What Should Be the Limit of Links on a Page for SEO Purposes?

Whether you are an SEO/SEM professional or an independent web developer, one of the essential aspects of optimizing your site is receive high quality one way backlinks from others.  In the past, building links was much easier due to the fact that years ago Google rarely penalized a site that received links from link farms, reciprocal links (never penalized- but hold very little if any weight), three way links and paid links.  In fact, many in our industry remember a time when it was easy and guilt-free to receive links from dozens of site with little effort, unfortunately those times have changed.  Not only has Google cracked down on link farms, but Google has also gone after link selling services- even those that are discreet.  Now many of us are building links naturally for the most part, but for many web developers and SEO professionals, one question always remains, Does a page that has 100 or more links pointing off of it constitute spam or worse- is it penalized from Google?  For those wondering about this question, Matt Cutt’s from Google recently answered this question.

No Longer a Limit On Links

The internet has changed greatly over the last decade.  Not only do websites offer more information than ever, but Google is able to view and collect vast amounts of data about a webpage than ever before.  For many in the SEO profession, it was a generally held belief and mostly confirmed by Google that a web page should never have more than 100 links.  Actually, the reason being was not that Google would automatically penalize the site and mark it as spam- as well as the sites the links point to, but at one point in Google’s history (when it wasn’t as sophisticated), it would only index 101 kilobytes of a page- so it stated don’t have more than 100 links.

Today, however, websites and coding have changed.  CSS capabilities can easily add more than 100 links and with the web and data centers evolving, Google now has no problem indexing more than 100 links.  To view the video of Matt Cutt’s as he answers and explains this question, please click on the following link below:

http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp#p/u/25/l6g5hoBYlf0

Following Are Some of Google’s Best Practices for Links

While there is now no longer a 100 link limit on the amount of links that can be indexed from a webpage there are a few things to keep in mind.

For those that are receiving links from other sites: While you can’t always control who links to your site, you have more influence than you might think when participating in natural link building.  First off, be wary of pay-per-link sites.  Not only can they be very expensive, some of these sites are very easily noticed by Google.  Try to ensure that any links that are placed on other sites are embedded in text- specifically created by you (the more unique text the better).  Avoid reciprocal link swapping- not because they are spammy, but because Google usually doesn’t count them as important.  Feel free to swap links with your friends or businesses that are close to you, but this should be done for altruistic purposes and ultimately not for link juice.  Most of all, create quality content that can easily be shared, hopefully you will have a few sites that find your content interesting and worthy of them posting on their sites. 

For those that link to other sites: Only link to other sites that offer value to your content or your website.  Generally speaking, try not to use other people’s articles or blogs for content on your site- not only will it be duplicate content (which you may pay a penalty for), but you will have to offer them a link in return which will dilute the page rank for each link pointing off the web page (also noted in video by Matt Cutts). 

How Many Links is Too Many?

While Matt Cutt’s says 100 is no longer the cut off, he doesn’t specifically state a number to stay clear of.  However, if you have viewed the video, his body language does give us some guidance.  Generally speaking, I would still stay less is better.  However, as he states if your webpage does have a lot of info on it such as CSS components, reveals, etc and the usability of the site is generally good, I don’t see a problem having more. 

An Important Point to Remember:

In regards to Google Page Rank, having more links does affect Page Rank.  Google does take a look at the page and the amount of links on a page and divides that by the “out degree”.  So, as Matt Cutt’s says if you have 500 links on a page, you are dividing that page rank score by 500- diluting the power of each link (this is according to Google’s original page rank paper).  Just to note, if you do have a lot of outgoing links, one way to minimize the loss of link juice is to use the nofollow tag.  You can learn more about the nofollow tag at the following link: 

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=96569