Matt Cutts on Using Multiple Breadcrumbs on a Web Page

When it comes to site usability, the important thing is to ensure that visitors can their way around whichever page they land on. Breadcrumbs can be a very effective way to help visitors identify where they are located in a huge website (for example, an e-commerce website). Google integrates breadcrumbs navigation within the search engine result pages (SERPS), but not all breadcrumb navigations get picked up. In a webmaster video published on March 19, 2014, Matt Cutts explains the use of multiple breadcrumbs on a web page in an answer to the question: “Many of my items belong to multiple categories on my eCommerce site. Can I place multiple breadcrumbs on a page? Do they confuse Googlebot? Do you properly understand the logical site structure of my site?”

Cutts recommendations on the use of multiple breadcrumbs are very useful for developing website design that can improve a site’s usability. The major points covered in the webmaster video are as follows:

  • If your web page hierarchy has already been set up to have pages that belong to multiple categories, then it is possible to have multiple breadcrumbs on the same web page
  • When you use breadcrumbs on a web page, Googlebot will pick up the first one and use the others to understand more about your site. Cutts recommends to try your best to arrange all pages in the right hierarchy in order to take advantage of this
  • There is no need to make fuss about not using multiple breadcrumbs as it is normal to have only one set of breadcrumbs and Google encourages it

Take a look at Google webmaster support page about breadcrumbs to see if web pages can have more than one breadcrumb set. Here is the example given on the support page

Books › Authors › Stephen King
Books › Fiction › Horror

If you mark up breadcrumb information in the body of a page within the website, Google will recognize it, use it to understand the information about your pages, and present this information in search results. For example, if you search for ‘Samsung Galaxy S5’ in Google, you can find breadcrumbs of several sites in the search results.

Samsung Galaxy S5

So breadcrumbs have SEO value too. However, breadcrumb navigation is not recommended for websites without a hierarchical structure and such websites can benefit the most from a navigation menu. If not used correctly, breadcrumbs can damage the usability of your site instead of improving it. A professional website design company can help you with a breadcrumb navigation scheme to improve the usability of your website.