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I think breadcrumbs can be used for two things:

  • navigation,
  • showing some kind of hierarchy.

Is it possible to use breadcrumbs only to show hierarchy?

For example consider webpage which aggregates information about shops. Categories and navigation is based on what shop sells. Shops sell multiple things - so can't be assigned to single category "breadcrumb". So making breadcrumbs out of it is quite useless. But all the shops have some location (state and city). I think it would be quite useful to have it shown in Google snippet in form of "State > City", even though there is no dedicated page for aggregating all shops in state or city. Can it be somehow done this way?

  • "Shops sell multiple things - so can't be assigned to single category" - what do you mean by that? Each "thing" can still be assigned to a single (primary) category. (?) – MrWhite Aug 26 '15 at 8:49
  • Eg. shop sells bananas, tvs and cars. Each of this category is for me as important as other. By the way, dealing with multiple categories is not really a point of the question. – szymond Aug 26 '15 at 8:56
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    I was just trying to envisage a real-world situation when it would be OK to have a breadcrumb hierarchy that wasn't linked. Or it would not be possible to link the hierarchy. If you are providing that hierarchy to begin with, then why not link it? – MrWhite Aug 26 '15 at 10:49
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You can have multiple breadcrumbs without links, or you can create a breadcrumb that links to a search (for instance the a State search). Breadcrumbs can be created using the <link> or <meta> tags to hide them from the page example. As long as your users will understand them, there should not be a problem.

Google's breadcrumbs page says they should really be used to show the page's hierarchy but creating a search function for the State would provide this.

It might be better in your situation to use Site Links - if your store name is well known and often searched for this will display different Cities or Stores right under the store's name, it only needs to be done one the home page instructions.

You can also add a tiny amount of structured data to each store's page to make them more likely to show up for localized searches, You can do this with graphically with the markup helper

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Your breadcrumbs should show where on your site you find a page. It sound like each physical location of your store has a page with the address and hours and you want to create breadcrumbs for that.

It doesn't make sense to put a store under the category of what it sells. There shouldn't be a "TVs" in the broadcrumbs of your Backriver, Kentucky store. Rather, the Breadcrumbs might look like:

Home > Store locator > Kentucky > Backriver, KY

Where:

  • "Home" links to the home page
  • "Store locator" links to your main store finder page
  • "Kentucky" links to a page with a list of stores in Kentucky
  • "Backriver, KY" is not linked

If you don't have a page for Kentucky stores, you should consider creating one. If not, you could just omit it from the breadcrumb and use:

Home > Store locator > Backriver, KY

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