How To Silo Your Website: The Breadcrumb Trail

In Part 1 we looked at How To Silo Your Website: The Masthead. In this article, we’ll be taking the next step and looking at the breadcrumb.

Adding extra layers to crawl through never works to your advantage … ever …

For those of you who don’t know, the breadcrumb is the small text usually found under the title on the page (not the HTML title). The breadcrumb shows where you are in the website hierarchy AND (this is the important part) it is hyperlinked to pass internal anchor text. I can’t stress enough how important it is that the words be linked.

With the exception of things like your customer service, privacy, and contact us pages, all of the pages should be under the main sections of the masthead we talked about previously. Unless you are going to have more than 150 pages in each section, don’t add an extra level. Yes, I know Google says 100 links, but you can easily stretch to 150 without much need for concern.

As an example: hotels in Disney World are divided up by which park they are closest to. So there are Magic Kingdom Hotels, Epcot Hotels, and so on. Resist the temptation to add an extra layer or crawling point (at least in the architecture–we’ll talk about the bread crumb in a minute).

Users are going to be likely to look at hotels based on which park they are associated with, so you will need a “Magic Kingdom Hotels” page. From an information architecture standpoint, however, you don’t need the extra layer. This really requires that you understand the topic. You want break things up for usability, but you want to design your architecture as flat as possible for the search engines to crawl. Adding extra layers to crawl through never works to your advantage … ever.

When linking to the home page many websites use the word “home” as a link to the homepage. You can do that but, if you do, you are missing the opportunity to focus a little more internal anchor text. Instead use an icon of a “home” and do an image replacement using the site name as anchor text. I have seen people use their primary keyword: use this with caution as it is a risky technique. The more the anchor text differs from the site name, the greater the risk.

When you are building the breadcrumb use the exact anchor text you are using in the masthead. The more it varies the less effective the technique will be. So ideally this is what you would want:

> Disney World Hotel Reviews > Magic Kingdom Hotels > Contemporary Resort Review

> Disney Vacations > Disney Vacation Promotional Codes

> Disney Information > Best Time to Visit Disney World

So what are the the takeaways here:

  • Use breadcrumbs. Make sure they are hyperlinked and use internal anchor text to your advantage.
  • Use the image replacement technique for linking to your homepage.
  • Use a flat site architecture. Don’t add extra crawling layers.

That’s it. Once this is in place, you are telling Google what the important parts of your site are and using your internal anchor text to tell them what it’s about. Next in this series: How To Silo Your Website: The Content.
photo credit: ginnerobot

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