SEO Glossary / Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumb Navigation

What is Breadcrumb Navigation?

Breadcrumb navigation refers to the trail of internal links—known as “breadcrumbs”—that inform the user of their current location on a website within the site’s hierarchy of pages. The term “breadcrumb” is inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel from the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, where they left a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way back home.

Types of Breadcrumb Navigation

  1. Hierarchy-Based Breadcrumbs: Also known as location-based breadcrumbs, they show the user’s position within the website’s hierarchy.
  2. Attribute-Based Breadcrumbs: Organized based on attributes or tags, commonly used on e-commerce websites.
  3. History-Based Breadcrumbs: Arranged based on the specific steps the visitor took to arrive at the current page.

Importance of Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumb navigation is important because it enhances the user experience and makes websites easier to navigate. It provides secondary navigation, helping visitors find what they are looking for and reducing the number of clicks required to return to higher-level pages. It also improves mobile usability and plays a crucial role in SEO.

SEO Benefits

  1. User Experience: Google rewards websites that prioritize user experience. Breadcrumbs make navigation easier, which can improve user satisfaction.
  2. Website Hierarchy Understanding: Breadcrumbs help Google understand your website’s structure and distribute PageRank more effectively, potentially improving your rankings.
  3. Lower Bounce Rates: By providing users with an alternative means of navigation, breadcrumbs can reduce bounce rates by encouraging exploration of more content on the site.

How to Implement Breadcrumb Navigation

Implementing breadcrumb navigation is straightforward. If you have a WordPress website, plugins like Yoast SEO simplify the process. Some WordPress themes may even support breadcrumbs by default. For non-WordPress sites, you can implement breadcrumbs manually using HTML and CSS.

HTML Template Example

<ul class="breadcrumb">
    <li><a href="#">Home</a></li>
    <li><a href="#">Blog</a></li>
    <li><a href="#">Category</a></li>
    <li>Current Page</li>

This template generates a bulleted list of links. Customize the style with CSS to fit your design needs.

Structured Data

To ensure breadcrumbs appear in SERPs, implement relevant structured data on your website. Refer to Google's Breadcrumb Documentation for detailed guidance.

  1. Support Primary Navigation: Breadcrumbs are an additional navigation feature, not a replacement for your primary navigation menu.
  2. Use Separators: Separate text links in the breadcrumb trail with special characters, such as “>”, “/”, or arrows.
  3. Full Navigational Path: Always include the full navigational path, regardless of how the user arrived at the page.
  4. Left to Right Reading: The breadcrumb trail should read from left to right, with the homepage on the left and the current page on the right.
  5. Current Page: The last item in the breadcrumb trail should be the current page and should not be a clickable link.
  6. Unobtrusive Design: Ensure that the breadcrumb navigation is simple and unobtrusive, positioned at the top of the page, and uses a small but readable font.

For more insights and tips on web navigation and SEO, visit the Ranktracker Blog and explore our comprehensive SEO Guide. Additionally, check out our SEO Glossary to familiarize yourself with key SEO terms and concepts.