Have you ever heard a detective or policeman say that they’re searching for breadcrumbs that will lead them to the culprit? This would indicate that they’re trying to find clues or a trail. The same concept applies to the digital space – and to WordPress sites in particular. So, what is breadcrumb in WordPress exactly? 🤔

When implemented correctly, whenever a user is unsure of where they are on a WordPress website, they can look for (digital) breadcrumbs. It’s a secondary navigation trail that can help them pinpoint and understand their location on a website. These breadcrumbs thus facilitate ease of usage, allowing visitors to swiftly and conveniently move back and forth to the different site pages and content.

Read on to learn more 👨‍🎓 about breadcrumbs and how to add them to your website.

Understanding breadcrumbs

Here’s an example of what breadcrumbs look like on a website:

Example of breadcrumbs on a website.

There are a few things that you should know to better appreciate and understand what is a breadcrumb in WordPress.

Benefits of adding breadcrumbs to a website

There are multiple benefits to adding breadcrumbs. First, they give users an alternative means to navigate your online platform. This additional option is particularly useful for multi-level websites that have several sections and subsections.

These trails also mitigate bounce rates by providing users with an easy way to explore your site and move from one page to another. Instead of needing to select the “back” button of an internet browser or use the primary navigation tool, they can simply click on your breadcrumbs and be immediately directed to their desired page.

Lastly, breadcrumbs can improve overall site visibility. Internal links are one of the factors that search engines look for when giving search rankings. The more robust your site’s internal linking structure is, the higher the chance it will appear on top of the search page.

Where to use breadcrumb navigation

While using breadcrumbs has its benefits, not all sites require a secondary pathfinding feature. Users can easily find their way in single-level WordPress websites or those that don’t follow complex content hierarchies or categorization. Thus, breadcrumb navigation offers fewer advantages for these sites and might just cause confusion.

This extra navigation feature is ideal for platforms that have an in-depth and layered content structure. Examples of websites that need breadcrumbs are e-commerce, larger blogs, informational, and business platforms.

Adding breadcrumbs in WordPress

The easiest way to add breadcrumbs in WordPress is via the Yoast SEO plugin. Once you have the plugin installed and activated, go to your WordPress dashboard and into Yoast SEO → Advanced → Breadcrumbs:

Yoast SEO plugin settings.

From there, you can adjust the settings to decide what information should be displayed in each breadcrumb, plus where you want them shown in the first place.

To enable the breadcrumbs, toggle the switch at the bottom of the settings page:

Yoast SEO plugin enable the breadcrumbs.

Next, you’ll want to add the breadcrumbs to a specific section on your page. There are two popular choices to do that:

  • (a) In a custom placement on your pages.
  • (b) In a sidebar widget.

Option (b) is the simpler one so we’ll start with that. Go to Appearance → Widgets and add the following shortcode in the sidebar area of your choice:


This shortcode will be replaced with the actual live set of breadcrumbs.

If you want to go with a more custom option (a), you’ll need to add the following code snippet somewhere in your theme’s core files – probably somewhere right above the headline area of your individual posts.

if (function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb')) {
yoast_breadcrumb( '</p><p id="breadcrumbs">','</p><p>' );

This code will tell the plugin where to show the breadcrumbs.

👉 If you don’t like Yoast and would like an alternative solution for breadcrumbs in WordPress, here’s a list of some of the best breadcrumb plugins available.

Conclusion 🧐

Breadcrumbs are useful for multi-level WordPress websites. These secondary navigation tools are likewise easy to add. Now that you’re familiar with what breadcrumbs are and how to incorporate them into your website, you can make your platform more user-friendly and accessible.

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