Don’t Lose Your Site Visitors in the Labyrinth

Don’t Lose Your Site Visitors in the Labyrinth

If you’re running a large WordPress site with a complex page structure, it’s all too easy for your visitors to get lost in the maze.

Use a breadcrumb on your WordPress site
Is this your website?

Improve your WordPress site navigationAsk yourself honestly – how easy is it to navigate your site?

If someone arrives at your site for the first time, whether via the homepage or any other page, can they quickly get from A to B to C and find what they need?

Or will they disappear into a swamp of cluttered menus, endless subdirectories and broken links that lead nowhere?

Now might be a good time to have a look over your WordPress site for any lingering navigation issues that could be costing you visitors.

Navigation matters immensely to a successful website

Make your website easier to navigateThe Internet has reduced the average human attention span to about half a second. The modern web user is a fickle creature who makes snap judgements and rarely gives anyone a second chance.

The minute that a visitor to your site feels frustrated, confused or overwhelmed, they’re liable to close that tab and never ever come back.

So if you want to hang on to that precious web traffic and keep your site visitors engaged, everything needs to work smoothly. Navigating your site needs to be simple, intuitive and very fast.

Improve your site navigation with a breadcrumb

Adding a ‘breadcrumb’ navigation menu is a simple way to improve the user experience of your website. A breadcrumb is a horizontal text menu – usually positioned at the top or bottom of a web page – that shows the user where they are within the site’s hierarchical structure.

You see breadcrumbs on the web all the time – these are a few examples:

Use breadcrumbs for better WordPress navigation

A breadcrumb allows the site visitor to follow their trail and see how they arrived at the current page. They can then hop between the different hierarchical levels of your site, without having to use the ‘back’ button on their browser or go via your homepage.

The breadcrumb shows visitors exactly where they are in your site, how they got there, and how to get somewhere else.

Breadcrumb on WordPress site
The breadcrumb - kinda like a GPS for your website

Note that a breadcrumb isn’t intended to replace your main nav menu. If your WordPress site has a flat hierarchy and a smaller number of pages, using a breadcrumb isn’t really necessary, and may actually be more of a hindrance than a help.

But the deeper and more complex your site gets, the more important a secondary navigation system becomes.

An example scenario

Breadcrumbs for better e-commerce navigationImagine that you run an e-commerce website on WordPress, selling all different kinds of clothing. You stock a huge range of merchandise and you’re adding new pages to your site all the time.

The hierarchical architecture of your website might look something like this:

Level 1: Your Homepage.

Level 2: Your product category pages. T-shirts, hats, jeans etc.

Level 3: Individual product pages.

Level 4: Sub pages for specific styles, colors and sizes of each product.

If I come to your homepage searching for a particular item of clothing, I will travel down through these four levels to find what I’m looking for.

If you use a breadcrumb on your website it would probably look something like this:

You are here: Home > Hats > Mexican Sombrero > Psychedelic Pink

I’ve arrived at the Psychedelic Pink Sombrero page, but decided that this isn’t the hat I’m looking for. On second thoughts, I don’t want a sombrero at all. I want one of those Russian fur hats.

Using breadcrumbs on WordPress

Thanks to the breadcrumb, I can jump straight from where I am now to the ‘Hats’ category page, without having to return to the homepage or backtrack through all the pages I’ve previously visited.

Improve your WordPress navigation with a breadcrumb

This saves me several clicks of the mouse and a good four or five seconds of my precious time. I feel satisfied with my experience on your website and continue to buy clothes from you for many years.

A breadcrumb can help with SEO

Adding a breadcrumb to your WordPress site gives you an extra opportunity to internally link your pages, which can help to boost your search rankings.

A good navigation structure on your website is important for search bots as well as humans. If adding a breadcrumb makes your site easier for your visitors, it will also make it easier for Google spiders to search and index your content.

These days, it’s also possible that Google will display your breadcrumb in SERPs (search engine results pages). You can see an example of this here:

Display your breadcrumb in Google SERPs

This is a nice little bonus – instead of getting one link to your website in the search results, you’ve now got three or four.

Getting your breadcrumb displayed in SERPs gives people one-click access to every hierarchical level of your website, which can greatly improve your click-through rate.

In this video Matt Cutts offers some tips on getting your breadcrumb displayed in Google search results:

Adding a breadcrumb to your WordPress site

A breadcrumb is just a series of HTML links between the pages of your site. With some very basic coding knowledge you can add a breadcrumb to your WordPress site manually.

If you want to create your breadcrumb with even less effort, there are a tonne of free plugins available. Just search the WordPress plugin directory.

Over to you. Do you have any tips or ideas for using breadcrumbs successfully on a WordPress site?

Thanks to Jake Krohn, JC Goforth, NZ Dave, Erik So, Purple Mattfish, Geoffrey Gilson and Marcel Germain for the photos.