Structured Data : The Breadcrumb Markup

  • August 12, 2020
  • Nirlep Patel
  • 5 min read

PRO TIP: The Term Breadcrumb was inspired from the all-time favorite classic story Hansel & Gretel where the brother-sister duo dropped breadcrumbs that formed a trail back to their home.

Breadcrumbs are secondary navigational easers that help users know which part of the website they are on. They are signboards specifying the user’s exact location on the website, for example: If you search for “The Best Places to Eat In Mumbai”, you will be bombarded with an insane amount of search engine results and will also notice the breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are the little pop-ups above the main link of the website. If you click on website for knowing the best places to eat, then the breadcrumbs would be right above the website link in grey and look like:>Mumbai>Food & Drink.

 These trails promote site hierarchy as they connect lower and higher pages of a website together and help users understand which page they are on and  connections between the pages.

What are the different types of breadcrumbs used for structuring data?

  1. Hierarchy or Location-Based Breadcrumbs:

This breadcrumb trail helps users in the understanding of site hierarchy. All websites follow site hierarchy which helps in connecting lower pages of a website to the higher pages. Simply put, these breadcrumbs tell you the page you are and show you the way back to the homepage.
Example: Home>Category>Electronic Products>Laptops.

  1. Attribute-Based Breadcrumbs:

Used for structuring E-commerce websites, these breadcrumbs state the attributes of a product and help make the shopping experience quick and hassle-free. Every attribute is clickable that the user can click on one or too many attributes. The attributes are usually on the left-hand column of the website and contain various clickable boxes like Colour, Size, etc.

  1. History or Path-Based Breadcrumbs:

   These breadcrumbs help users go back to the previous page that they were on. The users have to click on the “back results “ button to go back to the previous page of the website.

What are the various breadcrumb properties used for data structuring?

For structuring data using breadcrumbs, it is crucial to define every property related to it.
We first have to define the BreadcrumbsList that is a list containing all breadcrumb properties. Every list must contain a minimum of two ListItems.The BreadcrumList properties include:

  1. itemlistElement: it is an arrangement of breadcrumbs listed in a specific order.

Properties Related To List Items:

  1. item: contains to sub-properties: URL and thing. The URL states the URL of the webpage representing the breadcrumb and thing is the id which is used for URL specifications and depends on the markup used for data structuring. It can either be json-ld, microdata or RDFa.
  2. name: the breadcrumb title which the user sees. It is not required when using a Thing with a name instead of a URL.
  3. position: The breadcrumb’s position in the trail. Example: First Position, Second Position, etc.

Why should I use breadcrumbs for my website?

  1. SEO related importance:

 Breadcrumbs are proven to have an impact on the SEO rankings of a website. They help to organize the website data systematically and make it easy to understand leading to better website experience among users. Further, they are useful for search engine bots during the crawling and indexing phase as crawlers use the breadcrumb structure for collecting information on the website or web page. Also, Google displays breadcrumbs as SERPS, appropriate keywords can be used for making an SEO positive breadcrumb trail. It not only has an impact on the keyword density of a website but also makes your website go up on SERPs.

  1. Increases website Findability:

       With the help of breadcrumbs, users can find websites faster. If I Google search for “Flipkart women fashion” intending to buy clothes, then the first result to pop up would be of a website 

Having a breadcrumb trail. That would make looking for clothes on a website easier for me as I can find various kinds, colours of clothes just by a click.

  1. User-Oriented Tool:

Breadcrumbs are user-oriented tools as they simplify the process of website navigation for them. Especially in this fast-paced world where multitasking is everything. These trails make the e-commerce process extremely easy as the user knows what subpage they are on and can search for multiple products at one time. That also helps users have an anxiety-free experience.

  1. Minimal Space Requirements:

A breadcrumb trail on a website occupies minimal space and can be used either as a single breadcrumb trail or a multiple breadcrumb trail.

PRO TIP: Single page websites do not require breadcrumbs!

How can I create a good SEO friendly breadcrumb trail?

  1. The breadcrumb must be situated correctly:

Always place the breadcrumb trail below the primary navigation and above the fold. Placing the breadcrumbs at the footer of a website or web page will make it useless and lower its value.It is therefore advisable to place the breadcrumb trail above the fold and above the website link.

  1.  Use correct character symbol variation:

The primary character symbol used for trail generation is the greater than or the right-hand bracket symbol sign ‘ >’. Apart from this other symbols like the slash ‘/’ and the pipe ‘|’ are used. Using any other symbol apart from these will ruin your breadcrumb trail SEO optimization.

  1. Short and Small Breadcrumb Trail:

The trails have to be short and simple. Ideally, a trial should include the target keywords and should not be more than a one-word keyword. Further, sentences should not make up the trail as this will not only take up space but also confuse the users.

  1. Secondary Navigation:

The breadcrumb has to be the secondary navigation tool for websites. It should never be generated as a primary navigation tool as doing so will have a negative SEO impact and ruin website data structure. Never experiment with breadcrumbs positions.

  1. Sitemap creation:

For creating perfect breadcrumb trails it is important to generate a sitemap of websites. A sitemap is like a road map which states that it contains all website information in an organized manner. Creating visual sitemaps is advisable. Creating breadcrumbs without a sitemap of the website will not only confuse you but also the users and Google.

6  Choose Correct Keywords:

Since Seo and Keywords have a positive link, the website must have correct keywords and consistent keywords. Following this practice will not only be beneficial for keyword consistency but also increase SEO optimization.

7.Avoid interlining the current page to itself:

This is an advisable practice to be followed while using breadcrumb. Linking the current page to itself is useless and time-wasting as by clicking on it the user will come back to the same page. This might irritate users, especially users who multitask and they might come out of your website.

PRO TIP: You can use Google’s Performance Report for analyzing search engine traffic for improving your breadcrumb trails or other structured data related elements.

Just like Hansel & Gretel dropped breadcrumbs on the path for finding their wack home, similarly, digital breadcrumbs are a path which helps us navigate our way on websites and go back to the website’s homepage. They are our digital guide that makes website navigation simplified and easy. The process of data structuring of breadcrumbs, testing it for rich results and fixing troubleshooting problems is similar to the previously mentioned data structure entities. In the next post, I will talk about Carousel Structured Data.

Nirlep Patel
I am an internet entrepreneur and also the Co-Founder of GBIM Technologies, India’s fastest growing internet marketing company. My forte lies in actively lending technical expertise in Search Engine Optimisation, SEM Google AdWords, SMM. Spanning about 14 years of focus on Digital Marketing, GBIM today has become one of the greatest digital marketing company. This could have been possible only because of the trust which our clients have on us, and the quality services we have delivered to them I have always believed that more is lost from indecision than wrong decisions and as a result, we have managed to create an environment where people are encouraged to challenge process and innovate. This culture has cultivated a highly motivated team with an open approach where anyone can share their thoughts and ideas freely.
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