The web is made up of links and these links are what the search engine spiders follow in order to determine how certain sites and pages are connected and how they should each rank for certain keyword search phrases. This is why link building is such an important component of SEO. Inbound links pointing to a site are what convey trust to the search engine spiders. A link to a site almost serves as a “vote” for that site, a signal that the site offers something worthwhile. Inbound links tend to be the focus of an SEO campaign, but what about internal links on a website that point to other pages within the same site?
The internal linking structure of a site is also noticed by search engine spiders, primarily for the search spiders to determine the usability of the website. The search engines want to rank pages on websites that will provide visitors with a good experience so that the search engines look good for pointing the user in the right direction. Website visitors want to quickly find what they are looking for on a website and the links are what guide them. If the linking structure and navigation isn’t user friendly it makes conversion that much more difficult.
Previously, Google had set a limit on the number of links that should be on a page since too many links appeared spammy and a way to try and gain a search engine advantage. However, this limitation has been lifted because Google realized that in some cases it does make sense to have a lot of links on a page from a usability perspective. Usability should trump SEO every time.
While it’s true that there is no longer a preferred limit on the number of links on a page in the eyes of Google, it’s still advisable from an SEO perspective to avoid having too many unnecessary links on the pages of your website. According to SEO Moz, too many links is roughly defined as more than 100 on a page. SEO Moz states:
When search engine spiders crawl the Internet they are limited by technology resources and are only able to crawl a certain number of links per webpage. In addition, search engine algorithms divide the value of some popularity metrics by the amount of links on a given page. This means that each of the pages being linked to from a given page are also affected by the number of links on the linking page. For these reasons, we recommend you include less than 100 links per page to ensure that they are all crawled, though if your pages have a high page authority, search engines will usually follow more links.
If you have a large, well established website and it’s necessary to include a large number of links for usability purposes, there is no problem in doing so. However, if your site is on the smaller side there is no reason to have an abundance of links, so it’s still best practice to limit the number of links that are on each page of the site. Links on a page can add up quickly, so it’s recommended to use a tool that will provide you with the number of links that are on each page of your site.
If you find that many pages have a lot of links (more than 100), it’s worthwhile to do what you can to trim it down without sacrificing the usability of the site.