Breadcrumb Navigation for SEO

Breadcrumb Navigation for SEO

6 min read

If you don’t know what breadcrumb navigation is, or how correctly structured breadcrumbs can bring a wealth of benefits to your App or website, it’s time to find out! Here we provide you with the ultimate guide to breadcrumbs. Discover what breadcrumbs are and the various types of breadcrumbs you can utilize. We also discuss the advantages of using breadcrumbs, best practices in breadcrumb navigation, when you should use breadcrumbs, and, importantly, when you shouldn’t.A. Breadcrumb


What are breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs are the small pieces of text that act as a navigation aid to enable users of a website or an app to chart which pages they’ve visited, in what order, to arrive at their current destination. An example of a breadcrumb might be: You are in: Women’s Clothing>Tops & Blouses>Short-sleeved Tops. It allows a user to see where they are within a site, as well as provides clear information on how they can get back to where they were.Breadcrumbs apparently got their name from the breadcrumbs that Hansel and Gretel scattered in order to find their way home when they went into the woods.Breadcrumbs don’t just appear on your site, they also appear in Google listings.


Types of Breadcrumbs

There are three types of breadcrumbs: attribute-based, hierarchy-based, and history-based.



Attribute-based breadcrumbs show the way that a search has been narrowed in order to focus on a particular subset of the whole. An example of an attribute-based breadcrumb might be: Ladies Pajamas>Size 10-12>Long-sleeved>100% Cotton>Blue. Each step of the breadcrumb has narrowed the search further until the results of the search will be the items that match each attribute.Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs tend to be commonly seen on websites.

They show progress from the Home (or Landing) Page to the current location. An example might be Home>Services>Drains>Blocked Drains.History-based breadcrumbs are based purely on your progress through an App or website, no matter how random that might be. It enables you to accurately retrace your steps and shows your progress, but may not form a coherent history. For example Ladies Pajamas>Women’s Clothing>Coats &Jackets>Home>Boys’ Clothing. B. Breadcrumb Benefits Google values breadcrumbs The more the Google Search Engine algorithms can discover about your site, the more likely they are to return it high in search results. Not only do breadcrumbs provide Google with the sort of information it values, but Google also displays the breadcrumbs in search results.

These provide an excellent lure to customers, encouraging them to click on your site rather than the competition.Breadcrumbs make for a better user experience Particularly on larger sites, users like to be able to navigate effortlessly and back-track to other pages they’ve found of interest without having to start their browsing from the home page again. Breadcrumbs provide clear signage of previous travels on the site, enabling users to quickly and easily back-track. This means they’re more likely to stay on your page, rather than going elsewhere.Breadcrumbs bring SEO advantagesAs already indicated, Google likes breadcrumbs. In addition, many people will tend to type something that bears a strong resemblance to a breadcrumb into the search bar when they’re looking for a specific item. “Boys’ Black School Shoes, Size 7, Lace-up” or “Stripey Red Carpet 2′ x 3′ Easy Clean”, for example.

If your breadcrumbs match some or all of the descriptors on the search, you’re going to return high on the page.More Browsing, less bounce Users like browsing to be as easy and straightforward as possible. Breadcrumbs make navigation simple, fast, and accurate, which is exactly what users are looking for. As a result, a site that has an efficient system in place for creating breadcrumbs is going to give a better user experience than one which hasn’t. If you want more browsing from your users, and less going elsewhere (aka bounce), it’s time to make sure you’ve got breadcrumbs in place.C. How to Create Great Breadcrumb Navigation There are a number of different tactics you can utilize to ensure that your breadcrumb navigation is as good as it possibly can be. Consider the following when putting your breadcrumbs in place.

Separators The value of “>” cannot be overestimated! Using “>” to show the relationship between the main page and subsidiary pages (Home>Services>Drains>Blocked Drains, for example), clearly shows the relationship between main (higher) pages and subsidiary (lower) pages. The “greater than (>)” sign makes the relationship transparent and easy to follow.Use as Additional Navigation Just because you’ve decided to use breadcrumbs, that doesn’t mean the rest of the navigational aids on your site are worthless. Used alongside navigational assistance such as hyperlinks, image maps, site maps, a table of contents, a navigation bar, and site indices, for example, breadcrumbs further assist users to smoothly navigate where they wish. The more assistance users have in navigating, the more attractive your site becomes to them.

No Current Page Linking If users are on the current page, providing a clickable link that they might accidentally press, thereby reloading the page, is just going to cause frustration and confusion. Although it’s possible to program breadcrumbs so that the current page is clickable, we don’t recommend it unless you have a particular reason for doing so.Consider Padding and Size The size and prominence of breadcrumbs need consideration but will vary depending on your website or App. Obviously, breadcrumbs need to be large enough to be easily utilized and clear enough to be found by users who want to take advantage of them. Equally, they shouldn’t dominate the page to the exclusion of other, primary navigational aids.D. When Should you use, or not use, Breadcrumbs?From the user’s perspective, breadcrumbs are all about gains and very rarely about losses. At worse, a user won’t pay any attention to the breadcrumbs, preferring to rely on other methods of navigating your site. At best, a user will find your breadcrumbs of benefit and you will end up with a sale where previously you might have ended up with an abandoned trolley or similar unsatisfactory result.Occasionally, a user may reach the item they’re looking for using a random search pattern. In this instance, the breadcrumb is fairly meaningless to them, as they happened to find what they were looking for almost by chance.

The value of breadcrumbs to a site owner or operator is somewhat more nuanced. Anything that enhances the user experience is great, but breadcrumbs require a considerable amount of effort to put in place. For some site owners, the amount of time required to breadcrumb satisfactorily isn’t offset by any marginal benefits they might gain from improved SEO and/or user retention. Remember that breadcrumbing is just one of many forms of navigation that can be put in place. For some site owners, breadcrumbs just aren’t worth the hassle, even if they do result in some marginal benefits.Breadcrumbs may not always generate any improvement in the SEO experience. They’re also not suitable for all types of sites. Some sites have a large number of product categories that aren’t hierarchical. This can mean the breadcrumb isn’t particularly useful. That said, there are various strategies (such as using the most popular path to a particular product as the default breadcrumb) that can ensure breadcrumbs still hold value.So, to Crumb or not to Crumb?Used correctly, breadcrumbs are handy pieces of coding that can make a positive impact on site traffic and conversion.

They can also improve SEO relevance, strengthening a site’s position on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and increasing its visibility to the target audience.That said, all these benefits are usually fairly marginal in comparison with other navigational options that are commonly used. In some ways, breadcrumbs are a “belt ‘n’ braces” approach to navigation that may, or may not, justify the amount of extra time it takes to put them in place.

If you’re not confident of your own ability to add breadcrumbs (or just have other priorities that mean you haven’t time to sit down and get the job done), why not let Sarkar SEO do the job for you?With years of experience in a wide range of SEO techniques and processes, Sarkar SEO is ideally placed to assist with all your breadcrumb (and other navigational aid) requirements. Providing a range of elite SEO services that are suitable for businesses of all shapes, sizes, and types, Sarkar SEO offers proven methods of increasing awareness of your site, improving traffic, enhancing conversions, and building brand loyalty.By obtaining a clear picture of your site, including its strengths and weaknesses, through the use of in-depth analytics, the team at Sarkar SEO can create customized solutions that deliver measurable benefits in less time than you might imagine.Contact the team at Sarkar to find out more about breadcrumbing, or to discuss your SEO requirements in more detail.


Sarkar SEO
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Mohit Parnami aka Sarkar is an entrepreneur, marketer and Co-Founder of SarkarSEO. He is passionate about SEO and lifelong learner to learn new things. He has been in the internet marketing industry for 10+ years.