breadcrumb seo

Breadcrumb SEO: What are Breadcrumbs? How Do They Affect SEO?

Is there such a thing as breadcrumb SEO?

You can create breadcrumb navigation with a few button clicks. But does this impact SEO? If so, is breadcrumb SEO worth it?

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about breadcrumb SEO. And you’ll learn how easy it is to create breadcrumbs.

What Are Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs are tiny navigational links that help orient users as they explore your website.

Because these links are clickable, users can quickly backtrack to previously visited areas.

Here’s an example from Walmart. At the top of the page, we see the “breadcrumb trail” – the path we took to get to the current page.

walmart breadcrumb navigation example
Breadcrumb links help users navigate between product pages. (For this image we enlarged the breadcrumbs to highlight them.)

Thanks to the breadcrumb trail, we can quickly return to Women’s Coats or Women’s Clothing.

Hierarchy-Based Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumbs are an excellent idea for complex e-commerce websites with nested hierarchies.

Per Google’s Matt Cutts, breadcrumbs should “accurately reflect your site’s hierarchy.”

Imagine how confusing it would be if there were a link to the automotive section in that Walmart breadcrumb trail for women’s coats.

We’ll discuss other types of breadcrumbs shortly. Our focus here is on Google’s recommended usage.

Breadcrumbs Schema Markup

To get SEO value from breadcrumbs, related HTML code should be added to each web page.

Schema markup is a type of code that transmits structured data to Google and other search engines. This code helps Google understand the elements of a web page.

As a result, that page may rank better for its target keyword and may rank for additional keywords.

breadcrumb seo serp example
Notice how the breadcrumb for Women’s Parkas appears in this Google search snippet.

We’ll discuss an easy way to add breadcrumbs to your site shortly. And this method will automatically add the schema markup code too.

But first, let’s see how breadcrumbs relate to SEO.

Breadcrumb SEO and User Experience Benefits

Breadcrumbs have both SEO and user experience benefits.

  • They can increase conversions by making it easier for users to explore a site. Higher engagement means lower bounce rates too.
  • Breadcrumb schema markup can help a web page appear in search results for a breadcrumb term.
  • Because breadcrumbs add internal links, this can help search engine crawlers understand your site structure.

Are Breadcrumbs a Ranking Factor?

No, breadcrumbs aren’t a direct ranking factor: adding them won’t automatically cause your web pages to rank higher.

However, breadcrumbs can contribute to higher rankings when combined with quality content and optimized pages.

On-page optimization should include adding rich snippets where relevant.

rich snippets ecommerce example with breadcrumb seo
Above: These eye-catching search displays below the main Walmart link are examples of rich snippets.

Now, let’s look at how to add breadcrumbs.

How to Add Breadcrumbs in WordPress

Breadcrumbs are easy to implement. An SEO plugin like All in One SEO (AIOSEO) is a popular way to add them.

Download the All in One SEO (AIOSEO) Plugin

This beginner-friendly plugin makes basic SEO tasks as easy as clicking buttons and filling out form fields.

To add breadcrumbs,

  1. Download and install All in One SEO (AIOSEO).
  2. Then, in WordPress, go to AIOSEO » General Settings » Breadcrumbs.
  3. Toggle the Enable Breadcrumbs button to on.
aioseo enable breadcrumbs

Below the Enable Breadcrumb button, you’ll see 4 different ways to add breadcrumbs to your site.

aioseo breadcrumb display options
  • Gutenberg block
  • Shortcode
  • Widget
  • PHP Code

Learn more about these different methods.

Remember: Google doesn’t care where you place the breadcrumbs. So you can use the shortcode, for example, to add them to the bottom of pages if you like.

Assigning a Primary Category

You can also have a blog post category or product category added to the breadcrumb trail. Wonder how this works if you assign more than 1 category to a web page?

All in One SEO (AIOSEO) allows you to choose a Primary Category to display in the breadcrumb trail. To learn more about this, read our tutorial.

Breadcrumb Schema Markup

AIOSEO automatically adds breadcrumb markup to your pages. So there’s no action needed on your part other than installing the plugin.

aioseo homepage

All in One SEO is an established plugin with thousands of 5-star reviews on WordPress.org. Currently, over 3 million site owners are using the plugin.

In addition to the breadcrumb generator, this plugin provides everything you need for site-wide and on-page optimization.

Optional Breadcrumb Settings

All in One SEO’s default options work well for breadcrumbs. But you can alter these settings. For example, you can

  • Omit the homepage from breadcrumb trails.
  • Include or omit the current page title.
  • Choose one of several separator styles.

Different Types of Breadcrumbs

We mentioned earlier that Google recommends hierarchy-based breadcrumbs. But it’s helpful to know there are other types of breadcrumbs.

History-Based Breadcrumbs

These breadcrumbs, also called path-based breadcrumbs, simply list the last pages you visited. As you can imagine, these types of breadcrumbs can be confusing to users.

Attribute-based Breadcrumbs

Attributes refer to product attributes like color or size. Sometimes these are used on e-commerce sites in combination with hierarchy-based breadcrumbs.

Q&A on Breadcrumb SEO

What can I do besides adding breadcrumbs to improve my SEO?

Besides adding breadcrumbs, you can turn your pages into rich snippets so they attract more click-throughs. And be sure to use the All in One SEO (AIOSEO) on-page recommendations to improve your SEO.

Is there a way I can add breadcrumbs to all my pages at once?

Yes, in All in One SEO (AIOSEO) you can use the PHP option to add breadcrumbs to all of your pages at once. No coding knowledge is needed to do this. You’ll click some buttons and do a copy/paste. Follow these instructions.

Bonus Tips

Breadcrumb links are typically tiny. WordPress themes control the styling (color, size) of breadcrumb links. When planning a new web design or choosing a theme, ensure these links are easy to use on mobile devices.

Looking for other breadcrumb options? Besides All in One SEO (AIOSEO), other options for WordPress users include:

  • WordPress themes that include breadcrumbs
  • E-commerce plugins like WooCommerce typically include breadcrumbs
  • Other SEO plugins like Yoast SEO.

And lastly, readers who are interested in code can explore the properties of Schema.org’s BreadcrumbList here.

What’s Next?

We hope this post helped you understand breadcrumb navigation and how it benefits SEO and usability.

Next, learn how to add an HTML sitemap to your site. Explore our DIY SEO projects for beginners. Learn the ABCs of lead generation. And check out these digital marketing hacks.

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author avatar
Sherrie Gossett Content Writer
Sherrie is an SEO nerd based in New Hampshire in the United States. When she’s not busy researching, implementing, and writing about new SEO developments, she can be found hiking and playing guitar.

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