Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SEO with Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumb navigation shows the user's path to their current location, and should be located at the top of the page.

Breadcrumb navigation is wonderful for both usability and for SEO. This text-based navigation shows where in the site hierarchy the currently viewed web page is located and your location within the site, while providing shortcuts to instantly jump higher up the site hierarchy.

Example from Google's Webmaster section:

Google Help > Help Center Home > My site and Google > Creating a Google-friendly site > Working with AJAX-enhanced sites

If the breadcrumb contains text links with relevant keywords in the anchor text, that is a significant SEO benefit. The anchor text provides the search engines with an important, contextual clue as to the topic of the linked page. That equates to improved rankings.

One throwaway phrase that’s used almost universally within breadcrumbs is “home.” Try revising that link to something more search-optimal version of the anchor text with words like “computing” or “IT” or “technology” along with perhaps “store” or “products” that is site relevant.

You should also consider the amplifying effect of breadcrumb navigation. A link in the breadcrumb will be “voted for” more times if that linked page is higher up in the site hierarchy and if there are more pages underneath that page in the hierarchy. A supercategory page receives more internal links than a subcategory page. A category page covering hundreds of products will receive more internal links than one with only a dozen products in the category.

Breadcrumb Separator (for Horizontal Breadcrumbs)

Here is a summary of what designers tend to use as separators:

67% Right Arrow
10% Pipe
9% Colon
5% Slash
3% Left Arrow
3% Bullet
3% Text Treatment

Orientation of Breadcrumbs

95% Horizontal
5% Vertical