Breadcrumbs: Google's Favourite Ingredient

hansel and gretel and the breadcrumbs cropped

As a search-led web design team, we often have quick training sessions on the best practices for web design for SEO from our hairy leader James Welch. The lesson this week was about the importance of breadcrumbs. 

What’s a breadcrumb? 

A breadcrumb is a “trail” or secondary navigation that is displayed at the top of the website page which shows the user their location within the website. It shows them the journey they have taken through the website to get to that page, and helps them see which higher-level categories are associated with the page they are currently on.

Imagine Hansel and Gretel sprinkling the breadcrumbs behind them on their journey through the woods to help them to trace their way back home…

hansel and gretel and the breadcrumbs

It didn’t work out that well for Hansel & Gretel, but it does work well for some other well-known names such as Amazon, eBay & ASOS

For example, the breadcrumb for this page is Home > What We Think > Breadcrumbs: Google’s Favourite Ingredient. 

the breadcrumb for this page

The user can land on this page and see where they are on the site. It is especially helpful for big eCommerce sites where there are numerous different categories and subcategories, but should also be included on any website with over 20 pages. 

Why is a breadcrumb important for SEO? 

Imagine walking into a library or a book show and having all of the signs and labels removed. You could go and pick up a book from a shelf and eventually, you’d be able to work out which section you’re in, but it would take you a good while, you’d be pretty confused, and it would be rather frustrating.

Now think of Google as a Librarian, constantly categorising all of the content on your website. If you make it easy for the librarian, submitting your content in well-organised categories, the librarian will like you much more. I’m simplifying for dramatic effect, and I will continue to do so…

Let’s say the Grimm brothers are on a book tour. Librarians are going to be much more likely to stock their potential best-seller when Jacob & Wilhelm rock up and say, hey, this is our sweet new book. It’s Fiction, it’s for Children, and it’s a Fairytale.

Home > Fiction > Children’s > Fairytales > Grimm Brothers 

It’s probably why they are household names today, as opposed to all those writers who didn’t quite make it. It’s nothing to do with their great stories or even their excellent taste in hats.  

grimm brothers

“Does this Fez make me look fat, Wilhelm?”


Their success is all to do with how easy they made it for the librarians.

So, let’s replicate their success! All of our web designs will be including a breadcrumb from now on, and we will be adding breadcrumbs to the majority of our clients websites over the next few months.