Why Breadcrumbs are important for SEO and User Experience

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Why Breadcrumbs are important for SEO and User Experience

Adding breadcrumbs to your site has become a standard feature in modern web design, but some people still resist putting them on their pages. Business owners often cite the extra work and development costs as their reason for avoiding them. But is there more to this story? Are breadcrumbs more important for user experience rather than SEO?

What are breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs are links in your navigation bar on your site that help users find their way around your site and help Google display your site structure. Depending on the nature of your website, adding breadcrumbs can also help Google to generate a better search result structure and rank your site higher in search engine results.

Should I add breadcrumbs to my site?

The short answer is yes, but there's more to it than just adding a bit of extra content and code. Breadcrumbs can significantly impact the user experience and usability of your site and can improve your SEO. Let's break it down.

How do bread crumbs improve User Experience?

There are a number of ways that breadcrumbs can help improve your site's usability and user experience. To start with, you can use breadcrumbs to help users move from one page of your site to another, move back to main content areas and help users to move forward through your site. Breadcrumbs can also reduce user anxiety because the viewer can see the page hierarchy, especially when landing on or entering the site from landing pages. Then the site hierarchy just makes sense.

How many times have you clicked back and then tried to move forward but ended up on the same page? I know I have. A user can easily see the higher-level pages by simply looking at the breadcrumb.

If your site has any dropdown menus or a mega menu, the user has to remember which dropdown to click to move forward, breadcrumbs help with this and keep your audience on your site and moving forward until they find what they are looking for. This is especially helpful for e-commerce websites while navigating product categories. Breadcrumbs display the path or hierarchy without any clicks.

Some examples are:

Home > About Us > Our History

or

Home > Shop > New Releases > Shoes > Black Work Shoes

How do breadcrumbs improve SEO?

Numerous studies have shown that site owners who include breadcrumbs in their Web pages have dramatically higher search engine rankings than websites that do not. There are various ways to implement breadcrumb navigation to ensure they also match your site style however here are 3 main reasons why having breadcrumbs help your SEO.

1) Improve user experiences

Better user experiences help to keep viewers on your site, going into deeper pages, reading more posts or exploring more products. This helps improve your traffic, bounce rates, time on page and more matrics Google uses to rank your site as a valuable site to present in search results.

2) Improve site ranking

When coded right, Google can use breadcrumbs to determine that your site has "intent." The intent tells Google how relevant and engaging your content is. Your breadcrumbs are used to categorise and contextualise your pages.

Google can also display better information in the search engine results including your breadcrumbs in their design format.

3) Drive expected user flows

Depending on the type of breadcrumb structure your using, the breadcrumbs can improve your user flows meaning the direction people move through the site. They can be used to gently guide users in the right direction.

For example, a viewer clicks on a link to a set of shoes from a social media post. Rather than going back to the home page, they can click on the "Shoes" or "New Releases" in the example above to explore more shoes in that category.

Different types of Breadcrumbs

There are 3 types of breadcrumbs and the ones you choose to use will depend on your technology, desired user experience and expected outcomes.

  • Hierarchy Based
  • Attribute Based
  • History Based

1) Hierarchy Based

Hierarchy Based breadcrumbs follow the site's page hierarchy. They are similar to the navigation of the site however only show the path to the page the user is on. This helps viewers navigate their way back or through the site.

For example: Home > New release > Shoes > Mens Shoes > Shoes Name

2) Attribute Based

Commonly used in eCommerce stores, Attribute Based breadcrumbs can indicate the features of the product.

For example: Home > Cameras > Lenses > EOS > 50mm

3) History Based

The History Based breadcrumb is the least used on a website because it does not assist the user to move forward, it shows where they have been. The user will need to backtrack to then move forward. These are more common when looking through your computer files app.

For example: Hard Drive > Folder 1 > Folder 2 > Current Folder.

Conclusion

Breadcrumbs are commonly overlooked and undervalued. They improve your SEO and make a better user experience. Choosing the right style of breadcrumbs and implementing it the right way is just as important.

We include breadcrumbs as part of our designs for all our clients.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if we can help out.