Search Engine Optimization Tip: Add a Breadcrumb Trail

This is only one seo tip out of many search engine optimization tips I have been providing over the years. All of my search engine optimization tips are meant to be specific, they should not take too much time to implement, and are meant to be directly to the point.

For this search engine optimization tip, let’s talk about adding a breadcrumb trail to your site’s navigation. A breadcrumb trail, put simply, is a set of links on your page that lets users get back to where they came from–or go to pages that are ‘higher’ in the architecture of your site. For more information about what exactly breadcrumb trail navigation is, take a look here or here. Let’s look at an example.

On many websites, a breadcrumb trail is added below the navigation. Typically, they are simply text links to other pages that are higher in the overall link structure of the website. Typically, there is a link to the home page and then there is a link to the category page, and then there are words (which isn not a link), the name of the page you are currently on. Note that in breadcrumb trail navigation you do not link to the page you’re on. Here is what it would look like:

Home Page > Category > Current Page

Why Add a Breadcrumb Trail?
You’re probably wondering why it is important to add a breadcrumb trail to your site. There are several reasons I can think of right off the bat. The first reason is that it’s helpful for your visitors; whatever helps them will help them stay on your site longer. And since some search engines are now watching how long your visitors stay on your web site, it’s increasingly important to do whatever you can to help them navigate your site. After all, if someone is blind and they come to your site they they won’t see your images: if you use image navigation only then it will be difficult for blind people to navigate your web site. By the way, did I mention that search engines don’t ‘see’ images also? Having a regular text link will help the search engines ‘figure out’ what the page you’re linking to is ‘about’.

That brings me to the next reason why a breadcrumb trail is important to add to your web site:

Adding a breadcrumb trial to your site allows you to add in anchor text links which use the anchor text that you really want to use–without making it completely obvious that you are wanting to rank for a certain keyword phrase. To put it another way, if you are wanting to get a web page on your site to rank well for ‘red widgets’ then a breadcrumb trail will allow you to add another text link on your site that says ‘red widgets’ that points to your ‘red widgets’ category page.

Another reason why adding a breadcrumb trail to your site is that your text link will link to other pages that are on-topic. For example, if someone is on your ‘red widget wheels’ page then that page could link to your ‘red widgets’ page (assuming that one of your categories is ‘red widgets’). This would then keep the ‘theme’ of ‘red widgets’. Let’s take a look at an example of this:

Home Page

Widgets
Red Widgets
Red Widget Wheels
Red Widget Lights
Red Widget Bumpers

Blue Widgets
Blue Widget Wheels
Blue Widget Lights
Blue Widget Bumpers

If that is the sample navigational structure of your site, then your ‘blue widget wheels’, your ‘blue widget lights’, and your ‘blue widget bumpers’ web pages would link to your ‘blue widgets’ page and to your ‘widgets’ page and to your site’s home page. And then your ‘blue widgets’ page would link to your ‘widgets’ page and to your home page. It’s this type of linking, which include highly-relevant keyword phrases, that helps both the ‘blue widgets’ and the ‘widgets’ page rank well for their keyword phrases (blue widgets’ and ‘widgets’).

So, take a look at your web site and see if you have breadcrumb trail navigation at the top center of your site (typically put below your site’s navigation). If you’re not using this type of navigation, adding it will boost your site’s search engine rankings. If you do have it, review your breadcrumb trail navigation to make sure that you’re using it correctly; and make sure that you’re including your most important keyword phrases.