Breadcrumb navigation is a user interface element commonly used in websites to enhance navigation and provide users with a clear sense of their location within the website's hierarchy. It consists of a trail of clickable links that represent the user's path from the homepage or main category to the current page. Each link in the breadcrumb represents a level of the website's structure, allowing users to easily trace their steps back to previous pages.
The term "breadcrumb" is derived from the fairy tale of "Hansel and Gretel," where the characters left a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way back home. Similarly, breadcrumb navigation helps users retrace their digital steps and maintain orientation within a complex website.
The primary purpose of breadcrumb navigation is to enhance the user experience and improve website usability. By displaying a hierarchical pathway, it enables users to understand where they are within the website's structure, which is especially useful when navigating through deep or nested pages. Breadcrumb navigation is particularly valuable in large websites with extensive content, online stores, and B2B eCommerce platforms.
The breadcrumb trail typically appears horizontally at the top of a webpage, just below the header or above the main content area. It commonly consists of text links separated by arrow symbols or other visual indicators, creating a visual hierarchy that mirrors the website's structure. Each link represents a specific page or category, and users can click on any of the links to quickly navigate back to that page.
There are two main types of breadcrumb navigation: location-based and attribute-based. Location-based breadcrumbs show the user's path from the homepage or main category to the current page. For example, a location-based breadcrumb for a clothing website might be: Home > Women's Clothing > Tops > T-Shirts. Attribute-based breadcrumbs, on the other hand, display the user's path based on attributes or filters applied to the current page. For instance, an attribute-based breadcrumb on an e-commerce site could be: Home > Women's Clothing > Color: Red > Size: Medium.
From an SEO standpoint, breadcrumb navigation can have several benefits. The clear structure provided by breadcrumbs helps search engines understand the website's hierarchy and the relationships between different pages. This can contribute to improved indexing and crawling of the website, potentially leading to better visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Breadcrumbs can also enhance the internal linking structure of a website, aiding in the distribution of link authority across various pages.
Breadcrumb navigation is a user-friendly website navigation feature that visually represents the user's location within a website's hierarchy. It helps users maintain orientation, facilitates quick navigation between pages, and improves the overall usability of websites with complex structures. By implementing breadcrumb navigation, website owners can enhance user experience, increase engagement, and potentially improve their website's visibility in search engine rankings.