For a long time, the basic rule was that you shouldn’t have more than 100 links per page on your website. This used to be the suggestion in Google’s webmaster guidelines. Webmasters used to worry that having more than 100 pages would be viewed as spammy.
But times have changed, and the internet has evolved. That’s why Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, recently tackled the question:
“How many links on a page should we have? Is there a limit?”
Let’s take a look at some of the things Matt had to say in response:
On why Google’s guidelines used to recommend no more than 100 links per page:
“It used to be the case that Googlebot and our indexing system would truncate at 100 or 101k, and anything beyond that wouldn’t even get indexed. What we did is we said, ‘Okay, if the page is 101k or 100k, it’s reasonable to expect roughly one link per kilobyte and, therefore, something like 100 links per page.’
So that was in our technical guidelines, and we said this is what we recommend. And a lot of people assumed that if they had 102 links or something like that, that we would view it as spam and take action. But that was just kind of a rough guideline.”
On dropping the 100-links-per-page guideline:
“Nonetheless, the web changes, it evolves. In particular, web pages have gotten a lot bigger, there’s more rich media and so it’s not all that uncommon to have aggregators or various things that might have a lot more links. So we removed that guideline and we basically now say, ‘Keep it to a reasonable number,’ which I think is pretty good guidance. There may be a limit on the file size that we have now, but it’s much larger. And at the same time, the number of links we can process on the page is much higher.”
On diluting PageRank and creating a poor user experience by having too many links:
“A couple of factors to bear in mind: when you have PageRank, the amount of PageRank that flows through the outlinks is divided by the number of total outlinks. So, if you have 100 links, you will divide your PageRank by 100. If you have 1000 links, you will divide your PageRank by 1000. So if you have a huge amount of links, the amount of PageRank flowing out on each individual link can become very, very small.
The other thing is that it can start to annoy users, or it can start to look spammy if you have tons and tons and tons of links. So we are willing to take action on the webspam side if we see so many links that looks really, really spammy. But if you compare our old guideline of100 links and you look at what the web looks like now, it’s quite common to have 2 or 3 or 400 links on a page, as long as the page is long, it has value add, there are substantial amounts of substance and real stuff on that page.”
As Matt puts it at the end, “The short answer is really not to worry about it.”
It all comes down to creating a good user experience. If you’re doing that, chances are that you’ll be just fine.