Improve User Experience with Breadcrumb Navigation
October 3, 2013
When structuring the navigation on your website, you may want to consider using breadcrumb navigation. So what is breadcrumb navigation and how can it improve SEO for your website?
The name “breadcrumb navigation” probably sounds familiar in that it references the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale where they use a trail of breadcrumbs to mark their path. Breadcrumb navigation follows this same idea in that you can easily see the path that took you to a particular webpage, rather than having to hit the “back” or “forward” buttons on your browser to move around. Often overlooked in the design process, breadcrumb navigation can greatly increase a website’s usability.
There are three popular types of breadcrumb navigation:
Location-based breadcrumb navigation shows where a current page is located in the hierarchy of the website. When moving further into the website, users are provided with links or categories that act as a “parent” to the following page.
Path-based breadcrumb navigation is link-based and provides links to the previous pages that brought you to your current location. This type of breadcrumb navigation is considered the least popular because it doesn’t differ that much in functionality from simply using a browser’s “back” or “forward” buttons.
This type of breadcrumb navigation is especially popular on ecommerce websites. Products are displayed under a category but also have certain attributes as well. For example, a site that sells iPhone cases might have color, pattern, brand, style, etc.
The overall benefit of breadcrumb navigation to SEO is that it improves a website’s user experience. As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, user experience is a crucial factor in how Google judges the relevancy of a given website in SERPs. Breadcrumb navigation improves user experience in several ways:
1.) It’s easier for users to backtrack.
2.) Users can see the hierarchy of a page in the context of a site.
3.) It eliminates unnecessary or extra clicks.
4.) Breadcrumb navigation is generally considered more visually appealing than other types of navigation.
Also worth mentioning is that breadcrumb navigation can reduce a site’s bounce rate because it reduces the need of a user to hit the “back” button on their browser. Google’s endorsement of breadcrumb navigation is apparent in that their structured data markup allows breadcrumbs to be displayed using rich snippets.