Have you ever visited a website and instantly exited because it was too complex to navigate?
Almost every website owner takes excellent care of what type of content is published on their website, but very few understand the importance of easy website navigation for enhanced user experience.
To enhance the user experience of your website visitors, you implement breadcrumb navigation on your web page.
The term breadcrumbs has been taken from the kid’s story “Hansel and Gretel,” where the kids drop pieces of breadcrumbs to navigate their way back home.
In the world of SEO, breadcrumbs also serve a similar purpose.
Breadcrumbs is an essential part of every good website. A breadcrumb trail helps your website visitors understand where they are on the website and assists search engines in understanding the structure of your website.
What are Breadcrumbs?
Breadcrumbs are the navigation features on a website that help users and search engines understand the structure of your website and the hierarchy of the web pages.
Breadcrumbs appear on the top of a web page and show users the current location with a page.
Each part of a breadcrumb is typically a clickable link that leads to the corresponding category.
Enabling breadcrumb navigation enhances user experience and the crawlability of your website by search engines.
Having a well-structured webpage is very crucial for search engine optimization. Therefore, breadcrumbs are a very important part of your SEO tactic to improve the Google search results of your website.
Example of a breadcrumb trail:
HOME> PRODUCTS> ELECTRONICS> SMARTPHONES> IPHONE 15 MAX PRO
Different types of breadcrumbs
There are three different types of breadcrumbs.
1. Hierarchy based breadcrumbs:
Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs follow the website’s hierarchy. This breadcrumb trail is also known as location-based breadcrumb.
Hierarchy-based or location based breadcrumb navigation shows users the location of the current page within the website’s hierarchy.
They provide a clear path from the home page to the current page, helping users navigate and understand where they are on the site.
For example: Home> products> electronics> smartphones> Apple> iPhone 15 Max Pro
In the above example, the trail starts with the top level of the category and then proceeds to subcategories. This breadcrumb path follows the website hierarchy and provides a more detailed and user-friendly website navigation.
2. Attribute based breadcrumbs:
Attribute based breadcrumbs are a dynamic user navigational aid. They have different filters that may benefit the user. Attribute based breadcrumbs are primarily used in ecommerce sites with various products under the same category.
This breadcrumb trail is paired with hierarchy-based breadcrumbs to help users navigate different filters.
For example, Home page> Cleaning Supplies> Floor cleaners> Alcohol-free/ top-rated/cruelty-free.
3. Path-based breadcrumbs:
Path based breadcrumbs navigate the unique path users have taken to arrive at a particular page. This can be helpful for users who want to retrace their path. It is often used in websites with a complex navigational path. This breadcrumb navigation type is implemented as a back button that helps users return to the previous page.
Path based breadcrumbs are also known as history based breadcrumbs because it shows the user the previous pages that they have visited on a website. These breadcrumbs are useful for large websites with heavy content.
It is important to note that history based breadcrumbs may not be beneficial for sites that have single-layer content without a wide range of categories.
For example, Home> product> filter by brands> Apple>Smartphones> iPhone 15 max pro
Advantages of using breadcrumbs
Website breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation scheme that helps website users understand their current location on a web page. It has multiple benefits, including improved user experience and Google search results.
1. Improves user experience
Breadcrumbs improves the user experience by reducing the steps the user needs to take to get back to the parent pages of a website. When you have a multi-level website, enabling the website breadcrumbs helps visitors navigate higher-level categories more easily.
For example, you have a website that sells women’s clothing. Now, everyone knows that there are various categories and subcategories in women’s clothing. Starting from top-wear to bottom-wear to sleeves, color, materials, etc.
All this may be difficult for a website visitor to navigate without the help of breadcrumbs. Therefore, this feature is an indispensable part of websites with multiple levels. It provides a straightforward way for users to understand the structure of the website and their current location.
A website without the breadcrumb feature appears to be clumsy and confusing. In such websites, you must click multiple buttons to return to where you started.
2. Reduces bounce rate
Would you like to be on a website that doesn’t have a well-structured design with logical categories?
When users can navigate through the website quickly and find relevant content easily, they trust it. This encourages the users to browse deeper into the website.
This is why breadcrumbs are beneficial. Breadcrumb trails structure the web pages into a logical hierarchy, helping site visitors navigate better. This builds a sense of trust among them for the page.
Users are less likely to leave the site immediately if the page is structured properly with breadcrumb trails.
This, in turn, reduces the bounce rate and enhances your website’s reputation.
3. SEO benefits
breadcrumb trail displays the hierarchy of a web page. This helps search engines index the page and improve the overall SEO ranking.
Like internal linking, breadcrumbs help navigate the user’s current location on the web page and enable them to find the information they seek. This also helps search engines crawl through the website and help it rank.
Breadcrumbs are as important as internal links for a website and an essential part of its SEO strategy.
How to add breadcrumbs
Since WordPress is the most common CMS, this article will discuss how to add breadcrumbs to your WordPress site using the Yoast SEO plugin.
1. Enable the breadcrumb feature on Yoast SEO:
Firstly, you need to enable the breadcrumb feature on Yoast SEO. To do this, go to your WordPress dashboard, click on SEO, and then search appearance.
2. Configure breadcrumbs:
In the search appearance, click on the “breadcrumbs” tab. You can configure the breadcrumbs settings by including separator characters and other options. Ensure that you have enabled the breadcrumb feature in this step.
3. Save the changes
After configuring the breadcrumb settings, don’t forget to save the changes.
The Yoast SEO plugin automatically adds breadcrumbs to your website based on the page hierarchy. You can also customize the templates and styles to match your site structure by modifying the plugin’s settings.
Why Should You Use Breadcrumbs on Your Website?
Every website owner must use breadcrumb navigation because it shows the user’s location on a webpage and provides a clear visual of its hierarchy and orientation.
Using breadcrumbs can help your site visitors understand the overall structure of your website.
Moreover, it also helps users understand where they want to spend their maximum time on a website.
Therefore, breadcrumbs are an indispensable part of a website’s SEO strategy because it helps to easily navigate through the content of the page.
When Should You NOT Use Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are a fantastic way to organize your website. However, it may not have the same benefits for everyone.
A Breadcrumb Trail is useful for websites with complex site architecture. The sites that have multiple categories and subcategories benefit the most from breadcrumbs.
For instance, breadcrumbs will benefit e-commerce sites with many products, sub-products, and categories.
However, if you have a simple website and single-level content, it is best to avoid breadcrumbs. In such scenarios, implementing breadcrumbs will create unnecessary confusion among your users.
Breadcrumbs Best Practices
Here are some best practices that every website owner must follow while implementing breadcrumbs to maximize its benefits.
1. Keep it simple and clear:
Breadcrumbs should be straightforward and easy to understand. Use clear and concise labels for each link in the breadcrumb trail. Moreover, avoid using long or complex labels that will make the breadcrumb navigation confusing
2. Position breadcrumbs strategically:
Usually, breadcrumbs are placed on the top left of a web page. There is a specific reason for this placement. When breadcrumbs are placed on the top near the primary navigation menu or below the page titles, website visitors can locate the feature without hassle. This, in turn, enhances user experience.
3. Always Link back to the home page:
Include a home link at the beginning of your breadcrumb navigation so all users can go back from the current page to the home page easily.
4. Make the breadcrumb links clickable:
To simplify the breadcrumb navigation, you should always use clickable links to your breadcrumbs, except the last one. This will ensure that users can go from one page to another easily.
5. Regularly Update your breadcrumbs:
Only adding breadcrumbs is not enough. You must also update it regularly as your site’s structure changes. Broken or inaccurate breadcrumbs can confuse users and negatively impact your SEO.
Breadcrumbs are a powerful tool that can significantly benefit your SEO efforts. Applying breadcrumb trails can immensely benefit your website and improve its ranking on search results.
Moreover, breadcrumbs aid website navigation and enhance visitors’ user experience. It displays the site’s hierarchy to the visitors, making navigation more efficient.
This also reduces the bounce rate as the visitor can find relevant content and pages easily, improving user engagement.
Among the numerous benefits of using breadcrumbs, improved ranking and user experience are the most vital.
Moreover, the flexibility of using breadcrumbs and customization based on the website’s unique needs, whether it is a simple location-based trail or a more complex attribute-based trail, has been made easy with this tool.
Incorporating breadcrumbs makes the navigation path of the website easy to understand. Therefore, it is an indispensable part of every website with a complex content structure and multiple pages,
Hence, every website owner must make the most out of this tool for the SEO benefits and improved user experience.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are breadcrumbs on a website?
Breadcrumbs are a navigation feature on a website that helps users understand their current location within a website hierarchy.
They display links, allowing users to track their steps from the homepage to the current location.
Each breadcrumb trail is normally a clickable link, and clicking those links allows users to easily navigate to higher levels of categories or parent pages.
These features are particularly helpful for pages with complex structures with a lot of content.
Breadcrumbs overall improve the user experience of the website visitors and are an indispensable part of every SEO strategy.
Where should the breadcrumbs be on a website?
While placing breadcrumb trails on a website, the visitors’ user experience should be kept in mind.
In most websites, they are typically displayed near the top of the webpage, just below the primary navigation menu.
In some websites, they are also placed above the main content area of a webpage. This position makes them easily visible to the users. Moreover, they are mostly left-aligned or centered, depending on the website’s design.
No matter where the breadcrumbs are placed, owners should always maintain a consistent placement for every page and keep in mind the user experience.
Do people use breadcrumb navigation?
Yes, people use breadcrumbs for their several benefits.
It enhances user experience: Breadcrumbs provide users with a clear path to follow within a website. This makes navigation more efficient and easy to understand. They can also easily backtrack or move to related pages with the help of this tool.
It reduces the bounce rate: Users who can easily find their way to relevant content and pages are less likely to leave the website easily. Breadcrumbs encourage users to explore the page and reduce the bounce rate.
It improves SEO: Breadcrumbs help search engines understand a website’s structure better, making the indexing process easy. This improves the ranking and overall authority of the website.