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What are breadcrumbs and how do they affect SEO and UX?

If you are interested in technical optimization of your website, you have probably heard about breadcrumbs many times. The name of the term doesn’t say much, so you might be wondering what it’s actually used for. You will learn about what it is and what role it plays on the website in our article.

What is breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs is a breadcrumb menu, also referred to as breadcrumb navigation. This is an important and often underestimated element in terms of website usability. The use of breadcrumbs makes it easier for users to find themselves on the site by showing where they are currently located in the structure of the site. The navigation menu also allows you to quickly and easily navigate to the parent page.

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What are the types of breadcrumbs?

There are three types of navigation menus, including:

Location-based breadcrumbs – it allows you to indicate to the user the current location on the site. Then the menu displays links to pages and subpages that are superior to the page on which the user is currently located.

Attribution-based breadcrumbs – this is a type of navigation menu that is most often used in online stores. It presents the user with a list of filters that are used when locating a given product on the website.

Path-based breadcrumbs – is a type of navigation that shows what steps the user has taken to reach the target page.

Are breadcrumbs good for SEO?

The navigation menu has a big impact on the effectiveness of a website’s SEO strategy – it brings many benefits. Breadcrumbs are worth implementing for the following reasons.

Breadcrumbs help Google robots understand the page

The navigation menu provides both web users and search engine robots with important information about the content on the site. The content is structured so that the algorithms can more effectively understand your offer and display the site to the right target groups.

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The navigation menu increases the visibility of the website on the web

Breadcrumbs are even displayed in the SERPs to allow Google to better predict your page’s content when it appears in search results. A well-executed navigation menu means that links leading to individual subpages on the website may appear in the organic results of Google. This has a significant impact on SEO optimization, because it increases the visibility of your website on the web and allows you to reach recipients who are more likely to be interested in your offer and convert.

Breadcrumb increases indexing and reduces bounce rate

The navigation menu allows you to better understand your site and reach the right audience, which allows you to reduce the bounce rate on your site. At the same time, it also allows for better indexing, as internal linking between pages can have a great impact on the organic performance of the site.

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How breadcrumbs affect User Experience?

The User Experience strategy is an important element of website optimization – it allows you to provide users with positive experiences from using the website, thanks to which recipients are more willing to convert, remember the website better and return to it more often.

Breadcrumbs provides better content browsing functionality

The navigation menu based on attributes and paths allows users to filter the content of the site, thanks to which they can find the content they are interested in faster and easier. Users who will use an attribute or path based navigation menu to go back to previous results with a single click. When navigation menu items are clickable, they give users a different way to browse your site than just clicking “back”.

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Breadcrumbs allow you to organize your site

The navigation menu allows you to present a multi-stage user journey through the site, where each level represents a separate click. This means that the content can be logically sorted in terms of e.g. product groups in the online store. The user will be able to go to the next segments of the website with one click, such as Shoes-> Men’s shoes -> Men’s sports shoes.

Tips for the efficient use of breadcrumbs

The crumb menu is a great solution and it is worth taking advantage of the benefits it provides, but when implementing it, you need to demonstrate appropriate knowledge. Thoughtless implementation of breadcrumbs may turn out to be only a waste of time and will not translate into any additional results. Use our tips to make your navigation menu as functional as possible.

Use breadcrumbs only if your site needs it

Breadcrumbs are worth implementing on the page if the content structure has at least two levels. However, this is a completely redundant solution if your site is one-level and you can go everywhere with a single click from the home page. In this case, the navigation menu will not bring any value to the page and is an unnecessary investment.

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Implement navigation menus that will be useful to your users

If you decide to implement breadcrumbs, focus on making them fully functional. Make sure, for example, that you have selected the type of breadcrumbs for the needs of your users. To do this, consider what kind of content is on your site and how users reach it. Usually hierarchical arrangement of content is the most convenient, but there are exceptions to this. For example, in online stores, you can apply many different attributes to individual product pages that are common to many categories (e.g. size, color, brand). Then the best kind would be to implement attribution or path based breadcrumbs.

Organize the breadcrumbs in a logical way

For most websites, the navigation menu is located at the top of the website, usually just below the main menu of the website. This is a popular and proven solution, but remember that you have to adjust the breadcrumbs to your own needs. When planning a breadcrumb menu, you should also remember about other elements affecting its functionality.

Focus on the simplicity of the navigation menu

Creativity is an important skill, but sometimes it’s better to keep it simple. The design of the navigation menu should be intuitive, and therefore as simple as possible. Focus on making the menu useful and not distracting the user from the most important elements of the site.

The breadcrumbs pictured above are simple yet fully functional. In this example, users know exactly what part of the page they are in, what category the product they are viewing belongs to, and they can easily go back to previous stages of the site.

Test your navigation menu

When implementing changes to the website, it is always worth making sure that you are working in your favor. You can never be 100% sure whether the selected change will be positively received by your recipients. This also applies to breadcrumbs. Testing the effectiveness of your navigation menu can help you catch and resolve any possible negative results before they have a major impact on your site. To conduct such a test, you can use, for example, the SplitSignal tool or perform A/B tests. However, remember that if you want to run such a test, you need to implement changes gradually. If you make many changes at once, the test results will not be able to tell you what had a significant impact on the result achieved.

What are breadcrumbs and how do they affect SEO and UX? Summary

Breadcrumbs is one of the most popular solutions implemented on websites to increase their level of functionality. This can also be an effective solution for your website – but make sure that your website really needs a navigation menu, and then choose the right type of navigation menu. If you are not sure which solution will be the best, it is worth using the advice of a specialist.

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