What are breadcrumbs? Why are they important for SEO?

What are breadcrumbs? Why are they important for SEO? • Yoast

Edwin Toonen

Edwin is a strategic content specialist. Before joining Yoast, he spent years honing his skill at The Netherlands’ leading web design magazine.

Breadcrumbs are an important part of almost every good website. These little navigational aids don’t just tell people where they are on your site, but they also help Google work out how your site is structured. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to add these helpful little pointers. Let’s take a look at how breadcrumb navigation works.

What are breadcrumbs?

A breadcrumb is a small text path, often located at the top of a page indicating where the user is on the site. On yoast.com, for instance, the path to our Yoast SEO plugin page is Home > WordPress Plugins > Yoast SEO for WordPress. This breadcrumb trail immediately shows you where you are. Every step of that path is clickable, all the way back to the homepage.

But why is this navigational help called a breadcrumb? When Hansel and Gretel went into the woods, Hansel dropped pieces of bread onto the ground so they could find their way home if they got lost. These breadcrumbs eventually became the model for the breadcrumbs we see on websites these days.

You can see the breadcrumb clearly in Google

Breadcrumbs also appear in Google search results, and you can take advantage of this if you use Yoast SEO or add the correct form of structured data to your site. Breadcrumbs in search results give users an easy-to-understand overview of where the page sits on your site. Yoast SEO automatically adds the necessary structured data — a BreadcrumbList — in JSON-LD format for you. Just flip the switch in the settings and you’ll see the relevant lines appear in your source code — although, sometimes, you need to add a small piece of code to your theme as well. Find out more on our breadcrumb structured data in our documentation.

Different types of breadcrumbs

You may have noticed that there are different types of breadcrumbs. These are the three most common ones:

Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs

These are the most common and it’s how we use breadcrumbs on our site. Breadcrumbs like this tell you where you are in a site structure and how many steps there are to get back to the homepage. Something like Home > Blog > Category > Post name.

breadcrumbs hierarchy

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This article was written by Edwin Toonen and originally published on Yoast • SEO for everyone.

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