Have you received this warning from your Google Search Console?

New Breadcrumbs issue detected for site https://my-shopify.com.

Search Console has identified that your site is affected by 1 Breadcrumbs issue.

You’re not alone.

This warning showed up on the console for one of my clients a few months back. But because he didn’t know what Breadcrumbs were, the issue went unchecked—and the consequences were disastrous.

This is the evolution for this particular client’s keywords between January 1st and June 30. Google discovered the Breadcrumbs issue on one page around March, and the problem slowly spread through the website over the following weeks:

breadcrumbs effect on SEO

But not to worry: as long as you react early enough, the Breadcrumbs Issue is very easy to fix on Shopify.

Let’s head straight in!

1. What are Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs are a little navigational aid that you can find on most well-structured websites.

They are designed to help the user understand where they are on a website, and the path they took to get there.

You’ll usually find them at the top of a page, or blog, in this form:

www.zdnet.com > blog > microsoft

For a perfect breadcrumb trail, your user should be able to navigate all the way up in the site hierarchy, one by one, by starting from the last breadcrumb in the breadcrumb trail.

Fun fact: the reason they are called breadcrumbs is after the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale—in which they dropped little pieces of bread in their trail, so they could go back home in case they got lost.

Why is this important for Google?

breadcrumbs in search results

Google uses breadcrumbs similarly to your users. The algorithm navigates your Shopify store, then structures it in order to categorize it… and eventually rank it.

In other words, breadcrumbs help Google understand what your website is all about and how the products relate to each other. Therefore, it’s quite important to keep them up to date!

One last thing you should know about breadcrumbs is that your store is very likely to be using attribute-based breadcrumbs, where your trail is made up of product attributes, like so:

Home > Product category > Gender > Size > Color

2. The Breadcrumbs Issue: how it happens and how to prevent it

In my experience, there’s two reasons why your Google Search Console started warning you about breadcrumbs issues:

1. You’ve just implemented breadcrumb navigation on your store, and something went wrong;
2. You’ve just installed a new theme, or updated an existing one.

If you’re looking to activate breadcrumb navigation on your store:

Go to your admin dashboard, click Online Store > Themes > Customize. Somewhere in product pages or collection pages (depending where you want to activate breadcrumbs), find a “Show breadcrumb links” checkbox.

Check it, done!

The great thing about Google Search Console is that they want you to fix your site’s issues. You’ve probably received this or a similar notification:

breadcrumbs issues shopify

Click the “Fix Breadcrumbs issues” button, and the Search Console will show you which URLs are missing proper breadcrumbs.

Due to the nature of Shopify and liquid code, is very likely that the issue is the same for every page on your store. The snippet that defines your breadcrumbs is faulty and is used throughout your website.

You can check every URL individually to see more details about the defective code:

breadcrumbs faulty code

In my client’s case, it does appear like the position field is completely missing from this mark-up. According to Google, a good BreadcrumbList element should look like this:

<html>
  <head>
    <title>Award Winners</title>
    <script type="application/ld+json">
    {
      "@context": "https://schema.org",
      "@type": "BreadcrumbList",
      "itemListElement": [{
        "@type": "ListItem",
        "position": 1,
        "name": "Books",
        "item": "https://example.com/books"
      },{
        "@type": "ListItem",
        "position": 2,
        "name": "Science Fiction",
        "item": "https://example.com/books/sciencefiction"
      },{
        "@type": "ListItem",
        "position": 3,
        "name": "Award Winners"
      }]
    }
    </script>
  </head>
  <body>
  </body>
</html>

So how do you fix this in Shopify?

You will have to head over to your Shopify Admin, and under Online Store > Themes, click the Action button and “Edit code”. Determine what type of page has an issue (is it a collection or a product—maybe both?) and open either your product-template.liquid or collection-template.liquid file.

If you have enabled breadcrumbs in your theme, you should find a mark-up element very similar to the one recommended by Google:

breadcrumbs markup no position

As you can see, and without surprise, Google was right. The position field is not in this mark-up.

I don’t know if this happened because of a theme update, a third party app, or if my client messed with his own store’s code. Either way, you can simply add back the position fields:

breadcrumbs markup with position

Remember that those breadcrumbs are dynamic, depending on the amount of tags the user goes through:

Position 1) is the shop’s name (for example, MyShop);
Position 2) is the title’s collection (for example, Men’s Wear);
Position 3) are all the tags your user goes through to find specifics (for example, Shirts and Yellow).

Resulting in a breadcrumb that looks like this: MyShop > Men's Wear > Shirts > Yellow.

In most cases, this issue arises when the mark-up is incomplete, or a third party app tampers with it.

For my client, theme updates were sometimes responsible for the issue. So now, I just make sure to double-check the code every time the developer pushes out a new update.

When you are done resolving the problem, don’t forget to mark it as “fixed” in the Google Search Console so Google can start crawling your website again:

validate fix gsc

I hope this post helped you with the Breadcrumbs Issue.

If not, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an e-mail at nathan@taptimize.com and I’ll do my best to look into the problem with you!

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