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What Are Breadcrumbs and How Do They Benefit SEO?

What Are Breadcrumbs and How Do They Benefit SEO?

You probably use the term breadcrumbs in relation to the crumbs left on your counter after making a sandwich, but it is also a term used to describe an optional feature in website design. Not only that, but breadcrumbs can help with your SEO efforts.

They are not the most important part of SEO by any stretch of the imagination. However, they can help, they are easy to implement (your website design company in Auckland can help), and they occupy very little space on your website. Therefore, it usually makes sense to use them.

Origins in a Medieval Fairy Tale

The name of this website design feature comes from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. As with many famous fairy tales, the story is quite horrible looking at it from a modern perspective.

It is set in medieval Germany during a famine. A woodcutter and his wife are struggling to survive, so they decide to walk their children into the middle of the woods, leaving them there to fend for themselves. The kids try to foil the plan by taking bread with them, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that they intend to follow in order to get back home.

However, things don’t work out well for Hansel and Gretel as birds eat the breadcrumbs, leaving the children stranded in the woods.

Luckily, the breadcrumbs we refer to in relation to website design are much more useful and reliable. The principle is the same, however, i.e. leaving a trail so website users can see where they are on your site as well as how to get back to where they started.

Enhancing the User Experience

Breadcrumbs are text-based, and they show visitors at a glance where they are in your website’s sitemap. Here’s an example:

Home > Blog > Category > Blog Title

So, in this example, the visitor is on the page Blog Title. The path to that page is via Home, Blog, and Category. If a visitor wanted to find more on the topic, they can easily click on the Category link in the breadcrumb. In other words, breadcrumbs facilitate easy navigation.

They also make it easy for visitors to quickly see and understand where they are on your website.

The Types of Breadcrumbs Most Commonly Used

  1. Hierarchy or Location-Based Breadcrumbs. These breadcrumbs are based on-site structure as in the example above.
  2. Attribute Breadcrumbs. Attribute breadcrumbs are mainly used on e-commerce websites for product listings. An example could be:Home > Product Category > Brand > Product

SEO Benefits of Breadcrumbs

  • Beneficial to users – as already mentioned, breadcrumbs improve the user experience of your website. Specifically, breadcrumbs help prevent your website users from losing their way or becoming confused. Plus, users are familiar with them. As with most things in relation to SEO, if it’s good for visitors to your website, it’s good for Google.
  • Can enhance search listings – Google can include breadcrumbs in search results for your website, enhancing your listings. Your website needs to be properly coded for this to be possible using what is known as structured data. Your website designer can help with this.
  • Helps reduce bounce rates – breadcrumbs provide you with another tool on your website to reduce bounce rates. A website bounce is when a user lands on a page on your website and then leaves without looking at any other pages. Breadcrumbs encourage users to explore further as they can see at a glance the structure of the part of your website they are interested in.

Compared to other aspects of SEO, breadcrumbs are a fairly simple feature to activate. It makes sense to use them.

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