Before we understand why breadcrumbs are important with respect to SEO, let’s first understand breadcrumbs.
What Are Breadcrumbs?
Basically, breadcrumbs are website links that let visitors know where they are on a specific website and how near or far they are from the website’s homepage. You can easily find them just below the navigation bar or at the top of a website. Similar to internal links, breadcrumbs help users to stay on a website, navigate through various sections, and assist them in getting the information they are looking for.
While breadcrumbs make backtracking to previous pages easier, they make site navigation more convenient than making them an important UX feature. And, thanks to 2018 Google updates, breadcrumbs are even more important now as they can affect SEO directly. Wondering, how? Well, let us tell you that Google now shows breadcrumbs in its search results and makes use of them to classify the information it displays in the results.
Three Types of Breadcrumbs
There are three main types of breadcrumbs, each of which serves a unique purpose. This means you need to find the best one for your website before adding them to it.
1. Location (Hierarchy)-Based Breadcrumbs:
This is the most common type and tells website visitors, where exactly they are on a website at a particular moment and how to easily get back to the website’s homepage.
Example: Home > Useful Resources > SEO Tips
2. Attribute-Based Breadcrumbs:
Mostly used in eCommerce websites, it displays the attributes that a visitor clicks.
Example: Home > Footwear > Sports > Men
3. History-Based Breadcrumbs:
Similar to browsing history, this type of breadcrumbs show users the other pages they visit on a website.
Example: Home > XYZ 1 > XYZ 2 > Current Page
The breadcrumbs will appear as above if you have searched on the “XYZ” topic and read three articles on the same topic.
Now that you know about the three types of breadcrumbs, you must be thinking what do they do, and are they worth considering? Keeping reading to see how breadcrumbs help with SEO and beyond.
Top Three Benefits of Using Breadcrumbs
Here are three main benefits of using breadcrumbs on websites:
1. Improve UX:
While helping a visitor to easily navigate around a website, it indirectly motivates them to browse through other sections of the website. For example, if you want to learn about the “ABC” brand and its origin, you will open their official website and from the homepage, you may reach their “Brand History” page after a few hops. But, from there, you can easily go back to the last page, 2nd last past page, or even the homepage without much difficulty by following the breadcrumbs backward.
Breadcrumbs are a great way to help users easily discover what they are seeking. Besides, they also influence visitors to explore the website in depth.
2. Boost Website Rank:
Apart from being a great UX enhancer, they make Google happy too. And, if SEO is what you are targeting, you can’t afford to miss out on them. Google uses breadcrumbs to contextualize and categorize the content. The search giant added breadcrumbs to its results pages in 2018 and that had made breadcrumbs even more important than ever before.
Moreover, in SERPs, breadcrumbs allow searchers to understand where the displayed page exists on a website and this substantially helps with SEO. Breadcrumbs are particularly important for websites containing location-specific pages, such as a law firm or a multi-chain restaurant. A recent study suggests that how breadcrumbs help businesses secure positions in the top ten search results.
3. Keep Visitors Onsite for a Longer Duration:
While the bounce rate is not a direct search engine ranking factor, it may affect your SEO to some extent. Also, a higher bounce rate of your website can be due to a UX-related issue, which you can overcome using breadcrumbs.
Suppose, you are searching for a brand new pair of formal shoes on an online apparel store. You may find one, but it might not exactly be what you were looking for – maybe because you are not comfortable wearing anything made out of snake leather. In such a situation, using the website’s breadcrumbs, you can effortlessly move back to the “boots” section to find another pair.
This is great as breadcrumbs are likely to prevent a prospect to turn back to Google to search for the same pair of boots on some other website.
Three Common Breadcrumb Implementation Mistakes to Avoid
Implementing breadcrumbs on a website is straightforward. But at times, a wrong move can backfire. Here are three common mistakes to avoid while implementing breadcrumbs.
1. Going Too Small or Big:
Breadcrumbs should be visible but in a somewhat unnoticeable manner. A moderately small font is good, but keeping the text too small will be tough to see and click, particularly on mobile devices. They should be placed at the top of the webpage – either above the H1 title tag or below the hero header, so that they can be found easily.
2. Repeating the Navigation Bar:
Repeating the breadcrumbs that are already present in your navigation bar will not provide any extra benefit. That is to say, it is completely worthless to utilize extra space and coding if you don’t find any real advantage of doing so.
3. Ignoring Navigation to Give Extra Value to Breadcrumbs:
Not repeating navigation is good, but banking solely on breadcrumbs is not great! Remember that breadcrumbs are just a supplement and are not a replacement for any other navigational element.
Location-based breadcrumbs are the most common ones, but it may not the best match for your website, especially if it doesn’t have a nested framework, in which several pages can be classified under a handful of categories. In such a case, history-based breadcrumbs are your best bet.
Integrating breadcrumbs is a fairly simple process that can enable your website to stand out from the rest. While they don’t guarantee any remarkable SEO boost, they are always equally helpful to search engines and website visitors.
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