Breadcrumbs are graphical control elements used for navigation on web pages and user interfaces. People also call them breadcrumb trails. This term refers to the story of Hansel and Gretel, who made a trail using bread crumbs to track the path.
Breadcrumbs track and show the pages the visitor has viewed. They show the pages either in a hierarchical fashion or in the sequence in which they were viewed. Breadcrumbs are present horizontally under the website’s navigation or masthead.
Types of breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are primarily of three types. They are as follows:
1) Hierarchy or Location-based Breadcrumb Trails
These breadcrumbs allow the users to move to a higher-level page and a broad category. They can do so based on the page the user has visited recently. They help to go high in the hierarchy and check where they are.
These breadcrumbs help users understand the hierarchical structure of websites. Location-based breadcrumbs also direct users to the home page and are essential for websites having a lot of content.
2) History-based breadcrumbs
These breadcrumbs do the same thing as the back button of a web browser. Hence, it allows the user to go back to one of the pages visited previously.
It becomes handy when users have moved to a product page after using several filters in the category page. It is also known as a path-based breadcrumb trail.
3) Attribute-based breadcrumbs
Attribute-based breadcrumbs involve the various aspects of any particular product or page. It allows users to identify the relationship between products, be it small or big, broad or particular.
They do not follow any particular path. Its purpose is to describe a page attribute.
This type of breadcrumbs is for eCommerce sites.
Benefits of Breadcrumbs
1) Breadcrumbs enhance the rankings of websites.
Search engines take the help of breadcrumbs to classify information into various categories. It can improve Search Engine Optimization by connecting to the search engines and communicating what they contain. Hence, the breadcrumbs bring more traffic and help websites get a high rank.
2) They help to improve the user experience.
Breadcrumbs improve the navigation of a site. Hence, users can find the information with ease. It can encourage users to visit the different sections of the website. It may, in turn, improve the traffic to the site, and the site can get a high rank.
3) Breadcrumbs reduce bounce rates.
Breadcrumbs may keep visitors on the site for a long time. They can redirect the visitors to similar categories to stay. Visitors may get a chance to visit websites of their interest.
4) Breadcrumbs don’t take up huge space.
Breadcrumbs are in small fonts and the navigation is horizontal. Thus, they take up less space on websites.
They also add to the aesthetic elements of the site and don’t distract the users.
Guidelines to use Breadcrumbs for effective SEO
- Breadcrumbs are a form of secondary navigation. Never substitute the primary navigation tools with breadcrumbs.
- Never use breadcrumbs if all the web pages belong to the same level. Breadcrumbs should show a hierarchical structure.
- Never show history, show the hierarchy only. Users use the browser’s back button to go back.
- They are generally in the top half of web pages. Place them below the navigation bar. You may also place breadcrumbs above the headline.
- Keep the size of the breadcrumbs small.
- Move from the highest level to the lowest one.
- Always begin with the home page.
- Keep a simple link at each level. Include a single character between the levels to keep it simple.
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