Google Search Console Adds Breadcrumbs Report, Sends Out Warnings for Structured Data Errors

Google recently announced a new Breadcrumbs report available in the Search Console to inform site owners about markup issues. In 2015, Google introduced support for schema.org structured data, including the breadcrumbs URL structure, in order better present URLs in search results. The Search Console’s new report uses this data to help site owners fix any issues preventing their breadcrumbs from displaying as rich search results.

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Over the weekend, the console started emailing out notices to those who have errors in the breadcrumb structured data on their sites. It includes how many URLs are affected, along with a link to the new report.

Google Breadcrumbs Report notice

One common error that users are seeing is a “Missing field ‘item,’” which references one of the properties Google requires for displaying that content as a rich result. The ‘item’ property is the URL to the webpage that represents the breadcrumb, as Google prefers the final crumb to be linked.

WordPress site owners have started reporting breadcrumb issues in the support forums for various plugins and themes. Breadcrumb NavXT, a plugin that is active on 800,000 sites, allows users to generate customizable breadcrumb trails. There are already half a dozen support threads opened regarding Breadcrumb markup errors listed in the console. Recommendations for fixing this issue vary based on the specific property that is missing and the breadcrumb configuration the user has in place.

Breadcrumb NavXT plugin author John Havlik has advised some users to remove the schema.org markup for unlinked breadcrumb templates in order to remove the error, although this may not offer the best presentation in search snippets. Others have suggested allowing the %link% tag in the unlinked breadcrumb template and Havlik added this to the 6.4.0 milestone for the plugin over the weekend.

The Yoast SEO plugin also has an option for adding breadcrumbs and multiple users are reporting errors in the Google Search Console. Solutions vary, depending on what types of pages are outputting the error, but the most common advice Yoast support team members are offering is to check to see if there is a theme or plugin that is adding conflicting breadcrumb markup.

There is no easy prescribed fix that will apply to all situations. It depends on how a site owner has configured breadcrumbs through a plugin or if they are automatically generated by a theme.

If you received a notice from Google Search Console, the first step is to determine whether it’s a theme or a plugin that is generating your breadcrumbs. Next, browse the support forums for the theme/plugin that provides the breadcrumbs and see if the author recommends a fix or is working on one.

Although breadcrumbs do not currently have a direct affect on rankings, they are prominently displayed in search snippets and generally contribute to a positive user experience. For more information on solving specific errors, check out Google’s documentation on Breadcrumb structured data.