What are Breadcrumbs? The 3 types and their powerful advantages for SEO

what are breadcrumbs

Until now you may have thought the only breadcrumbs that exist are the ones on your fried chicken! However, there’s another version you should be familiar with if you own a website.

In this post, we’re going to look at them in relation to websites (not chicken). We’ll also explain the difference between the 3 types and how using them can improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

What we’ll cover in this post:

Table of Contents

What are breadcrumbs?

They are small text links that act as navigational aids to display where a user is located on a website.

But this secondary navigation not only provides the browser with an improved User Experience (UX) it also gives a helping hand to the search engines, in order to quickly and efficiently crawl your site.

And the breadcrumb links back to each page (each level of your site’s structure), providing a clear order of your pages to Google and other search engines, making it easier for them to understand what your site’s all about!

So, we now know what they are, but what do they look like when they are displayed on a web page?

Well, pretty simple really, in fact, you don’t need to look any further than the top of this post, or in the header of our services pages:

Example of breadcrumb navigation

As the saying goes, “Good Things Come In Threes”, and breadcrumbs are no different!

Each of the 3 types offers a similar theme, but their usage differs slightly depending on the website’s purpose e.g shop, service, or research.

The 3 types of breadcrumbs are:

  1. The Location type
  2. The Attribute type
  3. The Path type

The Location type

Location-based breadcrumbs are probably the ones you will be most familiar with. This type displays the structure of the website to the user (and search engine) and gives them access back to the previous page.

Example: Home > SEO Blog > Blog title

The Attribute type

Attribute-based breadcrumbs You will find this type more commonly used on eCommerce websites. They show the user where they are on the website and the route they got there, just like hansel and gretel!

Example: Home > Shop > Mens > Shoes

The Path type

Path or History-based breadcrumbs show the user the route they took to get to where they currently are. These are used when you have a main topic with separate links pointing to subtopics.

Example: Home > SEO Blog > Backlinks > How to get backlinks

Now we have identified what breadcrumbs are as well as the 3 types available, we can start to understand how they can be used on different websites.

In some way, the previous section explaining the types actually answered this question for us.

But in fact, this is only from the customer’s point of view.

We now need to understand how they can be used to help search engines.

By correctly adding breadcrumbs to your website, using structured data, provides search engines with a way of understanding how you have built your website in order for them to crawl it effectively.

A clear organised page structure throughout your website is a key ranking factor when it comes to website optimisation.

A benefit of this clear structure is that it allows them to be displayed just above your page title, in the google search results for your page.

A search result showing the effective use of breadcrumbs

There are a few advantages of using breadcrumbs on your website, all of which, if used correctly can have a positive impact on your SEO.

We’ve already mentioned how they help search engines understand the structure of your site. In fact, Google state that:

“Google Search uses breadcrumb markup in the body of a web page to categorize the information from the page in search results”  However, what other benefits do they have?

Google Docs explanation of how it uses breadcrumbs

Connected to this, as we’ve seen above, if implemented correctly, they now appear in the search results themselves, allowing the user to know exactly where on your website the information they need is!

They also enhance the experience of a user whilst on the website, which ultimately increases the time they spend browsing. This can also mean that they are more likely to return, which is loyalty that is invaluable if you own an eCommerce website.

Conclusion – What have we learnt?

I think we can agree that although adding them is not essential, the benefits of using them are clear.

When you look at the advantages for not only the user but to you as a website owner, the question is – why wouldn’t you use them?

Are you effectively using breadcrumbs on your website? As part of our SEO Services, we will ensure your website is using them to its advantage, as well as many other SEO factors that you should consider.

Contact us today for a friendly chat or email us for more information. Why not take advantage of our FREE Website Audit to see how your website is currently functioning!

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Andy Johnson
Andy Johnson
I am an SEO Consultant with over 16 years of experience in the digital marketing industry. I achieved 'SEO Expert' status from the globally recognised Gotch SEO Academy and gained further accreditation from the UK Insitute for Data & Marketing in SEO and PCC marketing. My knowledge and passion for Search Engine Optimisation drive me to get results for my clients.