There has been a rule of thumb for many years that you shouldn’t have more than 100 links per page. While the webmaster guidelines have changed to state that link should be keeping to a “reasonable number,” many webmasters still keep to the 100 links per page as a precaution. Matt Cutts is tackling the subject in his last webmaster help video.
How Many Links Should We Have on a Page?
First, Matt shares some background about why the whole 100 links per page rule started and how Googlebot actually did interact with that maximum number of 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. And 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.”
However, these guidelines were put in place 10 years ago; obviously the web has changed significantly, as well as the kind of content on sites and how it is presented. Fortunately, Google has also changed with it in terms of how Googlebot interacts with websites and any amount of content it indexes.
“The web changes, it evolves; 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, 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 -- at the same time the number of links we can process on the page is much higher.”
Matt also cautions webmasters against diluting their PageRank by having so many links on the page. If you want your PageRank to flow to the ones you link to, PageRank gets divided by the number of links you have on the page, so the fewer the pages, the higher the PageRank that those linked pages will gain. However, if flowing PageRank or lack thereof isn’t a concern, just follow the reasonable link number guideline, rather than trying to cut back as many links as possible.
“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 that 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 thing to consider is the fact that having a huge amount of a links can still be considered spammy, even if there isn’t a hard set rule on how many links that might be. Instead, Google looks at it from a user experience perspective, and if have the links present could be spam, such as paragraphs upon paragraphs of nothing but links.
“The other thing is that it can start to annoy users, or start to look spammy if you have tons and tons and tons of links. So we are willing to take action on the web spam side if we see so many links that looks really, really spammy. But if you compare our old guideline with 100 links and you look at what the web looks like now, it is quite common to have two or three or 400 links on the page, as long as the page is long, it has value add, there are substantial amounts of substance and real stuff on that page.”
Overall, as long as you’re presenting your content with links in a user-friendly way and your content adds value to the web, you don’t need to worry about restricting yourself to the hundred links per page.
See the full video: