Breadcrumbs & SEO: What They Are & Why They Matter

Guide: Breadcrumbs and SEO - What they are and why do they matter

Hansel had the right idea when he dropped breadcrumbs through the forest to find his way home. Though his trail of breadcrumbs didn’t help him much (alas, birds ate them), the story inspired the name of a website navigation element. If you’re serious about search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience, you need to know about what breadcrumbs mean for your website.

Breadcrumbs are an especially important component for larger websites that have a lot of low-level pages. Search engines use them to get a better understanding of how your website is structured; and your users rely on them to keep tabs on where they are in the hierarchy of your website, so they don’t get lost.

When you consider that 75% of website users rank “ease of use” as the most important characteristic of a website, this is something to pay attention to. In this guide and tutorial, you’ll learn how to use breadcrumbs to enhance your SEO and help your users navigate.

What are Breadcrumbs on a Website?

You may already be familiar with website breadcrumbs, even if you don’t realize it. In the most common cases, breadcrumbs are a sequence of small, named links that represent each page in a page hierarchy on your site. They expand as a user goes deeper and deeper into your page hierarchy. 

They usually present at the top of the page under the main navigation menu. This provides a reference for where the user is and an easy way for them to jump back to previous pages. 

The user doesn’t have to visit each page in the hierarchy for the breadcrumbs to present themselves. These types of breadcrumbs don’t show the user’s path through the site. Instead, they show the user where they are on the site in relation to other pages in a page hierarchy.

Here’s an example of how breadcrumbs look on eBay:

What are Breadcrumbs on a Website Example - Ebay

You can reach this page by going to the eBay home page, clicking on “Clothing, Shoes & Accessories,” “Men,” and then on “Men’s Clothing” But, most likely, you’ll arrive on this page by Googling “Men’s T-Shirts on eBay” and clicking on the page in the results.

The breadcrumbs still appear when you enter through search, providing a reference for where you are on the website.

Most computers (both Macs and PCs) use a similar breadcrumb system to help users navigate through their files. Here’s what it looks like on a Mac:

Breadcrumbs on Mac

And here’s what it looks like on a PC:

Breadcrumbs on Windows - SEO Guide on Breadcrumb trail

Website breadcrumbs apply the same concept to the pages on your site. These are what are known as hierarchy-based breadcrumbs because they show the hierarchy of a sequence of file folders or pages.

They are also sometimes referred to as location-based breadcrumbs because they show the user where they are in reference to other files or pages.

There are other types of breadcrumbs, too. These are known as attribute-based breadcrumbs and path-based breadcrumbs.

Attribute-Based Breadcrumbs

Attribute-based breadcrumbs are the second most common type. They are a popular tool on eCommerce websites because they indicate what categories or tags are associated with the page that is currently being viewed. This allows the user to more easily shop by category or tag. 

For example, let’s say you’re looking at a Bohemian-style rug shaped like a rectangle that’s 9 feet by 12 feet and between $300 and $600 (very specific!). You decide to shop on Overstock.com to get a great deal:

Types of Breadcrumbs - Good Web Design Impact

Here’s a great example of hierarchy-based breadcrumbs and attribute-based breadcrumbs in action at the same time. 

Not only can you navigate the website based on the page hierarchy, but you can also navigate your shopping results by specific categories, like price and style. This makes it easier for you to find the rug you want, then further explore the Home Décor section so you can find drapes to match! 

Path-Based Breadcrumbs

Path-based breadcrumbs are perhaps the least common. They present as the exact path the user follows as they navigate from page to page on the website. 

Essentially, they look like this: 

First Page > Second Page > Third Page > Current Page

While there are some benefits to this method, it can also be confusing for the user because it doesn’t show them the actual structure of your website. Path-based breadcrumbs also act as a stand-in for the forward and back buttons on a user’s browser, which makes them more-or-less obsolete. 

How Breadcrumbs Help with Navigation

You can probably already tell how breadcrumbs can help with navigation. Consider the eBay  website.

eBay needs to contain a great deal of information, all of which must be categorized and easy to find. It must also be accessible to shoppers who may not be tech-savvy, as well as those with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies like screen-readers.

Without the breadcrumbs as a reference, it would be easy for users to get lost on the website as they search for the information they’re looking for. There are thousands of pages on the website. 

Using breadcrumbs also makes eBay easy for search engines to crawl and reference, which makes It easy for users to find specific pages using a search engine. If we do a Google search for “eBay Men’s Clothing,” the first result is the eBay Men’s Clothing page:

Sample of Breadcrumbs Navigation on Google Search Results

You can also see the “Men’s Clothing” page in the hierarchy of the search results. Similarly, breadcrumbs help Google display a page hierarchy for the page it’s showing in search results.

Here’s the second result for a search of “What are breadcrumbs in WordPress”:

What are breadcrumbs in WordPress - Yoast Breadcrumb Navigation on Google

Breadcrumbs only get used as a navigation tool about 6% of the time, while 40% of users click on embedded links, 31% use the browser back button, and 22% click on the navigation bar. 

According to user experience expert Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, “Breadcrumbs never cause problems in user testing: People might overlook this small design element, but they never misinterpret breadcrumb trails or have trouble operating them.” 

Incidentally, breadcrumbs also “take up very little space on the page,” so they won’t use up too much of your page’s real estate.

How Breadcrumbs Help with SEO

As we referenced above, breadcrumbs help Google determine how your website is structured. The search engine can even use your breadcrumbs as search results, which can help users find specific pages on your site.

From an SEO and a business perspective, this gives your site a better chance of taking up more space on a search engine results page (SERP). As you can see in the eBay example, eBay not only occupies the first Google search result, but it’s subpages occupy the next three rows as well.

Naturally, doing a search that includes “eBay” is likely to bring up the eBay website, but you get the idea.

According to Yoast, breadcrumbs can also lower bounce rates. Because it’s more likely that someone will enter your website through organic search, breadcrumbs can help guide them to your higher-level pages if they can’t find what they’re looking for on the first one.

How Do You Enable Breadcrumbs?

If you want to enable breadcrumbs in WordPress, you can find multiple plugins that will do the task for you. All you have to do is install and configure them. 

Enabling Breadcrumbs with Yoast

If you already use the SEO tool Yoast, you can enable Yoast breadcrumbs as well. One way is to add the following code to your WordPress theme in the location you want your breadcrumbs to appear (usually underneath the main navigation)

How To Enable Breadcrumbs on Yoast Plugin

Yoast also notes that “depending on your theme, you may or may not need to add in the beginning <php and ending ?> php tags. If you are not sure, your theme developer can help.”

Once you embed the code, Yoast allows you to enable breadcrumbs directly in the tool. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:

Step 1: Log in to your WordPress site and go to your dashboard.

Your dashboard should immediately appear when you log in.

Step 2: Go to the SEO tab

The ‘SEO’ tab is in the menu on the left-hand side.

Step 3: Click on ‘Search Appearance’

‘Search Appearance’ will appear in the list of SEO options.

Enable Breadcrumbs on Yoast - Search Appearance

Step 4: Click on the ‘Breadcrumbs’ tab.

You’ll find the ‘Breadcrumbs’ tab on the right.

Enable Breadcrumbs on Yoast - Breadcrumbs tab

Step 5: Toggle the ‘Breadcrumbs’ switch to ‘Enabled.’

You can remove Yoast’s breadcrumbs later if you like. All you have to do is toggle this option to ‘Disabled.’

Step 6: Set your breadcrumb settings to your preferences.

Yoast provides a few options for managing your breadcrumbs. For example, you can customize the separator that appears between them, add a prefix, or bold the last page listed in the breadcrumbs.

Switch Enable Breadcrumbs on Yoast

Step 7: Save your changes.

Once you’re finished, just save your changes.

Other Platforms

On some platforms, you may need to add breadcrumbs manually, or you may need to reach out to the provider or the community for help. There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to enable breadcrumbs on platforms like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix.

For example, Squarespace is a closed website building system, so it doesn’t allow for much customization. You’ll need to use the JSON-LD method instead of microdata if you want to add your own code.

You can inject your own code using “Code Injection” in the “Advanced” section under “Page Settings,” but only if you have a Premium account. Of course, you’ll need to compile your own code to do this, so it takes a little bit of coding skill.

Still, even if you have a website that isn’t on WordPress, you should still consider enabling breadcrumbs. They’re immensely important for SEO, and they could just improve your bounce rate and keep visitors on your site.

If you need help adding breadcrumbs to your website, don’t hesitate to reach out to use. We can provide a custom solution so you can take advantage of this benefit.

That’s it! 

Remember, hierarchy-based breadcrumbs are usually your best option. They’ll help your users navigate your site and they’ll make it easier for Google to analyze and index your pages. If you have an eCommerce website, consider enabling both hierarchy-based breadcrumbs and attribute-based breadcrumbs so your customers can shop more easily.

To learn more about how you can improve your website and your business, contact us at Bliss Drive for a free consultation!

8 Tips to Confront Coronavirus as a Small Business Owner

8 Ways to Confront Coronavirus as a Small Business Owner

As Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the country, business leaders in all industries – like us –  are looking for ways to adapt to life under siege of this infectious virus.

While experts are still estimating what the effect of the virus will be on the economy, there are several key things every business can do to mitigate the impact of this crisis on their livelihood.

Here are a few strategies you can adopt to keep your business, your employees, and your customers prepared for what’s ahead!

Plan For The “New Normal”


As COVID-19 continues to spread, it’s a good idea to start putting safeguards in place to protect your business and your employees for the months ahead.

Now is the time to develop a clear and concise plan for how you will maintain business operations in the event of lengthier closures, and whether your business goals will change in relation to the new normal.

Application for a small business loan

Apply For Federal Relief Programs


As COVID-19 is dramatically affecting every business in the economy, taking advantage of federal relief programs can provide your company with relief during this heightened time of uncertainty. 

You may want to consider taking out low-interest disaster loans from the federal government. These government loans are supported by the Small Business Administration, and are designed to assist you with expenses like payroll expenses and accounts payable.

Additionally, the US government will also be offsetting mandatory costs of paid leave for businesses with an employer tax credit.

If you’re a small business, you can apply for the SBA loan here

If you have many people on payroll, PPP, or Paycheck Protection Program, may be better for you as it is a bigger relief package. You can find more information about it here

Communicate With Employees


The most essential thing you might have to do during this crisis is to connect with your employees. Many of them will be concerned not just about their health, but their careers as well. 

It’s vital that your communication strategy should include an instructional guide to educate and inform your employees about the virus and how they can avoid it. You should also personally reach out to them and reassure them of your commitment to keeping their livelihood going.

Working from Home During Coronavirus
Implement Work From Home 


If your business doesn’t currently have a flexible work from home policy, now is the time to create one. As COVID-19 is rampant in every state of the US, businesses everywhere are seeking alternative work environments to avoid contact and prevent employees from contracting the virus.

If possible, consider implementing a work-from-home policy that also includes rules and guidelines for temporary remote work.

Use Zoom to Teleconference with Team
Use Free Teleconferencing Services


Don’t be a stranger! Use technology such as
Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom to keep in touch with your team and check up on how everybody is doing

Teleconferencing is a great way to reinforce the human connection, as well as conduct real-time collaboration so your business can sustain productivity.

Stay Close With Your Customers


It isn’t just your employees who will be waiting to hear from you, but your clients as well. 

As a business owner, you will want to make a conscious effort to reach out to your customers and keep them engaged during this time. Even a brief note saying that you’re still open for business will go a long way in keeping their support! 

Let customers know if you’re implementing any changes to your services at this time, and what measures you’re taking to prevent the spread of COVID as you carry on with business. Read more: The K-Factor: The Secret Factor Behind Your Company’s Growth

Find New Opportunities


Although we can’t predict what lockdowns will bring us, this down time can also provide you with a chance to discover new opportunities for your business.

The hurly-burly of daily life is expected to dwindle, so use this free time to sit down with your team to brainstorm ways to improve your business model or train staff in new skills.

Staying proactive about the growth of your business can help offset some of the uncertainty. Read more: From Visit to Lead to Sale: How to Respond to Inquiries from Prospects

Protect Your Business During The Coronavirus


While we don’t know what the next several weeks will yet bring, taking proactive and precautionary steps can put you and your employees a few steps ahead of the game.

This crisis will undoubtedly be challenging for every business owner, but companies that are well-prepared can put themselves in a better position to recover more quickly.


“We learn more in crisis than in comfort.”
― Abhijit Naskar, The Art of Neuroscience in Everything

Enter your website and see how SEO can improve your visibility. Try now – it’s free! 👇


Why You Should Focus on Long-Tail Keywords First and Short-Tails Later

A great SEO campaign is shaped like a tree: thousands of small roots stem into a few big branches. The most effective websites generally don’t target thousands of highly valuable short-tail keywords and a few smaller keywords, but thousands of long-tail keywords and a few carefully selected short-tail, high-traffic keywords.

Using the tree metaphor, let’s look at the approach that many SEOs take to building and executing their SEO campaigns:

Step One: Target 10+ lucrative, high-value, high-traffic keywords.

Step Two: Focus link building on these keywords and no others.

Step Three: Develop content solely for these high-value keywords.

The end result is predictable: their website moves up the ranks for its top keywords, but not at a particularly impressive speed. Instead of achieving a first-page ranking – and thus, receiving traffic – it sits on the second or third page, failing to attract more than a few monthly visitors from its ‘lucrative’ target keywords.

The unfortunate reality of SEO is that listings on the first page of Google receive a far higher share of traffic than those on the second page. The ration isn’t 70:30, as many expect, but something far closer to 98:2. Being at the bottom of the first page is a big boost over being at the top of the next, despite the closeness in numerical ranking.

Because of this, the best SEO campaigns are often planned with the lowest-hanging fruits targeted first, and the biggest fruits last. Long-tail keywords – keywords that receive as little as 100 searches per month – are the ideal initial target for your SEO projects due to their lack of competition and relative ranking simplicity.

Instead of the three-step model for failure we’ve discussed above, a successful SEO campaign should use the following three-step system:

Step One: Target 100+ lucrative yet low-traffic keywords.

Step Two: Focus link building solely on these low-traffic keywords.

Step Three: Develop content that targets all of your search keywords.

It takes very little effort to rank prominently for long-tail keywords, making them an ideal target for the early days of an SEO campaign. Better yet, every piece of content you build to target a long-tail keyword during your website’s early days becomes an exceptionally valuable SEO asset when it’s time to target higher-value keywords.

Think about it: it’s far easier for a prominent, well established website to rank for a high-value term than it is for a brand new website. As such, it’s worth building your website to become established and respected before you target the search keywords that are so frequently out of reach for a newcomer.

Great SEO is far more about planning and strategy as it is about the sheer volume of links and content you can generate. A website that’s built up gradually, with modest targets in its early days and ambitious targets later in its lifespan, will experience a long-term advantage that no race-to-the-top SEO effort can ever hope to match.

Social Signals: How Facebook and Twitter Are Now Essential for SEO Success

If there’s one great truth of SEO, it’s that the process of ranking websites has grown increasingly more complicated over the past decade. What was once a basic process with just three key currencies – content, keywords, and links – is now a complicated industry demanding long-term planning skills and incredible creativity.

Those three currencies have been complemented by several new additions to the SEO world: social signals. Social signals include Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and a variety of other signals of influence that are now a major part of building a long-term, stable SEO asset.

Leading SEO software company SEOmoz has covered social signals before in great detail, demonstrating a real correlation between social influence – likes, followers, and such – and rankings. Even Matt Cutts, Google’s head of SEO, has remarked on the importance of social signals for SEO.

The simple truth is this: having an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks will reward you with a more powerful brand and a better presence in the search engine results pages.

Let’s look at the key benefits of building social signals for your website, from both an SEO standpoint and a general marketing standpoint:

  • Social signals build inbound links to your website. Every Twitter profile that follows your own, for example, builds PageRank to your company’s Twitter profile, which in turn builds PageRank to your website. As such, a modest investment in social media can drastically help with your SEO efforts.

  • Social signals give you a powerful advantage if your website is ever subject to a manual search quality review. Google has invested heavily in technology to remove anonymous, low quality websites from its index. Having a genuine social profile shows that you’re a real company, not an anonymous face.

  • Social signals give your website influence and social proof. If a new customer stumbles upon your website, they’re far more likely to order if they can see that you have hundreds of Twitter followers and happy Facebook fans. In a lot of ways, social followers are the new web’s version of the testimonial.

  • Social signals inspire SEO activity. If your company is a superstar on Twitter or Facebook, it has a great promotional avenue for generating links to blog posts, white papers, and other important promotional content.

Now, some businesses have seen the advantages that social signals offer and tried to spam their way to success. This typically takes the form of buying Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and other key social currencies.

Here’s why it won’t be a successful strategy: real social followers market for you, and a fake social presence gains you all of the worthless aspects of a social following, but none of the beneficial ones. Sure, you have the numbers, but you don’t have the huge promotional power than those numbers can do for you.

When it comes to social signals, the best way to build your company’s influence is to tackle the issue organically. Prepare great content, market it naturally, and enjoy an incredible boost to your SEO efforts and your company’s public brand.