What Are Breadcrumbs, And Why Do You Need Them?

Submitted by Deanna on Thu, 11/15/2018 - 12:24

Most law firms today invest time in search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is one of the best ways to increase your caseload without paying the sky-high prices of legal keywords on Google AdWords. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of factors that go into determining which law firms rank well on Google. One factor you may not have considered is the site structure of your website and whether you use breadcrumbs.

What Are Breadcrumbs?

A breadcrumb is navigation that shows users where they are on your firm’s website. As you may have guessed, the term “breadcrumbs” comes from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale in which children leave breadcrumbs in the forest to help them find their way back home. Breadcrumbs display as a series of clickable terms that can help navigate back to related pages on your website. For example, breadcrumbs on a Social Security attorney’s website may be displayed as:

Home – Disabling Conditions – Cancer and Disability Benefits – Lung Cancer and Disability Benefits

Each breadcrumb will bring the user to a different page. If someone landed on your lung cancer page, he or she could easily review all of your pages on cancer and disability by clicking on “Cancer” in the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page.

How Do Breadcrumbs Help?

Breadcrumbs are great for two reasons. First, it helps users navigate your website. Instead of having to click the “back” button or delete part of a page’s URL, they can simply click on a related article via your breadcrumbs. A breadcrumb helps users figure out where they are on your website, and where they should navigate next when they’re ready to take the next step and reach out to your firm.

Breadcrumbs are also important when Google and other search engines try to understand your site’s structure. Without breadcrumbs, Google may not know which pages are related to one another. If you’re trying to build a legal website that proves you’re an expert in auto accident personal injury cases, breadcrumbs can outline how your content is related to one another to Google, meaning that more of your auto accident pages should rank better on search engine result pages.

Breadcrumb Best Practices

There are a few best practices to keep in mind when using breadcrumb navigation. The first is that you’ll want each “crumb” to be indicative of the content it’ll navigate to. For example, a breadcrumb that’s labeled as “Working With a Lawyer” would make more sense than simply “lawyer.”

You also want to have some kind of separation between your breadcrumbs so users don’t become confused. One of the most commonly-used breadcrumb separator is the greater than symbol (>). You can also use dashes, arrows, or slashes. Just be sure to pick something that’ll work with your audience. Social Security disability applicants may not be able to distinguish separate URLs if you simply use a dash, so the greater than symbol could be more relevant for your firm.

Most web platform services have an easy plug-in or instillation option for breadcrumbs. You can also speak with your web development team on how to implement them on your site. When you have breadcrumbs, not only will your site’s user engagement increase, but you may rank better on Google as well!