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I have a website where the main menu has 10 level 1 items and each has roughly 10 level 2 items plus there are links in the header and footer and side bar plus some links in the content. All these links are standard anchor tags in the HTML source.

I keep hearing / being told to slash the number of links for SEO purposes, I want to keep all these links because they are part of the design and are convenient. I've heard rel="nofollow" won't help and isn't W3C compliant what should I do?

UPDATE: I am concerned about splitting page rank between over 100 links, there should be a way of having a load of links on a page without them getting page rank. I've also heard that rel="noFollow" is not the answer because it evaporates PR.

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I believe you have been given bad advice. See this video from Matt Cutts of Google explaining about the amount of links on a page no longer needs to be less than 100. youtube.com/watch?v=l6g5hoBYlf0 –  Max Jul 19 '13 at 3:37
    
@moobot: That sounds like a reasonable answer to me. Chris: Also, although you shouldn't use rel="nofollow" in this case, what makes you think it isn't W3C compliant? –  w3d Jul 19 '13 at 7:54
    
@moobot see update above. –  Chris Cannon Jul 19 '13 at 8:06
    
Regarding your update... this would seem to be a contradiction. You are concerned about splitting (or rather passing on) PR between 100 links, but at the same time you don't want the linked pages to get PR. Having more links on a page does not reduce the PR of that page, if that is what you are implying? –  w3d Jul 19 '13 at 10:20
    
I think you're talking about PageRank sculpting, i.e., you want to prevent PR flowing to some linked pages in order that more flows to the others. Google fixed that by, as you say, discarding rather than redistributing the PR that would otherwise have flowed through the nofollowed link. It's an out-of-date strategy that no-longer works. mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting –  GDav Jul 19 '13 at 11:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

There is no reason to follow the advice to keep a low number of links per page. Here is a visualization of the number of links on the homepages of top 98 webpages. Very few have less than 100, and many have 500 or more. If the top websites don't limit the number of links, then you don't have to either. Google's "100 links per page" advice is very old. The web has changed a lot since they started saying that in 1999. From an SEO standpoint, having lots of links on every page can really help instead of hurt, especially if those links are usable.

Edit: Google removed the "100 links per page" from the webmaster guidelines some time ago. Matt Cutts just released a video where he says that the limits for page size and number of links per page are much higher than they used to be.

On the flip side, the biggest downside of a multi-level menu is that it pushes the majority of your Pagerank to the pages that are in the menu. Since those pages are linked on every page, pages that aren't in the menu can have a hard time competing. If your menu covers all your important pages, then there is little reason to change anything. But if you have important pages that aren't in your main menu and you are having trouble ranking then you might want to consider revamping your main menu.

One technological solution to your main menu would be to load all the level 2 items through an AJAX call. Have javascript trigger on mousover of any of the level 1 items that loads the links from another file, inserts them into the menu system, and then shows them. Google will assign much less pagerank through these 2nd level links because it has to crawl an extra page to get to them.

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Thanks for informative and factual answer. Yes I think the main menu should not be in the HTML source on every page, but instead of AJAX wouldn't an iframe and some clever CSS suffice? –  Chris Cannon Jul 19 '13 at 19:04
    
"it has to crawl an extra page to get to them" - Presumably this is assuming that the level 2 pages are hard linked from the level 1 pages? If the links are only ever generated by JS/AJAX then it's likely that the level 2 pages won't be found via the navigation at all, and this will be wholly less accessible. Is it desirable to hide the level 2 pages? This would seem to be an unnecessary step backwards IMO. –  w3d Jul 19 '13 at 20:11
    
I was thinking in terms of Googlebot finding a link to the second level menu snippet URL in the Javascript, and the maybe passing pagerank through it to the second level menus. You would certainly need to link to the pages that are in the second level menus from somewhere still. –  Stephen Ostermiller Jul 19 '13 at 23:43
    
I'm not sure if you could have a menu pop out of an iframe. –  Stephen Ostermiller Jul 19 '13 at 23:45

Just think about usability.

  • Is your website well structured?
  • Is all parts of your website easily accessible?
  • Is page hierarchy logical and user friendly?
  • Do you unnecessarily sitewide link to the same pages of your site?
  • Does your site contain over excessive links on the page?
  • Are your anchors descriptive for visitors and not for SEO?

Tick all the right boxes for providing great value for your website visitors and that's more than half the job done right there.

PageRank has to flow naturally, this is the purpose of it. I really wouldn't worry about it being distributed via 100 links of your website providing those links serve value to your visitors.

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Good advice. The last three questions are especially relevant in my case. Lots of room for improvement there - but too much user-generated content and not enough time to do much about it - unfortunately. –  Chris Cannon Aug 29 '13 at 16:00
    
Always the case Chris. Heh. Perhaps consider what percentage of this UGC takes up the real estate onsite? –  zigojacko Aug 29 '13 at 16:06

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