Breadcrumb-Navigation: The Guide on Websites

Breadcrumb navigation is an essential, often underestimated element of web design that is of great importance for both users and search engines. This navigation tool, which subtly reflects the structure and hierarchy of a website, has profound effects on the user experience and search engine optimization (SEO).

The duality of the breadcrumb navigation

For search engines: Breadcrumbs are a central signal element for search engine crawlers and bots. They make it easier for these automated systems to understand and interpret the structural arrangement and hierarchy of a website. The clear representation of the path that a user can take within the website helps search engines better understand the relevance and context of the content. By correctly and completely marking the breadcrumbs with structured data such as, JSON-LD or RDFa, the recognizability and processing by search engines is significantly improved, which can directly contribute to better visibility and a higher ranking of the website.

For Users: On the user side, breadcrumbs provide a clear and direct guidance, indicating where the visitor is currently located and what the traversed path within the website looks like. This function is particularly advantageous on complex or extensive websites, as it helps users maintain their orientation and navigate efficiently. Although often viewed as a secondary tool, breadcrumbs can significantly enhance the user experience by allowing a simple return to parent pages without having to use the browser’s “Back” button.

Optimization of breadcrumb navigation for mobile devices

The integration of breadcrumb navigation into mobile websites presents a particular challenge, as the available space is limited and readability must be ensured. An effective method to make the breadcrumbs user-friendly on mobile devices is to reduce it to the essential levels. Instead of displaying the entire navigation path, the display can be limited to the current and the immediately superior level. This compact view avoids overload while still maintaining the functionality of the breadcrumbs, by providing the user with the position display and basic navigation options.

In some cases, especially with websites that have a clear and short hierarchy, it may be useful to keep the full breadcrumb navigation on mobile devices. This is particularly true for e-commerce websites, where users may want to precisely track which level of a product catalog they are on.

Best Practices for Designing Breadcrumbs

  1. Clarity and Consistency: Breadcrumbs should be used consistently across the entire website. Every entry in the breadcrumb bar should be clearly understandable and directly clickable.
  2. Structured Data: The integration of structured data helps search engines to interpret and utilize the breadcrumb navigation more effectively, which improves the SEO performance.
  3. Mobile Optimization: The breadcrumb navigation should be designed on mobile devices in such a way that it remains easily readable and user-friendly even on small screens.
  4. Visual Simplicity: The breadcrumbs should be visually unobtrusive and not compete with the main navigation of the page.


Breadcrumb navigation may seem inconspicuous at first glance, but its role in improving SEO and user guidance cannot be overestimated. Through the intelligent implementation and optimization of this navigation tool, web developers and SEO experts can significantly improve the user experience while simultaneously helping their pages to be better understood and rated by search engines.