Mastering the Breadcrumb Navigation: Benefits, Types, and Best Practices

Site Audit Issues
Mastering the Breadcrumb Navigation: Benefits, Types, and Best Practices

Imagine you found an amazing item in Google search results. Most likely, you’d like to explore more similar items or items of the same brand. That's where website breadcrumbs can help you.

Read further to answer the question: “What is breadcrumb navigation?” and how using it can benefit your website and SEO.

Breadcrumb Navigation Definition

What are breadcrumbs on a website? They are a trail of website links that show your current location and help trace the whole path to this page. It's like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in a fairy tale so you can find your way back.

These breadcrumb links usually are placed at the top of the page, making it easy for you to see and use them. But unlike the ones in the fairy tale, the breadcrumbs on a website might not exactly show the journey you took to get here.

For instance, let's say you directly clicked on a link to a men's jeans page. Even though you took a shortcut, the breadcrumb menu is still there, waiting to guide you around the website.

What is a breadcrumb on a website?

They are links that guide you through the pages, showing the route to where you are and making it easy to explore.

The Perks of Breadcrumbs Navigation

Having breadcrumbs navigation on your website makes it convenient for both

users and search engines. This is especially true if your website has a deep architecture with lots of different levels.

However, even if your website is simple, we still suggest using breadcrumbs as they bring lots of benefits to your website. So, let's dive into these benefits.

Help website exploration

Breadcrumbs serve as a navigational aid for users, making it easier for them to explore additional pages on your website. This, in turn, can help increase revenue or advertising.

Imagine a user who lands on a product page and can't find their desired item. Instead of immediately leaving, they can check out the breadcrumb menu and decide to explore the wider product range and eventually purchase other items.

Create valuable internal links for SEO

In SEO, breadcrumb can work similarly to other forms of internal linking, helping search engines navigate your website and understand its structure.

All high-quality internal links help improve the crawlability of your website. This, in turn, can result in a greater number of your pages being included in Google's index (a database of potential search results) and lead to higher rankings for necessary keywords.

Enhance user experience (UX)

Using breadcrumbs in websites helps minimize the number of clicks needed to navigate a website's architecture — for instance, move from a subcategory to its parent category. This, in turn, enhances the overall user experience (UX).

Without breadcrumbs, website visitors might find themselves repeatedly using the back button or navigating through various menus. Having them on a website, on the other hand, simplifies the process for users, allowing them to click a single link within the breadcrumb trail.

Moreover, many users expect to see breadcrumbs on websites by default. If there aren't any, this can cause certain frustration.

Increases search engine clicks

Breadcrumbs can be displayed in Google search results. Enriched results, also known as rich snippets, tend to be more appealing and informative and attract additional clicks.

If you want Google to effectively locate and display breadcrumbs, implement the breadcrumbs schema within your page's code.

Various kinds of breadcrumbs

These days, you can find lots of different types of breadcrumbs for SEO and UX. Let's learn about each type in detail.

Structure-oriented breadcrumbs

Such breadcrumbs are designed to follow the website's architecture, also known as its "hierarchy." With them, the pathway usually starts from the top-level category. Then, it follows through more detailed, nested subcategories until reaching the present page.

This form of breadcrumb is especially beneficial for those visitors who find your website via Google search results. This makes it easier for them to ascend the hierarchy and explore additional options.

Filter-driven breadcrumbs

These breadcrumbs create a dynamic trail that is affected by various filters users apply on a page. They are mostly used on eCommerce platforms, often in combination with structure-based breadcrumbs.

This type is valuable for users who want to discover all products with the same specific attributes.

History-driven breadcrumbs

They show the specific path users follow to reach a certain page. However, instead of detailing the entire path, they usually work as a back button, helping users return to the previous page.

Such breadcrumbs might not be the most useful in many scenarios, as they have the same function as the browser's "back" button. Therefore, they aren't utilized in website designs often.

5 Best Practices to Make the Most out of Your Breadcrumbs SEO and Navigation

The best practices listed below can help you come up with user-friendly navigation that is easy to understand and follow.

Let your breadcrumbs support the primary navigation

Breadcrumbs on your website should not be a substitute for your primary navigation menu. Instead, they are more of a supplementary method for users to explore your website. They connect to highly relevant pages, helping visitors figure out your website's structure.

Include separators between each level

Placing a separator between each link in the breadcrumb trail can help enhance their readability. Websites commonly use different symbols as separators, with the most common ones being:

  • greater-than sign (>)
  • arrow (→)
  • forward slash (/)

Don't link to the present page

Adding the link to the current page is redundant and may confuse the visitors. However, a best practice still is to mention and mark the current page within the breadcrumb trail.

This benefits:

1. Breadcrumbs UX: visitors can better understand the current location and the information shown by the trail.

2. Breadcrumb SEO: you can include relevant keywords associated with the page.

Stick to a simple design approach

Breadcrumbs website design should remain straightforward to serve a purpose and don't distract the visitors' from the main page content. Best practice here is to make breadcrumbs easy to notice and identify and ensure they serve their purpose without driving unnecessary attention.

Check the functionality of your links

Broken links can negatively impact both UX and SEO breadcrumbs. Therefore, it's crucial to check for them regularly and ensure that your breadcrumbs are functioning correctly. You can do it with the help of special tools that conduct SEO audits.

How to Analyze Website Structure with Netpeak Spider

Netpeak Spider is a smart tool that allows you to examine the structure of the analyzed website, identify its strengths and weaknesses, or discover new ideas. This can be especially helpful if you intend to adopt competitors' tactics.

Netpeak Spider

Here's how to analyze the website structure using Netpeak Spider.

1. Launch the tool.

2. If you need to conduct a website structure analysis instead of a complete audit, choose the 'Minimum' template in the 'Settings' tab.

3. Enter the URL of the main page in the URL bar and initiate the crawling process by clicking the 'Start' button.

4. Once the crawling is complete, move to the 'Reports' tab → 'Site Structure' to see the URL structure.

5. Use the 'Extended Copy' feature to transfer the website structure data to a tab. A notification in the bottom right corner will confirm that copying was successful.

6. Paste the data into any spreadsheet editor, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets.

The 'Site Structure' report in Netpeak Spider helps you conduct a comprehensive analysis of URL segments on your website or a competitor's website. Try this tool to see for yourself!


Now you know what are breadcrumbs, which types of them exist, and how they can help you improve the user experience and SEO of your website. Implement the best practices listed in this article to make the most out of your breadcrumb navigation.