Robert_Charlton - 8:50 pm on Sep 18, 2010 (gmt 0)
Re how Wikipedia looks at this within its editing community, I found this Wikipedia article amusing but also revealing. I should note that the article is talking about too much internal linking within Wikipedia in general.
Also, there's no specific SEO awareness in the article. They're looking at it almost entirely from the user perspective, which I think is a good guideline for what makes sense for SEO. I've chosen excerpts that focus mostly on in-sentence linking...
This essay addresses the overlink crisis and problems of overlinking Wikipedia pages with excessive wikilinks, especially in navboxes or infoboxes....
There are some typical cases of overlinking. It is characterized by:
- a large proportion of the words in each sentence being rendered as links;
- using links that have little related content, such as linking on specific years like 1995, or unnecessary linking of common words used in the common way, for which the reader can be expected to understand the word's full meaning in context, without any hyperlink help;
- A link for any single term (other than for date formats) is excessively repeated in the same article. "Excessive" is usually more than one link for the same term in a line or a short paragraph....
There's no question that the technique when used in moderation can be highly successful as a way of internally linking to related topics. It's perfect for a site like Wikipedia or the New York Times, eg, where the linking often comes in to articles at deep levels, and there's no way of structurally anticipating either the articles or the related pages.
How much moderation is required, IMO, depends on what kind of authority the site has. I see a lot of sites without nearly the authority of Wikipedia using this kind of linking much too often... and apparently some Wikipedia editors are thinking it's happening much too much on Wikipedia.