SEO basics

Don’t fail with your breadcrumbs

June 25, 2015 - 2  min reading time - by Emma Labrador
Home > SEO Thoughts > Don’t fail with your breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs indicate a users current position when visiting a page of your website. They provide a path from your homepage to the page that the user is viewing. In other words, breadcrumbs translate the structure of your website, bring context to your page’s frame and lower your bounce rate since they help guide your visitors through your website. There are different types of breadcrumbs even if not all of them are recommendable for your SEO strategy.

What are the different types of breadcrumbs?

  • Location based: they draw a path through the different layers of your website and link pages in the same category to an host. They represent the structure of a website. For example: Home > spirituous > wine > red wine
  • Keyword or attribute based: they don’t show you your location on the website, but meta-information or attributes about the page. E-commerce websites are more likely to use these ones. See an example on
  • Path based: they represent the different logical paths a visitor could take to reach a page. Path based breadcrumbs are dynamic. Thus different breadcrumbs can lead to the same page.

In general we would recommend to use location based breadcrumbs, as the two other types can lead to duplicate content and then compromise your website’s rankings.

What impact for your SEO?

Breadcrumbs can have a beneficial impact on your SEO. They provide contextualization to search engines of your inner and outer pages. But that’s not all:

  • Breadcrumbs help strengthen your internal linking structure
  • Breadcrumbs can help search engines see how pages are related to each other and attribute keywords to certain pages
  • Breadcrumbs can also be emphasized by schemas. While feeding extra information, Google can display breadcrumbs in the SERP, which can attract more visitors

When inserting breadcrumbs on your website, you need them however to be optimized and balanced out. AudienceBloom recommends the following path for keywords:

A link to your home page using your website’s main keyword > Your main keyword followed by a category keyword > Your main keyword with a keyword that describes the page the user is on. In clear, keep it simple and do not over-optimize your breadcrumbs with too much keywords.

How to use breadcrumbs properly?

As we said above, there are three types of breadcrumbs but not all of them perform the same way or have the same impact. You need to respect some guidelines when using breadcrumbs:

  • If your website only contains one or two categories, there is no need to use breadcrumbs
  • Optimize your breadcrumbs position by locating them in the top-left corner or below your page’ header
  • If you are using schema markup to highlight your breadcrumbs, optimize them in a way to make them more appealing for visitors
  • Do not think breadcrumbs will do the job by themselves. They cannot replace navigation toolbars, internal linking or “go back buttons”. Consider them more as an extra source of information
  • Breadcrumbs need to be “friendly” towards search engines and your users
Emma Labrador See all their articles
Emma was the Head of Communication & Marketing at Oncrawl for over seven years. She contributed articles about SEO and search engine updates.