Is Google’s 100 links per page guideline still valid? Particularly given advanced CSS capabilities that allow tabs, reveals and other treatments that allow more content and links on a page without degrading the user experience?
The original reason for recommending 100 links per page was pretty simple. At one point, Google would only index 101 kilobytes of a page. So we needed some heuristic to say: “don’t make a page so incredibly long that we’ll truncate and not index the words at the end”. So we said, “101 kilobytes, 100 links”. That’s a pretty rough measure, but if you’re getting much beyond that then that’s a little unusual. But that 100 links per page guideline dates back 8 or 9 or so years.
The web has changed and web pages tend to be a lot richer. They tend to have a lot more information on them if you go back and compare now, versus 10 years ago, average pages on the web. So if you look very carefully, I believe that we have removed the guideline that says 100 links per page. Does that mean that you should instantly go in and throw 5,000 links all on one page? That’s probably not going to be a good idea. Not only because it’s a bad user experience, but it might look like a link farm or like you’re stuffing a bunch of links in there. I wouldn’t necessarily hold to the idea that yes, there has to be 100 links on a page.
We have removed that guideline. So now it’s entirely reasonable that a rich page can have quite a few links before you really have to worry about running into any sort of issue where we might not follow every single link.
One thing to be aware of is – we do take the PageRank of a page. And the PageRank equation says you divide by the out degree. So if you have 500 links on a page, you’re dividing that page’s PageRank by 500 when you look at the outgoing links. That’s according to the original PageRank paper. That’s one thing to bear in mind. You might not want to automatically go for hundreds and hundreds of links, or a thousand links. But think carefully about which pages are really important, and then try not to overwhelm your users with links that don’t really give them a lot of value or benefit.
by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team