So you keep hearing the words breadcrumbs and website together, but what does that even mean? We are going to explain breadcrumb navigation on a website and share three benefits of breadcrumbs for SEO.
Read on to learn what breadcrumbs are, how they work, and why they matter for search engine optimization.
What Are Breadcrumbs on a Website?
Website breadcrumbs are a small text path that shows where a user is on a site. They are trails of where a user has gone on your site. They are shown in search results and often look something like this: Home > Blog > Category > Post. Here is an example of breadcrumbs on a search engine results page (SERP).
Breadcrumbs on a website are dual purpose. They inform users where they are on a site and how to get back to specific pages. More importantly, breadcrumbs help Google understand a site structure, or site hierarchy, and how to crawl a site.
Think of them as the path users follow to get to a certain page. Breadcrumbs lead them there, just as Hansel and Gretel dropped breadcrumbs to not get lost on their journey.
Now that you have a better understanding of what breadcrumbs are, let’s look into the most common types.
Types of Website Breadcrumbs
There are several types of breadcrumbs for navigation that are commonly used on websites, including:
Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs are perhaps the most common. They tell users where they are specifically in a website’s site structure. They show how many steps away from the homepage a user took to get to the page they’re currently viewing.
An example of hierarchy-based breadcrumbs would be Home > Blog > Category > Post Name.
Target shows you how you landed on this headphones deals page through breadcrumbs at the top of the page. This is an example of breadcrumbs on Target.
Target (home page) / Electronics / All Deals: Headphones
Attribute-based breadcrumbs are usually found on e-commerce websites and the trail is made up of product attributes. For example, it might look like this Home > Product Category > Gender > Size > Color.
Here is an example from a page on Staples.com. The breadcrumb trail here is Home > Printers & Scanners > Scanners & Scanner Accessories > Scanners. And then there are filters such as brand, type, and use that were set.
History-based breadcrumbs on a website are exactly what they sound like they would be. They follow the history of where a user has gone on a site.
Here is a history-based breadcrumb trail on Columbia Sportswear. Notice how it says Home > Womens > Jackets > Ski & Snowboard. This is the path I’ve taken to get to ski & snowboard jackets on this site.
Next, we will discuss why breadcrumbs are beneficial for a website’s SEO.
3 Breadcrumbs SEO Benefits
There are a few breadcrumbs SEO benefits you should be aware of. We encourage all webmasters to use breadcrumbs and add them to their structured data; here’s why.
1. Improve User Experience
The first SEO benefit of breadcrumbs is that they improve the user experience. Breadcrumbs make navigation easier for users on a website. Users can navigate back to certain pages using the trail of breadcrumbs. They keep everything organized and easy to get back to for visitors.
2. Lower Bounce Rates
The second breadcrumb SEO benefit goes hand-in-hand with the first. Breadcrumbs on websites are proven to decrease bounce rates. This is because users can navigate backwards to find exactly what they are searching for on a site.
Let’s say a user is looking for red sneakers on an e-commerce website, so they go Home > Mens > Sneakers > Size 10 > Red. But after looking through the results, they decide they actually want orange sneakers. All they have to do is go back one step and change to orange instead of going to a different website to look for orange sneakers. Breadcrumbs help keep users on a website for longer.
3. Improve Search Rankings
The best breadcrumbs SEO benefit is that they can improve your search rankings on Google. Google uses breadcrumbs to categorize and contextualize content in search results. This form of structured data helps bots crawl and index pages more efficiently to understand how they match search intent.
Start Using Breadcrumbs for SEO
These SEO benefits of breadcrumbs should be enough to convince you they are important. Breadcrumbs are the best way to help both users and Google navigate a website without getting lost. It gives them an understanding of a site’s structure and keeps them on the page longer. It’s a win-win!