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Website breadcrumbs are aptly named as they function the same way online as the proverbial breadcrumbs used by Hansel and Gretel. While winding your way through a very complex website, breadcrumbs track your path so that you know where you are within the website’s architecture at every point. Appearing as a small text line typically below a site’s header (or perhaps nearer the website’s footer), breadcrumbs display a user’s current location within the entirety of the website structure (and how to easily get back to root pages like the homepage). Website breadcrumbs are popular user-experience tools utilized by online retailers like Macy’s, whose websites include multiple nested pages, dropdown menus and submenus  (i.e. Home>Shop>Clothing>Mens Clothing>Shirts>Polos). To avoid situations where visitors and users of a retailers’ expansive website may find themselves lost or frustrated, the retailer uses digital breadcrumbs to reassure users by providing their current location on the site as well as the digital pathway back to the homepage. For example, a recent Google search of men’s shoes at Macy’s delivered this author to Macy’s webpage for men’s sneakers.  There, listed atop images of men’s sneakers was the breadcrumb text, “You are in:  Men>All Men’s Shoes>Sneakers & Athletic.”  The digital breadcrumb revealed my exact location within Macy’s website landscape, and it provided me figurative breadcrumbs to follow to return to the Macy’s homepage. 

(HubSpot: 9 Breadcrumb Tips to Make Your Site Easier to Navigate)

Digital breadcrumbs not only aid users in their navigation, they can also benefit the website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.  Website breadcrumbs provide a detailed digital roadmap for the entirety of an expansive website. Search engines mine these digital breadcrumbs to provide their users with more accurate and targeted search results.  Online retailers that are able to couple the use of digital breadcrumbs with the effective search keywords and phrases tend to secure higher search rankings, the goal of SEO management.

In addition to improved search rankings, digital breadcrumbs can also impact a website’s bounce rates.  In today’s online marketplace, with consumers accessing websites across multiple platforms, users rarely access a retailer from their brand’s homepage.  Rather, users typically arrive at a specific page/subpage of a website via a search engine inquiry.  For example, if one launches the above internet search for men’s shoes at Macy’s, depending upon the search engine used, the results they receive may direct them to an untold number of individual webpages for men’s dress shoes at Macy’s.  However, by way of digital breadcrumbs on those webpages, search engines are able to return more accurate and targeted results.    

Ultimately, the use of digital breadcrumbs by tends to improve a user’s overall online experience. (4 Reasons Websites Should Always Be Designed with a Good User-Experience in Mind). Users that arrive at a heavily nested website without clearly marked pathways to confirm their location typically become frustrated and bounce to another site.  Online brands that employ the use of website breadcrumbs demonstrate a commitment to a positive user-experience that users tend to honor by remaining onsite and exploring more of their content.

If you’d like to learn more about how breadcrumbs can improve the user-experience, SEO health and conversion rates on your website, call Proctor Digital at 773.664.5819. We enjoy fueling growth for our brand partners online.