Breadcrumb navigation should be considered in Google SEO, though will not increase Google PageRank of your site. Google displays breadcrumbs as websites’ hierarchies in search results, if you use breadcrumbs on your web pages.
To make Google recognize your website’s breadcrumb navigation, place the breadcrumb trails closer to the top of your web page’s source code.
What is Breadcrumb Navigation?
Breadcrumb navigation consists of a one-line navigational text links that indicates the site visitor’s current page location within the website’s hierarchy. Breadcrumbs usually appear close to the top of a web page and serves the purpose to optimize site usability.
Breadcrumb navigation is sometimes called breadcrumb trails.
When to Use Breadcrumb Navigation
Site Usability Expert Jakob Nielsen defines site navigation into 2 categories:
- Primary navigation: primary site navigation menus and site search box
- Secondary navigation: breadcrumbs and html sitemaps
Breadcrumbs use a single line of text to show a page’s location in the site hierarchy. While secondary, this navigation technique is increasingly beneficial to users.
Good breadcrumb navigation should:
- Display a visitor’s current location relative to the higher-level web pages of the site.
- Allow one-click access to the higher-level web pages to prevent visitors from getting lost after running site searches. This reduces your site’s bounce rate.
- Take up as little space as possible on the web page.
How to Design Breadcrumb Navigation
Jakob Nielsen explains the design of breadcrumbs must:
- Be a horizontal line.
- Progress from the highest level to the lowest, one step at a time.
- Start with the homepage and end with the current web page.
- Have a short text link for each level except for the current page.
- Breadcrumbs should show the site hierarchy, not the visitor’s history.
- Have a one-character separator between the levels. The optimal breadcrumb separator to use between levels is > (the “forward arrow” or “greater-than symbol”).
Other Tips on Breadcrumb Navigation
Consider the use of breadcrumb navigation for usability and SEO:
- Breadcrumbs In Web Design: Examples and Best Practices – Smashing Magazine explains the definition of breadcrumbs, the types of breadcrumbs (location-based, attribute-based, and path-based), the benefits of using breadcrumbs, mistakes in breadcrumb trail implementation, and breadcrumb navigation design considerations, followed by a breadcrumb navigation showcase.
- Breadcrumb Navigation Examined: Best Practices and Examples – Hongkiat offers the breadcrumb best practices, followed by a breadcrumb navigation showcase.
- Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage – Wichita.edu’s research paper shows breadcrumb trails are used only 6% of the time during visitors’ site navigation.
- Breadcrumb Navigation Research Studies – Usability.gov’s research proved that frequently returning visitors get the most advantage of breadcrumb navigation and the use of breadcrumbs allow visitors to complete the necessary navigation faster.
- How Breadcrumb Works – Kelikuru believes breadcrumbs work best when hierarchical structure is in good categorization, but can be an issue to keep track of the trail after visitors run keyword searches on the site.