Is this a question you sometimes ask yourself? The guidelines sometimes change as to how many is too many and whether having too few links will penalise your pages but it’s good to have a general idea on the ‘for’s and against’s’ for links.
In the past there was a limitation of 100 links per page as anything over that might not get indexed. That rule of thumb has since changed and while it’s not set in stone, you can exceed that amount of links as long as it’s reasonable. Unfortunately, reasonable isn’t clearly defined by the likes of Google, namely Matt Cutts, but applying a degree of common sense to the amount of links you implement, without being excessive, should reduce the risk of being penalised.
How do you avoid being penalised? Don’t use spammy links is a straight-forward answer, but the ratio of links to actual content should be significant. Endless paragraphs filled with links will not only jeopardise your pages in terms of indexing, but it will put off your readers. If you do find that you need to include a lot of links, then that’s fine – just as long as the rest of your page complements the links with rich content that appeals to your audience and not aimed at search bots.
Keep the links relevant to your content and the context of your site. It isn’t necessary to link to a home page for every company you mention, but if you are targeting a specific product or service for an outside source, then it’s safe to link to it. Your audience want to find answers fast and efficiently. Although searching for an article mentioned on your page isn’t entirely strenuous, make it easy for your users and put in the appropriate link so they don’t have to search for it themselves.
While on the subject of how many links your pages have, ensure you pay attention to any broken links you may have. Not only is it entirely frustrating for someone to click on a link only to see a 404 page, but it’s bad practice for your website to have broken links; if a link doesn’t work, chances are your audience will go elsewhere – especially if you are selling a product or service.
If you regularly link to external sites, consider setting up a schedule of sorts by checking the quality of links on your site. It isn’t uncommon for URL’s to change through redesigns, deletion or general maintenance from webmasters that decide on renaming their pages. There are many tools out there to check for broken links. One such source could be the W3C’s own Link Checker. It’s free to use and with a reasonable amount of options.