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I am developing a website that has a drop-down menu at the top of it. The Menu has around 100 links in it that are repeated on every page. Every page also has some number of links below the Menu that may or may not be in the menu itself.

My issue is that Google says they generally don't like pages with more than 100 links on them.

Is there any way to change the links on the menu so that they no longer "count" towards my max of 100 links? It seems like there should be an easy way to do this but their really doesn't seem to be. the rel=nofollow still counts towards the number of links on the page at least according to Google, so what other options do I have?

I looked into where the 100 comes from and I found that it used to be here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769#2 but that is no longer the case. I found a more definitive and frankly muddier answer here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/questions-answers-with-googles-spam-guru from Matt Cutts from 2007.

Long story short, in 2007 they still felt 100 links was a good number but they stated you could go far beyond that. In fact, they said that pages with high PageRank could have 2-300. It did sound like having many links could reduce the PageRank of the page with all of the links or possibly all of the items linked to.

Also, I know IIS7's SEO 1.0 toolkit suggests that pages should have no more than 250 links.

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4 Answers 4

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Well if you want to hide those links from web crawlers, you might consider loading some of the links using AJAX in a window.onload() or DOMReady event and then append that HTML to your page. This way the HTML isn't present when Google crawls your page initially.

This will of course mean that those AJAX-loaded links aren't accessible to browsers with Javascript disabled, so it's a trade off. Might not be appropriate for your situation.

(At least I don't think that Google's crawler runs your javascript when crawling pages)

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You might be surprised :) I've seen errors in my webmaster tools that could only be caused by their engine not parsing JS correctly, and others have done research to prove the same. e.g. bredsaal.dk/does-google-follow-urls-in-javascript –  JasonBirch Jul 16 '10 at 4:52
    
-1 don't present different content to crawlers from what you present to users. Google specifically prohibits this, and BMW.de got deleted from Google's search results for a while from doing this. google.com/support/webmasters/bin/… blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-02-04-n60.html –  bob esponja Jul 19 '10 at 8:54
    
Bad answer I guess. –  jessegavin Jul 19 '10 at 15:00

To me your menu sounds unusable. I don't believe anyone would go through all the links without crying.

I really think the best thing to do in your case is to redo your navigation, or have an information architect look at your site.

In your case I would think less about Google and more about users. If you focus on making users happy Google will be too.

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Here are some stats that may be interesting:

  • Yahoo home page: 128 links
  • Digg.com home page: 250 links
  • Wikipedia home page: 274 links
  • Today's featured Wikipedia article: 717 links

It's pretty clear that lots of links aren't a huge problem, particularly if the links are all to pages on your site. The biggest problem will be the user experience - can a user find what they are looking for easily enough, and not get lost in the links?

A better strategy may be to only link to your major sections and pages (~30 links or so), then have a section menu on those pages. You could also try a breadcrumb trail menu if your site structure warrants it.

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100 links? Whoa. I guess you could ask yourself if you really, really need to have all those links in the menu at once.

If you do, could you devise a script that only shows some of them at any one time. ie You have say 5 top menu choices. When the user's in selection 1, show all of selection 1's links, and half of the other selections. Just a thought.

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To clarify it isn't the user experience I am worried about. The Menus are CSS driven drop down menus so they only see what they need to see. Google sees everything though. –  RandomBen Jul 8 '10 at 20:44
    
Even though users can only see one section of links at a time, I would still be concerned that navigating the menu structure would be overwhelming. –  tnorthcutt Jul 9 '10 at 14:59

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