What is Breadcrumb Navigation? Why is it important for SEO?

The AnalyticaHouse Blog answers your questions on what is breadcrumb navigation, what are its types and how does it relate to SEO performance!

Burcu Aydoğdu
SEO Team - 02 March, 2022 - 6 min read
What is Breadcrumb Navigation? Why is it important for SEO?

Breadcrumb is a secondary guidance menu that allows easy navigation within a page, taking place horizontally under the top menu and allowing users to shift between previously visited pages with ease. This navigation menu shows us the path users take to find the targeted page and how it is classified within the site. The most basic way that the breadcrumb navigation is formed is as it is shown below:

Home page > Segment Page > Subsegment Page

This secondary guidance menu allows users to easily discover the content within the site and allow on site link building.

What are the different types of Breadcrumb? 

There are 3 different types of breadcrumbs that contribute to both new user acquisition (SEO performance and user experience) and conversion.

  1. Location and Hierarchy Based
  2. Direction Based
  3. Attribute Based

According to the user's on-site journey, web architecture and the variety of services/products the most suitable breadcrumb navigation type can be preferred.

Location or Hierarchy Based Breadcrumb

This specific type is referred to as the Hierarchy or Location Based Breadcrumb due to it being the most common option for complex and deep sites. This type of content mapping is the simplest and most common structure of all. Hierarchy based breadcrumb follows the architecture and hierarchy of the website and eases the user's journey of reaching to the related content.

As it can be seen through the example above, it allows for users who visit a product page in an e-commerce site to continue on their experience by visiting the segment page; once they cannot find what they are looking for, or simply change their minds.

Direction Based Breadcrumb

This is the least common navigation type of all. They are almost identical to the function of back buttons in browsers and provide ease in returning to the previous page. Due to the nature of content mapping, they reflect the path to the targeted page, but the path is not entirely visible as it would be with hierarchy based breadcrumbs.

yon-odakli-breadcrumb

Through this method, users are able to go back to the previous page with the "Back to Result" button without losing any of their previous selections or restarting the journey. This type allows going back to the previous step of the users by making their preferred selections hidden.

Attribute Based Breadcrumb

This type shows the selections that are chosen by the users in the related page. They show the filters in order to lead users to their desired results and product attributes.

oznitelik-odakli-breadcrumb

This Breadcrumb navigation generally benefits e-commerce sites where one product relays under more than one category. As it is shown on the example above, the filter choices that were made in a category page is reflected through a type of breadcrumb navigation.

Why is Breadcrumb Navigation Important for SEO?

  • Improves User Experience

Most users who experience a poor user journey do not return to a website with a difficult navigation. Content mapping fundamentally aims an easy user journey by showing users exactly where they are on the website. It also provides a user based contribution into aiding users to move backwards or forwards in accordance with their selections.

  • Increases Page Views and Decreases Bounce Rate

The implementation of Breadcrumbs shifts the time that is spent on the website into an effective and efficient user experience. It contributes into further navigation within the website, considering the users' tendency to bounce off from a page once they cannot directly reach their desired outcomes. Thanks to content mapping, users are able to experience a journey in which they can be much faster, productive and time efficient.

  • Contributes into the Intelligibility of the Site Architecture through Search Engine Bots

Breadcrumbs provide an outlook on the site architecture and hierarchy through SERP. This can be seen as a preview of the reliable journey that users are convinced to be on and how the site visits will be concluded. This is an extra way to illuminate search engines on what the pages are really about.

  • Increases Impressions in Search Results and Increases CTR Rates

As content mapping allows an easier interpretation of the content within the website and a more efficient indexing performance through SERP, it concurrently contributes higher impressions for site links.

breadcrumb-navigasyonu-seo-icin-neden-onemlidir

  • Increases Crawlability

As search engine bots scan site links, breadcrumbs generate internal connections within the site's pages and increases the pages' overall crawlability.

  • Improves Indexing Performance

Since our websites will ultimately have targeted keywords, the anchot texts that are used in content maps serve as keywords within the navigation. This allows us to increase the density of keywords within the pages.

How to use Breadcrumb Navigation

A content map is a horizontal menu that shows the pathway between the home page and the last page there is to reach. If the site depth is above 2, this navigation will increase the efficiency on your website. After deciding to use breadcrumbs, the first thing to do is to decide which type of breadcrumb would serve the best for your website. Suggestions regarding the use of content maps can be found below;

  1. Home page is the starting point. In the attribution based breadcrumb type, the home page does not mostly take place in the navigation bars. This type of usage needs assurance that users will be able to return to the home page without having any problems.
  2. Separators must be used. Thanks to separators, the steps going to the targeted page are differentiated. The ">" symbol is mostly used as a separator.

breadcrumb-navigasyonu-nasil-kullanilmalidir

  1. They must be placed on the furthest top of the page. Since it is placed on the upper most side of the pages as a secondary guidance menu and contributes to on site link building, it allows an easier detection of links for both users and for search engine bots.
  2. Making the targeted page or the page in question boldfaced increases the awareness.
  3. The rest of the website should have the most optimum and consistent design in terms of visibility (background, contrast rates etc.).
  4. Linking the last step, which is the targeted page itself, is not recommended. Reaching the last step of the navigation but still being linked to another page will cause an irrelevant build to the architecture.
  5. Since the home page is the beginning point of the navigation, breadcrumbs should not be used on the home page.
  6. Page titles should be used in content mapping. This is beneficial for showing the users which pages they will end up reaching and signaling anchor texts to search engine bots. 
  7. The page URL should project the breadcrumb navigation. The consistency between the breadcrumb and URL allows us to build a more understandable structure.

https://developers.google.com/**search/**docs/**advanced/**structured-data/breadcrumb

  • is a secondary guidance menu that allows an easy and efficient navigation within a page that enhances the user experience.
  • has 3 different types that consist of location/hierarchy based, direction based and attribution based. The most efficient type should be preferred according to the industry and type of content.
  • contributes directly to the crawlability, indexing, impressions and CTR metrics of a website.  
  • increases page views and decreases bounce rates.

Resources

https://vwo.com/blog/why-use-breadcrumbs/

https://www.semrush.com/blog/breadcrumbs-for-websites/

https://www.bigcommerce.com/ecommerce-answers/what-is-breadcrumb-navigation/

https://www.woorank.com/en/blog/breadcrumb-navigation-a-guide-to-types-benefits-and-best-practices

https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/breadcrumb-navigation-examined-best-practices-examples/

https://yoast.com/breadcrumbs-seo/

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/navigation-breadcrumbs

https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/breadcrumbs-in-web-design-examples-and-best-practices/