Posts Tagged ‘penalise’

Limiting Page Links

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Recently, Matt Cutts wrote a post on his blog outlining the reasons to keep the number of links on a page to a sensible number. Google’s webmaster guidelines states that the number of links on a page should be kept to under 100. In reality, this is a generous number and most people in the know would recommend less than half this number as an acceptable limit. A common fear is that too many links will make a site look like a link farm, causing it to be penalised. Link farms are spam pages that often have hundreds of links on a page and are generally banned pretty quickly by Google. However, Matt states that the volume of links alone will not trigger automated filters, but the knock-on effect to user experience and site structure could cause problems.

Matt states that the original reason for recommending no more than 100 links is that Google would only index around 100k of a page. More than 100 links would normally mean a file size of over 100k, and only partial indexing of the page. Although Google will now index over 100k, too many links can still cause problems.

User experience is crucial to the success of a website and navigation plays a large role in this. If a user has 100 links to choose from, it tends to complicate matters. Clearly defined navigational paths will help users get to where they need to go, whereas a myriad of links will not. In most cases, simple, easy to use websites will perform the best.

Too many links will also adversely affect site structure. A well structured website should have a well defined hierarchy. For example, a basic ecommerce site may have three levels: home page, category pages and product pages. This hierachy is solidified by the linking structure. Pagerank is passed down from link to link, giving more “emphasis” to the category pages than the product pages. Too many links means only a minute amount of PR is passed to each page. A typical result is that a site’s category pages do not rank as well as they could in the search engines.

Although having too many links will not automatically lead to penalisation, it can still have adverse effects on a site. When creating a linking structure for your site, remember to keep your users in mind. Search engines provide accurate results by considering users at every step. If you also follow this ethos, you will find that you can’t go too wrong.