What are breadcrumbs? Why do I need them?
No matter what audience or industry your website serves, every visitor likes to have a quick answer to one simple question:
“Where the hell am I?”
Breadcrumbs provide an instant answer for this basic orientation question.
They are the web equivalent of a “You are here” sign, with some context clues for how to get where you want to go.
Every website should use them. Your visitors will thank you. But in case you’re still on the fence, Google recommends them.
Ok, sounds important. Give me the short version.
Breadcrumbs are just a string of links at the top of your page. These breadcrumb trails show the page’s position in the site hierarchy.
Your visitors can use these breadcrumb links to navigate all the way back to the home page, one page at a time, by starting from the last link in the breadcrumb trail.
So what do breadcrumbs actually look like?
Google has a great example of this, and I’ll include it here for you:
In the example below, the page “The Stand” talks about a specific book. If this page had breadcrumbs, they might look like this:
The last item in the breadcrumb trail – “The Stand” – leads to the page itself.
The breadcrumb before that – “Stephen King” – leads to its parent page.
The “Authors” breadcrumb leads two levels up the site hierarchy.
(You can probably guess where the “Home” breadcrumb link will take you.)
So what’s the latest breadcrumb shakedown?
Breadcrumbs have become increasingly important to search engines and websites:
- Google Explains Breadcrumbs
- Google Replaces URLs with Breadcrumbs in Mobile Search (April 2015)
- Google confirms: yes, this is really happening. (April 2015)
Here’s the visual from Search Engine Land:
Can I do this myself?
For the tech-savvy WordPress users among us, here is a link to our personal favorite breadcrumbs plugin: Breadcrumb Nav XT