Ants to honey? The role of breadcrumbs in marketing

Ants to honey? The role of breadcrumbs in marketing


The bigger a site gets; the more difficult navigation becomes. There are ways to ensure that prospects and customers find their way back to where they started or where they want to go. And those principles can help drive conversion in the long run.

The ‘Back’ button is still one of the most used methods to go back to the previous page. However, it only gets people back to where they started. If there were ways in which they could drill down into content, or find connections within a website, stickiness increases. If they come back time and again to access content, it pushes up the ranking and the authority over time. It’s a signal that cannot be faked. Bots can appear at random but only real readers end up spending time on a site. In today’s world, it’s the metric that sites live by – the more the stickiness, the higher the revenue.

Breadcrumbs are what search engines love

While they’re usually at the top of the website and just under the navigation bar, they’re signposts of how deep readers go within a website.

Search engines like Google prioritize it because it flows directly from the indices and helps chart a course through the content on the website. It also helps to mark ‘levels’ within.

Organising content well within a website helps search engines ‘see’ the content better and serve it to interested audiences

How do you know how deep you are within a website? In simple sites, there’s no problem. If the content is just a level or two below the main menu, navigation is easy. The problem crops up when content gets complex, with several hundred pages to classify and index.

That’s when breadcrumbs come to the rescue. They chart the route by which a visitor came to a particular page. Like travelling within the woods on a trek, leaving traces behind helps find the way back. The principle is the same but here, it also shows how visitors navigate content clusters within. And those content clusters help to determine what they’re interested in.

There are government and college websites that have several layers of content. One of the trends in content marketing is how deep people go within a particular subject or topic. 

For example, the sites that first started writing about SEO gathered an audience a couple of decades ago. As they continued to explore it over the years, their authority and trust in the methods they advocated grew. And each generation of digital marketing newbies and even experienced practitioners go there either to learn some less-explored methods, or to find out what’s new in the search engine world.


Build structure into the website

While design remains one of the main focus areas for websites, structure is even more important, especially when the site grows and attracts a following. At that point, trying to organise content and changing URLs will actually work against the brand. It’s best to have a clear structure for organising content within and follow them right down to the smallest detail.

When a website grows from around 10 pages to a 100 pages or thousands of pages over time, it should not be a random process. But in many cases, there are websites where the structure is haphazard and classified wrongly.

Structure may not be visible to visitors and that’s fine as long as they are able to find what they are looking for

For site owners, drilling down to the 'Enhancements' section in the Search Console shows them how well-structured data has been implemented. The Breadcrumbs report will show the sets that have been correctly and incorrectly implemented. It also shows warnings where things need to be set right.

This is an area that deserves attention because it may not be easy to do but has implications for how customers and search engines see the site.

Google Search Console will point out the errors, but they need to be fixed, or else the problems will persist

HubSpot makes it easy

HubSpot makes it easy to create depth within the site and to classify things right. Here’s the page that will help to create a set of levels. Just be sure that you start at the top and then progress to the smaller sets of information. That will ensure that visitors will see it the same way and the CMS will also guide them along the path that has been set.

Think of it as a company hierarchy or organisation chart. At the top are the people in charge overall. When the functions and activities are distributed right down the line, the overall way in which the company is structured comes into view.

New call-to-action

We may talk of ‘flat’ organisations today but separating functions from designations is still essential. That’s precisely why it is necessary to get it implemented on a website according to a detailed drill down, rather that create large numbers of parallel topics and then confuse visitors.

The GE site provides a good example of how a large set of information is structured around the various businesses that GE is into. Structuring a business that operated worldwide in multiple sectors is a major task but it is easy to go to the main site, drill down to the businesses the company is in and then find your way to Additives or Aviation, or any of the others. It is a complex structure, but then there aren’t too many conglomerates who have a problem with flowing content into several large streams.

As a marketer, this is one of the ways in which site content can be well-organised. HubSpot CMS will take over after that and guide customers through their journey within, serving up a set of content deeper down the pipeline.

Talk to our consultants and we’ll be happy to help you get those thousands of pages on track and then get traction.

Let's Connect


About The Author

Venu Gopal Nair
Venu Gopal Nair

Advertising and Branding Specialist, CEO - Ideascape Communications, A professional journey through the tumultuous years of advertising and communication, starting in 1984. Started out in the age of print, saw the changes with the entry of satellite TV and the momentous transition to digital. Advertising and branding today is vastly different from its practices in the 20th century and the last two decades have seen dramatic changes with smartphone domination. As a Creative Director turned CEO, making the transition personally and professionally has been a tremendous experience.

Post By Tag