Their design is an archetype. Their position on the page is apparently clear. They have proven their value in SEO for years. However, since we moved to mobile indexing first, many sites have missed the breadcrumb navigation or have no breadcrumb at all.
This is a mistake.
Breadcrumbs are useful for SEO and usability when implemented optimally for mobile devices. Here’s everything you need to know to get it right.
What is a breadcrumb navigation?
A navigation in breadcrumbs is usually a line of contextual links that indicate where a user is on a website. They are a form of Secondary Mobilitywhich allows users to trace their path in the site hierarchy.
When should breadcrumbs be used?
Not all websites make use of breadcrumbs. It is not necessary for sites that:
- It does not have many nested levels of navigation.
- It has no logical hierarchy or grouping.
- They are designed as linear experiences.
For such flat-topped sites where there is comfortably a lot of content on the same level, breadcrumbs will offer little value as they will have no more than two levels.
This can be true even for large sites. For example, a business news site may offer many topics and thousands of articles, but it will not need multiple levels of navigation.
On the other hand, for sites based on complex hierarchical structures, breadcrumbs are essential. The classic example is e-commerce, but its application is much broader.
The question is how to make breadcrumbs useful for both users and Google. This is an art of its own.
3 kinds of breadcrumbs tracks
Most UX experts recognize three types:
- Track-based breadcrumbs (aka date)
- Breadcrumbs based on features
- Hierarchy-Based Navigation Gestures (aka Location)
For SEO, there should only be one hierarchical navigation segment. this is the reason.
Path Based Navigation Lanes show a user’s unique steps leading to their current page.
Showing a user’s previous click path is not a best practice for SEO or usability.
- It duplicates the functionality provided by the browser’s back button.
- It is useless for users who land on a page deep in the site.
- It is often long, repetitive, and ultimately confusing to the user.
- Since breadcrumbs are dynamic and unique to each session, search engines will not process internal links.
Breadcrumbs should show hierarchy, not history.
Breadcrumbs based on features It is encouraged when the content on a particular page belongs to multiple categories and attributes. For example, the shoe may be black ankle boots with heels.
There is no logical hierarchy for these properties. So there is a question in what order the breadcrumbs are displayed. Should the breadcrumbs path look like this:
Home > Shoes > Heels > Black > Ankle Length
Home> Heels> Boots> Ankle Length> Black
or other combination.
I’ve seen recommendations to set a base path based on theme usage or query size. Or, customize the navigation path to reflect the individual path of each user within the site hierarchy. Both are wrong approaches.
Instead of trying to impose the linear structure of breadcrumbs on something that is multi-hierarchical in nature. Eliminate the requirement that they are within the navigation path. Instead, display themes in a format that fits their nature as filter options.
This leaves us with Hierarchical Navigation Path guidance. These depict the depth of the site’s structure, starting with the broader, top-level category and progressing down through more specific nested subcategories before reaching the current page.
Hierarchical breadcrumbs are the most used, the most intuitively understood and the most powerful for SEO. As such, it will be the only type considered for the remainder of this article.
SEO benefits for navigating through breadcrumbs and structured data
Breadcrumbs are an essential component of route-finding support – guiding the user and providing one-click access to relevant higher-level pages. This is especially important when a visitor navigates to a page deep in a website’s hierarchy. For example, on a product page after clicking on a long query Google search result.
But it is more than easy to use the website. Breadcrumbs support every step of the SEO process.
1. More crawling
The internal links generated by breadcrumbs help display all levels of the search engine’s crawler hierarchy. This is especially important for lower levels, which may not be reached or when reached may not achieve a high enough priority in the Google crawl queue without such flags.
Benefits can be measured by reducing “discovered – not currently indexed” exclusions in Google Search Console and increasing crawl frequency.
2. Better indexing
Hierarchical links help Google contextualize content and properly link pages to the site’s structure. If Google only sees URLs through a sitemap, they won’t understand how the URLs relate to each other.
This causes difficulties when Google tries to understand the relevance of the page to the context of the site. Breadcrumb links support the formation of subject silos, which are becoming increasingly important with entity-focused indexing.
Benefits can be measured by increased valid URLs in Google Search Console and faster indexing speed.
3. Top Ranking, SERP Clicks and Membership Sessions
Breadcrumbs support arrangement in two ways:
- Strengthens the internal link structure: Allow link rights to flow between thematically linked pages.
- A natural way to include keywords above the fold: This is unlikely to show an impact on highly competitive queries, but it could make a difference in the long run.
The benefits can be measured in a decrease in average ad position as well as an increase in impressions in Google Search Console. Increasing the rankings will lead to more clicks and, of course, organic sessions.
On-site breadcrumbs vs. breadcrumbs moving chart signs
On-page breadcrumbs and breadcrumb markers are separate things. The presence of breadcrumbs on the site does not imply the presence of structured data for the navigation path.
The quickest way to find out if your site has a valid breadcrumb markup is to check the Breadcrumbs report in Google Search Console. If you see errors, see BreadcrumbList Structured Data.
For optimal effect, it is better that both are not only present, but also support the other’s message about the site’s structure. This will result in more Google support for contextualising content, which again leads to better indexing.
Also, the breadcrumb structured data may help with organic performance by changing the URL path to the breadcrumb in the SERP snippet. Although Google can display the breadcrumb even without coding the breadcrumb.
Conversely, as with most tags, the mere presence of schema markup does not guarantee change and can sometimes lead to suboptimal breadcrumb results, often depending on length. So track the effect carefully. But for most sites, Navigation path structured data It is the best practice.
Best mobility exercise
Previously, breadcrumb navigation was a consistent component of the interface. Possibly due to its relative simplicity.
Hierarchical links exist, and they are separated by some kind of determinant. But then the mobile phone arrived first and things got complicated. Historical best practices for the smaller screen need to be modified.
So, what are the best practices for mobile UX breadcrumbs?
The main UX best practices are:
- Always available: Breadcrumbs should be present on every relevant page. Related meaning they add important heuristic value worthy of the main position.
- logical location: Place breadcrumbs just below the main navigation menu and above H1. This is where users are expected. Put it elsewhere, you won’t reap the full usage benefits and if it’s low on the page it will reduce the internal link strength.
- A clear beginning and end: Breadcrumbs should show the journey from the home page to the current page. The homepage acts as an anchor which gives a strong sense of direction to the users. Show the last element as a non-clickable element, and as such, the highlighted element visually assures the user which page they are currently on.
- symbolic separator: The optimal delimiter for separating hyperlinks in breadcrumbs remains the greater than (>) symbol because it is concise while indicating the relationship between pages. Other options such as slashes (/) or pipes (|) do not indicate hierarchy. While options like » and -> take up unnecessary space.
- The size is just right: Keep the breadcrumb design simple and unobtrusive with a small font, although large enough and padded enough to be a click target, in a style consistent with the text links on the rest of their websites. Do not clutter the line with unnecessary text such as “You are here” or “Move”.
And what are the best SEO practices for mobile-first indexing breadcrumbs?
It’s a no-brainer, but many sites get this wrong. Make breadcrumbs visible on mobile In the same design as the desktop.
Include Complete navigation path down the hierarchy to the current page. Link all of these pages, except for the last element to avoid the confusion of a self-reference link that reloads the page. Don’t shorten breadcrumbs by omitting steps, truncating intermediate steps with a “…” sign, or including only the last levels. All this takes away the power of breadcrumbs SEO.
The question then becomes, how to include all links without breadcrumb wrapping in multiple lines on mobile. Not just because the multi-line breadcrumb doesn’t show the well chain structure. But most importantly, it takes up precious space on the small screen.
to Achievement breadcrumbs one line Without sacrificing design or ease of use, efficacy is surplus. This allows users to scroll to see the entire path, which can be encouraged by the inclusion of a swiper assistant or a horizontal scroll bar. However, it is essential that the overflow overflow is implemented with CSS to remain SEO friendly.
Just because the breadcrumbs are now pretty in one line, it doesn’t give a license to make the user work on the scroll. Memorizes Summary of body text and related keywords.
Don’t feel like you have to reverse the page title in the breadcrumbs. Good to have, but not at the cost of becoming long or repetitive. And never clip page titles with ellipses. Instead, specify a short, straightforward name to use.
For example, in the property gate, if you’re building it on the title, you might end up with breadcrumbs:
Home > Real Estate for Sale > Homes for Sale > Homes for Sale in London > Homes for Sale in Islington > 3 Bedroom Homes for Sale in Islington
Instead of brevity:
Home > Sale > Homes > London > Islington > 3 Bed
Breadcrumbs are essential
Breadcrumbs are an essential form of secondary navigation for hierarchically complex sites. They support wayfinding, improving usability and reducing pogo stickiness from Google SERPs.
In addition, it enhances SEO by making it easier to crawl, placing content in the context of indexing, and providing internal link rights. A typical layout with mobile first convolution of the entire breadcrumb fitting on one line thanks to CSS overflow will show the full power of breadcrumbs.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of the search engine. Staff authors are listed here.