I have read that breadcrumbs help Google understand the structure of your site better so I would like to implement it on mine. However, I don't currently have a breadcrumb trail that's visible on the site. Is this against best practices to have the markup, but not display it visually for the user?

Also, I do not have breadcrumbs in my URL structure. So on article pages the URL is like so: https://example.com/article-slug/, and sub-category pages do not show the upper-level category: e.g., I use https://example.com/camping-gear/ instead of https://example.com/outdoors/camping-gear.

Can I still implement BreadcrumbList despite these two factors?

  • What would you put in your breadcrumbs if you don't actually have any? Why would you want to do this? – Stephen Ostermiller Jun 10 '19 at 16:34
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    Well there is still a hierarchy on my site. I just chose not to indicate it in the URL structure and I'm not currently showing a trail on the site. The main point of my wanting to add BreadcrumbList is to better help Google understand the architecture of my site. – A Biron Jun 11 '19 at 18:03
  • If I put a visible breadcrumb trail with links on the site, is it ok to use the markup then, given that my URL structure does not have a trail? – A Biron Jun 11 '19 at 18:14

Is this against best practices to have the markup, but not display it visually for the user?

This contradicts the following points of Google:

Don't mark up content that is not visible to readers of the page. For example, if the JSON-LD markup describes a performer, the HTML body should describe that same performer.

In his guide Manual Actions report Google considers structured data link to hidden content as a spam signal:

Structured data found on hidden content Structured data found on elements that are not visible to the user.

  • I should clarify that while I don't have a visible breadcrumb trail, I do have a navigational menu that the SD markup would follow. In other words - the links will not misrepresent or mislead users, as the same links in the breadcrumb markup will be present on every page of the site. – A Biron Jun 11 '19 at 18:13

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