Can I Have Too Many Links?

I recently saw an article advertising the linkbuilding conference that I am attending next month in London, given by Distilled. The title of the article was “Do you have enough links?” which was intended to get at the idea that you can never have too many links. It’s on SEOmoz and written by Will Critchlow, so it is worth a read.

Now, Will knows a lot more than I do, but I don’t know that I agree with the idea that you can never have enough. I could also be wrong. Allow me to make my case.

Can I Have Too Many Links to a Website Page?

I work on a relatively large online college website. The SEO team before me had been targeting a certain keyword phrase for a long time. Honestly, they built a ton of links back to the homepage with exact match anchor text. So many, in fact, that over 60% of the links for the whole site go to the homepage. About 40% of these are exact for the keywords we are trying to achieve the #1 ranking for. We’re not moving anywhere, however. Actually, we’ve dropped a few places over the past few weeks and can’t sustain the #2 ranking even when we get it for a day. Our nearest competitor for the sheer number of links has about 1/2 of what we do, and they outrank us (the #1 result is an exact-match domain).

We also have an outrageous links to unique domains ration, something in the neighborhood of 11,000 to 1. This is because most of the links built previous to my time are site-wide, so the numbers keep accumulating. The competitor who has passed us, who is sustaining the rankings for the most part, has about a 1,000 to 1 ratio, and they’ve been shedding link numberrs, trying to clean up their link profile, I think, and doing a darn good job at it.

This is why I say it is possible to have too many links from too few unique root domains. I want to try to create some linkbait that people will share easily, and maybe even write blog posts about.

Any thoughts out there about having too many links? Am I right on this, or am Imissing some key information? Any ideas on how to shed some of our over-bloated links?