How Many Links are Too Much for a Single Webpage?
Posted on December 19, 2013
How many links on a page are too many? For years, webmasters have followed the rule of thumb that kept links to 100 or less. In a recent video posting, Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, announced that Google no longer recommends following the "100 links per page guideline". And while websites may not be penalized for having 1,000+ links, Cutts reminded webmasters that it's all about quality.
If a site looks like spam and has a number of links on the page that Google deems questionable, Google will still take action.
Debunking the Myth of "100 Links"
Where did the myth of "100 links" originate? About 10 years ago, Google put into place guidelines for indexing pages. According to Cutts, the Googlebot and indexing system would truncate at 100k or 101k. Google expected roughly one link for every kilobyte – hence the "100 Link" rule was born. Even then, however, Cutts cautioned that the rule was never set in stone.
"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," said Cutts in the video. "But that [100 links] was just kind of a rough guideline.
" The web has changed a lot over the last decade, and in 2008, Google also changed its guidelines for indexing pages, removing the "100 link" suggested guideline altogether. This change was never publicized, however, and many webmasters continued to adhere to the "100 link" rule – and still do so today.
The "Perfect Number" of Links
So, how many links is too many? Like all things Google-related, there's no one clear answer. A lack of a clear guideline is due in part to changes in how websites are structured. According to Cutts, "In particular, webpages that 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."
Consequently, a "reasonable number" could be five links or it could be 1,000 links – it all depends on the type of content. Google will still take action against sites that are nothing but link spam, such as websites with paragraphs of links and no real substantive content. Even if the intention is not to create spam, user experience matters.
PageRank and Links: Do Too Many Links Dilute PageRank?
When building links, webmasters need to keep in mind the relationship between PageRank and links. According to Cutts, PageRank is divided by the number of links on a page. If Page "A" links to Page "B", "C" and "D", then the PageRank of "A" is split into thirds. If Page "A" links to 100 pages, then the PageRank for "A" is split into hundredths for each associated link. The fewer the number of linked pages, then the higher the flowing page rank benefit for each of these associated pages. While most webmasters do not need to worry about diluting page rank across their links, it is something to keep in mind when evaluating site architecture.
Bottom line: There is no "magical" formula for calculating the optimal number of links for a web page. As long as your site feature links that add value to your page's content, you won't be penalized for having more than 100 links.
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