|Home Page Links Limit - 100? ...or does it really matter?|
We are working on redesigning our site. With the redesigns, we are trying to make organization of our products and categories much easier to find and follow. I keep seeing that we need less than 100 links on a page so we have been planning on doing AJAX mega menus to keep link count and page size down, while still providing deep links for the user.
Then I look at other sites that get great reviews for usability and great SEO rankings...those sites almost always have over 100 links on the home page. In fact, Zappos has over 600!
I feel like I'm being torn in two directions. Should I make a site that is easier to use, or a site that has a better chance of being ranked by all the search engines?
If your site has a PR8 home page like Zappos, and if your business has hordes of dedicated repeat visitors just like Zappos does, then you might be able to get away with hundreds of home page links. Otherwise, you are smart to do the hard work of limiting homepage links and building a solid information architecture instead of a monster menu. Also note that Zappos is dealing with at least 7 million URLs.
100 links is not a hard rule, but it is a great guideline - in part for all the technical reasons that it used to be a hard crawling limit.
Are you sure that hundreds of links is really what your users want or need? In my experience, that kind of an interface is what people inside the company want - but they treat the website like an application that they use every day. That "learn this application" style of usability is not the same usability needed for a website, for a visitor coming from outside the company. The usual visitor will not pour over hundreds of possible choices, comparing all their options.
If we lived in a world without search engines or good website searches, I could see having 100's of links on a home page.
I've never made a 'mega' site, but IMO a good sitemap will take care of the search engines, and a good search box will take care of your visitors.
Great question from Tedster: Are you sure that hundreds of links is really what your users want or need?
As a user, to be honest, even 100 links on a page sound overwhelming. It is much better to have a few links and then let the visitor navigate to the right page in steps. And for zappos type websites, it is better to have search with those radio buttons that allow you to choose size, price range, brands, color, etc. I find those to be far more useful than figuring out where to click on a page with 100s of links.
I just bought a pr2 website that has over 250 links on the homepage, and about 20 external links in the footer and the site just ranks extremely well for its inner pages and even the homepage. Doesnt have many backlinks, lots of low quality forum, directory type links and the site just does great, gets 6k uniques a day, about 3k from the US and about 80% of that traffic is to its highly converting sub pages.
I am a big believer of no more than 80 links on any 1 given page but it doesnt seem to make a big difference.
I almost sometimes think google sets up webmasters by telling them what they should and shouldn't do and tries to guage which site is overly optimized by following google too closely.
Dont over optimize and dont listen to google too much, as long as you're not doing anything too questionable you're fine...its your site not googles.