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Does reducing the height of an internal linking block improve organic traffic?

Posted on April 18, 2024 by Ruth Everett

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In this week’s #SPQuiz, we tested reducing the size of a customer’s internal link block and placing some links behind a ‘Show More’ button on desktop page load. 

We asked our followers what they thought the impact would be on organic traffic, here is how they voted:

Poll results from social media question

The majority thought this would have an inconclusive impact on organic traffic, with 25% thinking it would be negative. The result, therefore, may be a surprising one. Check out the rest of the case study to see the outcome of this test. 

The Case Study

A SearchPilot customer in the travel industry wanted to test whether reducing the size of their internal link block would positively impact their organic traffic. They were planning a large-scale roll-out and wanted to ensure that the change wouldn’t negatively impact their traffic. 

We know that the size and layout of on-page elements can significantly impact user experience, particularly in terms of readability and visual clutter. Google also prioritizes user experience; considering factors such as page layout, readability, and engagement metrics when ranking pages. 

We hypothesized that reducing the size of the link block may improve the overall readability and visual appeal of the webpage. This could help in creating a more streamlined and user-friendly browsing experience.

Additionally, we believed that optimizing the layout and presentation of links could make it easier for users to navigate the website and locate relevant content. This, in turn, might lead Google to interpret the more concise and well-organized link structure positively. This could potentially improve crawlability and indexing of the page's content.

We expected that by implementing these changes, the customer could see an improvement in their existing rankings. Reducing the size of the link block could help influence how Google perceives its relevance and importance, as well as other page elements. However, given the importance of internal links for SEO, it was crucial to also test for any potential negative impact on organic traffic. It is important to note that reducing this element's size can lead to Google devaluing the page element or the links themselves.

Example of test change


This test resulted in a predicted uplift of 10.2% with an inconclusive result at the 95% confidence interval. However, we did see a positive outcome when looking at the 90% confidence level.

Graph showing a positive test uplift

Due to the strong hypothesis, and as there was no discernible negative impact, our customer opted to proceed with deploying the change across all their pages using our default to deploy approach

These findings suggest that there may be a benefit to concealing certain links within the link block during page load for desktop browsers, particularly when the element features a large number of links. However, as with all large-scale visual and linking changes, we recommend testing first to ensure there is no adverse impact on organic traffic.

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How our SEO split tests work

The most important thing to know is that our case studies are based on controlled experiments with control and variant pages:

  • By detecting changes in performance of the variant pages compared to the control, we know that the measured effect was not caused by seasonality, sitewide changes, Google algorithm updates, competitor changes, or any other external impact.
  • The statistical analysis compares the actual outcome to a forecast, and comes with a confidence interval so we know how certain we are the effect is real.
  • We measure the impact on organic traffic in order to capture changes to rankings and/or changes to clickthrough rate (more here).

Read more about how SEO A/B testing works or get a demo of the SearchPilot platform.

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