What are Breadcrumbs? – SEO FAQs Simply Answered

Have you ever heard this term and wondered what are breadcrumbs in the context of the digital world? – If yes, then you have landed in the right place.

Almost every major website knows the importance of breadcrumbs and so should you. Therefore, we will guide you through the meaning and purpose of these little navigational aids.

What are breadcrumbs?

To better grasp the purpose of breadcrumbs, let’s see how they got their name. Remember the story of Hansel and Gretel? When they wandered off into the deep dark woods, they dropped pieces of bread that would help them navigate back home. This simple model then served as the foundation for websites’ breadcrumbs.

A breadcrumb is a small text path that immediately shows you where you are on a given site.

Essentially breadcrumbs serve two major purposes:

  1. Letting users know where they are located on your site.
  2. Helping Google understand how your site is structured.

They are usually located at the top of a page. Every part of the breadcrumb trail is clickable. Therefore, you can navigate all the way back to the homepage whenever you want.

The breadcrumb trail immediately shows you where you are. Every step of that path is clickable, usually, all the way back to the homepage.

Here is an example of a breadcrumb trail in use (Amazon):

what are breadcrumbs

In this case,  the breadcrumb trail does not let you navigate back to the home page but rather to the broad category of “Electronics”.

Different types of breadcrumbs

Now that we are clear on what are breadcrumbs, let’s see the most common types on the web.

Hierarchy based breadcrumbs

Most often you will see this type of breadcrumb trail. This type of breadcrumb lets you know how many steps are from the home page to your location.

For example, Home -> Blog -> Category -> Post

what are breadcrumbs?

Attribute-based breadcrumbs

This type of breadcrumb trail is most commonly seen in e-commerce sites. The trail is made up of attributes of a particular page.

For example, Home -> Product category -> Gender -> Type of Product

Path-based breadcrumbs

Path-based breadcrumb trail will show you the exact steps you have taken to arrive to your current location on the site. In other words, this type of breadcrumb trail is based on navigational history.

The idea is something like this: Home -> Previous page -> Previous page -> Your Location.

This type of breadcrumb trail is slowly becoming extinct since it can be easily replaced by the “Back” button.

Why are breadcrumbs important?

There are a couple of reasons why a website would decide to use breadcrumbs. To give you an idea, here are some of them:

  • Enhanced user experience
  • Reduced count of steps to return to higher-lever pages
  • Reduced bounce rates with first-time users
  • Breadcrumbs help Google understand the way your site is structured and they might actually appear in search results.

So now that we have talked about what are breadcrumbs you should have a better insight into their purpose. Although Hansel and Gretel still got lost in the woods despite leaving navigational trail, you have a chance of not letting that happen to your visitors.

If you have other Search Engine Related Questions visit our SEO FAQ section.