TheOptimizationIdiot - 11:39 pm on Apr 18, 2013 (gmt 0)
So in my specific case, I have products with model numbers, it would be better to link internally with the model number than on the product name...
I think that's what I'd do, especially since "surrounding text" is taken into account.
I'm not sure about your specifics, but maybe "Manufacturer - Product Number" would be better? One other thing I'd also make sure of, and this is an "obscure one", is the HTML is algorithmically understandable to be a list of items and not keyword stuffing.
Here's an example of a super obscure, haven't heard about it before in all my years online penalty: A site I used to work on and stepped away from got hit by a Panda update. When I say hit I mean from 10,000+ pages indexed to 1 page in the index and 0 traffic.
It got smacked and I was asked to take a look at it again before the owners just threw it away. On a whim, I rewrote the HTML to be more semantically correct on about 80 legacy pages that had always ranked well. Meaning I switched lists of terms a person could understand from <p>term<br>term 2<br>term 3<br>sub-term<br>sub-term 2</p>, to actual lists displayed inline (nothing much changed as far as the display or content of the text, only the HTML) and within a week the site was being reindexed.