What is Breadcrumb Navigation?

Importance Rating of 7/10

“Breadcrumbs” on a website serve as a typical navigational feature, providing a clear trail from the homepage to the present page for visitors to follow. This element draws its inspiration from the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel,” where the main characters scattered breadcrumb trails to ensure they could find their way back home.

A breadcrumb is a small text path, often located at the top of a page, indicating where the user is on the site. For example: Home > Services > Services 1

Breadcrumb navigation is crucial for both search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) on websites

SEO Benefits

  • Context for Search Engines: They give search engines contextual clues about your site’s structure and page hierarchy.
  • Improved Crawlability: This structure aids in better understanding and indexing of content by search engines.
  • Enhanced Internal Linking: A strong internal link architecture is created, aiding in the discovery and ranking of pages.
  • Boost in Organic Visibility: Can lead to better organic search visibility and higher rankings.

UX Benefits

  • Intuitive Navigation: Breadcrumbs offer straightforward paths for visitors to navigate your site.
  • User Location Awareness: They visually indicate a user’s current position within the website’s hierarchy.
  • Secondary Navigation: Breadcrumbs serve as an additional navigation aid that simplifies movement throughout the site.
  • Lower Bounce Rates: By enhancing navigation, they contribute to user satisfaction, potentially reducing bounce rates and extending on-site time.

Context-Specific Importance

  • Vital for E-commerce: Especially crucial for e-commerce sites, enabling easy backtracking through product categories.
  • Less Critical for Small Sites: Smaller sites with minimal content may not need them as much if the main navigation suffices.

For e-commerce websites with a wide range of product categories, breadcrumb navigation becomes even more crucial as it helps users easily trace their steps back to previous product categories or refine their search.

General Recommendation

  • Positive to SEO and UX: Breadcrumb navigation generally aids users and search engines, proving beneficial for site structure and hierarchy comprehension.
  • Varies by Site Needs: While not indispensable for every site, they are a worthy addition for most, helping enhance the user experience and search engine performance.

Now that we understand the importance of breadcrumb navigation for SEO and UX, let’s look at how to enable it on different platforms.

An illustration of virtual bread crumb navigation lines

How to Setup Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumbs for WordPress

For self-hosted WordPress sites, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO. After installing and activating the plugin, go to SEO > Search Appearance > Breadcrumbs and set the ‘Enable Breadcrumbs’ option to ‘Enabled’.

Breadcrumbs for Squarespace

Squarespace automatically includes breadcrumb navigation on certain templates. To enable it, go to Design > Site Styles, then scroll down to the ‘Products: Details’ section and check the ‘Show Breadcrumb Navigation’ box.

See here for more information.

Breadcrumbs for Shopify

Shopify doesn’t natively support breadcrumb navigation, but you can add it by editing your site’s theme code. Alternatively, you can use an SEO app like Smart SEO, which includes a breadcrumb navigation feature.

Breadcrumb navigation is a simple yet powerful tool for improving your website’s SEO. By making your site more user-friendly and easier for Google to understand, breadcrumbs can help boost your visibility on SERPs and ultimately drive more traffic to your site.

Remember, the path to SEO success is not always a straight line, but with breadcrumb navigation, you can make the journey a little easier for your users and for Google.

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