Google’s Breadcrumbs Rich Snippits Format

Believe it or not, Google has a rich snippits format for breadcrumbs. A user on the WordPress.org forums pointed it out to me. Is it cool? Sure. Is it useful? In its current form, probably not, and this is why.

Currently, the Google rich snippits format for breadcrumbs is mostly redundant information. It currently contains three properties: url, title, and child. Two of these properties are completely redundant, url and title (especially when using the HTML5 microdata properties). This is their example of the format using the HTML5 microdata constructs:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Breadcrumb">
  <a href="http://www.example.com/dresses" itemprop="url">
    <span itemprop="title">Dresses</span>
  </a> ›
</div>
<div itemscope itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Breadcrumb">
  <a href="http://www.example.com/dresses/real" itemprop="url">
    <span itemprop="title">Real Dresses</span>
  </a> ›
</div>
<div itemscope itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Breadcrumb">
  <a href="http://www.example.com/clothes/dresses/real/green" itemprop="url">
    <span itemprop="title">Real Green Dresses</span>
  </a>
</div>

Ugly, isn’t it? Now for the same format using RDFa (Google’s example once again):

<div xmlns:v="http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/#">
   <span typeof="v:Breadcrumb">
     <a href="http://www.example.com/dresses" rel="v:url" property="v:title">
      Dresses
    </a> ›
   </span>
   <span typeof="v:Breadcrumb">
    <a href="http://www.example.com/dresses/real" rel="v:url" property="v:title">
      Real Dresses
    </a> ›
   </span>
   <span typeof="v:Breadcrumb">
    <a href="http://www.example.com/dresses/real/green" rel="v:url" property="v:title">
      Real Green Dresses
    </a> ›
   </span>
</div>

That’s much, better. However, this still doesn’t mean that all of the data is non-redundant. The url and title properties still are redundant here as the href property of an anchor gives us the URL (more importantly, it gives the computer the URL), and the title is implied to be the contents of the anchor tag.

The point of microformats/rich data formats is to provide extra data to the computer so it can understand what is obvious to humans. In the case of the url and title properties, the computer fully understands these things without the help of extra data thanks to HTML.

What is nice, however, is the defining of a breadcrumb type for each breadcrumb in the trail, and the defining of a set of breadcrumbs. If the focus was more on standardizing the way we represent a breadcrumb trail in markup I would be all over it.

I also disagree with placing the breadcrumb separator as a member of a breadcrumb, as done in their example. Note that this may just be a typo, or something that is flexible. The way I see it, a separator is just as its name implies, a separator. It separates breadcrumbs, and thus it should not be the member of any particular breadcrumb.

Lastly, I plan on monitoring this format as it evolves and will implement it into Breadcrumb NavXT when I see fit.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Plugin Roadmaps for H1 2011 | mtekk's Crib

9 thoughts on “Google’s Breadcrumbs Rich Snippits Format

  1. Thanks for breaking that down. I did not realize there was so much going on with breadcrumbs on the backend. I’ll have to investigate this on my own site.

    Also, do you know what the impact of this is on SEO?

    *FYI, flexible is spelled wrong

    • phi,

      The fact that Google states that their webcrawler understand them should count for something. However, I don’t think it affects pagerank as of yet.

      Fixed the spelling mistake, thanks for pointing that out.

      -John Havlik

    • Google’s breadcrums format is obsolete, the v:url attribute is wasteful (not needed at all, unless you are not linking your breadcrumbs, but then why have a trail?).

      -John Havlik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *