Breadcrumbs are links that allow a user to track their path from the page they are currently viewing to the home page of your website. They appear close to the top of your page and reflect the structure of your site.
Properly used site breadcrumbs can add context to the innermost of your pages and reduce several negative factors that improve the user experience on your site.
Types of Bread Crumbs
Breadcrumbs are generally classified into three main types. Let us discuss them with breadcrumb navigation examples.
- Location Breadcrumbs
These are the most common types of breadcrumbs on web today. They tell the position of a page within site hierarchy. Using these bread crumbs, a user can visit a page that plays host to similar pages.
- Path Breadcrumbs
As the name suggests, these bread crumbs show the path the user has taken to a webpage. The same content on the website can be accessed using various logical paths and these are shown by path crumbs.
- Attribute or Keyword Breadcrumbs
These are similar to location bread crumbs. The only difference is that instead of page title, they use a keyword or other attribute to represent the page. Attribute bread crumbs are commonly used on e-commerce sites.
Tip: It’s always better to use location breadcrumbs on your site, because the other two types can cause duplication of the bread crumbs, which can have a negative effect on your site.
How Breadcrumbs Affect Usability
Bread crumbs are very helpful to the users. They help the users to not only trace their path, but also to visit similar pages and dig deeper into the site. This helps minimize negative factors such as bounce rates of your site, resulting in positive optimization.
Below is a list of ways in which bread crumbs may be advantageous to your users:
- They help users understand the layout of your site
Users can easily navigate one higher level and access similar pages of interest, while still staying on your site.
- They don’t overwhelm the user
Due to the fact that they are optional, bread crumbs won’t overwhelm those who don’t want to use them.
- They enable users to scan through your site
This helps the users to view various pages at a faster rate.
- They are easy to understand and follow
Regardless of their level of knowledge every user can easily understand and implement the bread crumbs on a site.
How Breadcrumbs Affect SEO
Breadcrumbs are equally beneficial to the search engines as they are to users. They provide logical access to all the inner and outer pages of your site, a practice highly favored by search engines.
Below is a list of ways in which breadcrumbs affect the SEO of your site:
- They point keywords to certain pages
This helps the search engines understand how different pages are inter-related.
- They improve the internal linking structure of your site
Breadcrumbs can provide additional benefits if paired with contextual linking to their related pages.
- Schemas can be used to describe breadcrumbs
This makes search engine bots to understand that they are looking at a breadcrumb. Thus, the breadcrumb has chances of appearing in the SERPs to facilitate users more.
How to Optimize Breadcrumbs for SEO
Here are some best practices you can implement to optimize your breadcrumbs for SEO:
- Use breadcrumbs only when they help users; SEO is an additional benefit.
- Use bread crumbs at the top of your webpage.
- If you use them on one page, use them across the website.
- Start from your Home page, and degrade step-by-step to the current page.
- Don’t link to the current page.
- Stylize them to make them appealing, but not the center of attraction.
- Your breadcrumbs are your secondary navigation. They should never replace the primary navigation.
- Include full navigation path in your bread crumbs. Skipping a level can confuse users.
- Do not use the breadcrumb in your page title.
Breadcrumbs are a very useful tool for enriched user experience, especially when your site has a complex hierarchy that deters users from digging deeper. They also help the search engines to understand the internal structure of your site, casting an overall positive impact on the SEO of your website. With the numerous benefits they come with, there is no point in not using them.