be linking to the current page?! That's dumber than WP blogs that still have the link in the H1 in the full content view.

    ...the co-worker was literally mad at me for suggesting that the breadcrumbs go 4 levels deep.
    Buy him some de-caff and then buy him some books about web dev.

    Anyway, can't internal link value (I inexplicably hate the use of the word "juice" in that context) be controlled/halted with rel="nofollow"?

    Any inaccuracies or typos that may occur are because it's 3am and I can't sleep.

  7. #7
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    We're not targeting any Grandmas, probably not very many Grandpas either. But yeah still I agree with you that it's unwise not to offer an easy way back to the hp, UI & IA -wise.

    And we're not linking to the current page, the last trail in the breadcrumb that signifies the current page is not a link, just an h1 tag.

    But anyway, I lost this battle. And ultimately I'll probably lose the war too since my dispute was with the authority figure.

    I explained to him why I thought it was bad for UI and our Hierarchy, offering all my reasoning. He replied simply with "We will continue to do it how we're doing it." with no logic or reason to back the statement.

    Oh well. Thanks for our input guys.

  8. #8
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    The "three levels deep" is part-myth, part-history and part-misunderstanding.

    1. It is/was said to be good practice to make sure that all pages on the site could be reached within three clicks from the homepage, because people would run out of patience before then. That advice pre-dated drop-down menus and mega-menus, and harks back to the days when if you wanted to get to Section > Category > Page you would have to click through to a page at each level in the hierarchy. These days, far more sites feature more sophisticated navigation that allow you to by-pass levels, so the strict three levels of hierarchy is less relevant to "three clicks from the homepage". And with Google being smarter and more people going through Google (or in-site search), there's a much higher chance they will land on or near the page they want to start with, so there's no need for them to navigate from the home page.

    2. Google used to have far more limited resources than it does now. There probably was a time when it would only spider a few links from the homepage, so if a page was more than 3 clicks away then it might escape Googlebot's attention for a long time. But again that used to refer to clicks from the homepage, rather than depth in the structure. But that was then and this is now. Googlebot has much more resources now and has pretty much limitless patience to crawl right through sites, so the need to keep a simple structure has gone.

    3. Breadcrumbs are there to help people and bots find their way back up through a site. If they've already found that page then it clearly was not too many clicks away.

    It sounds like your colleague is totally clueless. This probably won't come as any surprise to you...

  9. #9
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    We're not targeting any Grandmas...
    That is the kind of wrong thinking that I often encounter. Unless you are developing a very niche website, you are developing a website that can and will be used by anyone.

    Anyway, it's a shame that you lost your debate with your moronic colleague. He may be one of those developers/designers who are completely closed to what really matters in this business: people.

  10. #10
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    I also find that breadcrum should be designed based on click pattern. So users can go back to the previous page. Every time it should refresh when user go to home page.


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