Why You Should Avoid Using Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are a way of driving visitors to pages within your mobile website. Many of these visitors are likely to be potential customers. In some cases, you can use them to entice other visitors to your site too, such as when you offer competitions or ask a reader to opt-in to receive news updates or newsletters. But for most sites – perhaps including yours – breadcrumbs provide the main link to the page that you want visitors to land on.
This means that if you want your site to appear in order of relevance on a Google search, you have to use breadcrumbs. This is something that Google actually encourages you to do, as part of their efforts to provide relevant results for their search terms. You see, each page of your site is linked to the home page, and each of your pages will therefore link to the next level of your site. Google does this across their entire site – it’s called ‘site navigation’ – and because this link structure makes each page link to the next by being the most natural order, Google believes that it makes sense for users to click on the links that make up the most logical and shortest path between all the pages of your site. Because it’s the most natural way to arrange the links, Google will prioritise these links when they are scanning the results of a search term.
So how can you use breadcrumbs to improve your site map? The first step is to think about what text you’re going to put into the sidebars of each of the web pages on your site. There are two ways to add text to these two areas – either using plain text, or using some kind of formatting tool such as font formatting, bolding, italics, or quotation marks. If you intend to use bolding and italics, for example, it’s a good idea to use the actual text from the page you want to draw people to, as this will look more professional and more clearly express your purposes. And, if you’re putting text onto a background, such as a site map, then it’s a good idea to use the same text on that background as you’d normally use for the top of the site map.
The links you make on the site map in the sidebars of each page should be directed towards your main site. If you’re only interested in one part of your site, you could list the most important pages here, but if you want everyone to go to the home page, then you would instead direct them towards the home page of your site. This is just an example – you can direct people to whatever you want from your site, as long as the links make sense from a usability perspective.
Breadcrumbs are very useful from a search engine optimization standpoint – they tell the search engine where your website is, which helps it to determine where to position your listing. If you list your site with a lot of search engine-optimized keywords, then you should get an immediate SEO boost from this. However, if you’re simply trying to gain popularity with search engines and attract new visitors, then breadcrumbs are completely useless. You don’t want to spend days or weeks trying to get more of the search engines to list your site because you think they’ll like your breadcrumbs. They won’t because it’s not in their interest to do so.
Another issue is compatibility. With most search engines, they’ll list sites in a way that’s different to how they list individual pages. They’ll group all the pages of a site together under the umbrella of the same domain, for example. In that case, you don’t want to have links on the left side of the site (the “home” page) that points to another site, or vice versa (the “search” page). Rather than having links on the site’s left-hand side, have links going from each individual page to the homepage.
Breadcrumbs also confuse users, especially those coming to your site for the first time. If you have two versions of your website, one with the breadcrumbs and one without, you’ll see a lot of confusion about where to find what you need. Search engines will label them as being related to each other, but that’s really not the case. It’s best just to stick to one version of your site for the sake of your visitors and your search engine’s spiders. Also, keep in mind that the links on the breadcrumbs aren’t actually linked to any pages on your site, they’re just there to position everything else on the page in a more organized way.
Finally, breadcrumbs can break the SEO continuity between pages. If you have a site map on every single page and you put all your content into a couple of containers, you have a problem. The search engine spiders will take all of the content from the left navigation and put it into a container labeled “other.” If you don’t have a good site map design, this will cause all of your content to be placed into a container that Google and other engines will label as “other.” This means that you’ll get a lower ranking from the search engines and from your customers.