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What's the maximum number of links you should include on a single page? 3, 10, 100?

Let's say you want to build a comprehensive list of the UK charities using Twitter, for instance. There are a lot of links and as the list grows, you just might find yourself with more than 100.

What should you do? For some, the answer comes from the question, "What would Google do?"

Google's guidelines state "Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100)."

Not a big help since 'reasonable number' means different things to different people and there's a lot of room between link 1 and link 100. Some people almost certainly err on the side of providing fewer, lest Google penalize them for running a link farm.

Fortunately, we have a definitive answer on this topic: Google really doesn't mind.

That's according to a post by Google's Matt Cutts. In it, he explains that Google's guidelines were primarily based on the fact that in the old days, the Google crawler only looked at the first 100K of a page. While user experience is still a good reason to think carefully about how many links you provide on a single page, Google's crawler is smart enough to not penalize a site just because a page has a ton of links.

According to Cutts, "pages with lots of links are not automatically considered spammy by Google." That's good news.

Of course, he does go on to mention that Google might not follow all of those links but because Google is dividing the passed along PageRank by so many links in the first place, that's probably irrelevant.

Nonetheless, it's always nice to have some concrete clarification from Google, despite their simplicity, a lot of myths do get built up around SEO topics like these.

So, if you've been working on a blog post, The Top 100 X, it's officially safe to hit 'publish'. Finally.

Patricio Robles

Published 11 March, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2390 more posts from this author

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Andy Bright

I think it was Jared Spool who said recently that in his research they've found that users will happily deal with large volumes of content as long as that content is relevant to their activity.

From that you can say that if a users activity was, 'follow all known charities on twitter', then a long list of links ordered alphabetically is by no means a bad solution.

A bad solution, as far as ux goes, would be to do something like randomising and paginating the list. Such a brutal and inhuman sort and segregation would introduce issues when attempting to things like scrubbing the list for individual charities.

A single list would give the user their due and let them use their own tools and metal-model for sorting and making sense of the data. I believe our brains can likely deliver answers more quickly than the apache web server and 8meg broadband.

over 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

I think the most important word is "relevance". With the issue of too many links debunked, the challenge is to make content relevant. Lots of links can be a blessing if you are reading copy that contains a broad subject matter. I think it is important to ask yourself what would make your reader's life easier and deliver the content accordingly, not worry about whether you've got a few too many links.

over 7 years ago

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Rachel Burkot

On the flip side of that, I'm wondering if there is a minimum number of links an article should include. Is it okay to write an article that is purely your own thoughts? I'm thinking every article should link to at least one other, just so it doesn't seem completely self-serving. Besides, you need to prove your credibility for writing the article in the first place, right? Is it okay to only use 2 or 3 links in a post?

over 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Rachel

You don't have to follow rules. Your own thoughts are as important as pointing to other content. Again it is down to relevance. If what you write is interesting, engaging & relevant, i'll read it. I dont care if you do or don't link to something else as long as I get value from it. On my blog i generally use links to help signpost useful content but I would not put a link in for link sake. I read a great article today from Guy @ Carphone Warehouse which was purely about his opinion, no links at all. Quite refreshing as it communicated his personality better than any link could.

I think credibility comes from the authority of your voice. If you know what you are talking about and show enough passion for your content, people will consider you a credible source. Let's face it, at some point somebody has to initiate the content so why not become the source instead of a person in the debate?

thanks

james

over 7 years ago

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Claire

It is good to see that is not the case. I always find lists good to read, and if it consists of 100 of the best ever web designs, then again i will probably look at some. As mentioned it all needs to be relevant content, but things like this can also be categorised and a paragraph above each category. Web designs can be split into a million and one categories! It doesn't just need to be one list.

If i was to see 100 links to the best 100 websites, i wouldn't click on them all, like Google probably wouldn't get to them all, but i would certainly pick the top 20. So really the top 20 should be the most appealing. So effectively, there would probably be no point in having the 100 links, you won't be penalised for spamming, but you would be wasting your own time adding the other 80!

over 7 years ago

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Joshua Lindsey

I am building a blog and thought it was my links that were to high thanks for the information! Now on to find the problem...

about 6 years ago

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