Planet13 - 2:04 am on Jul 2, 2013 (gmt 0)
"How do you know that your internal links have caused your site not to rank at all for the [anchor text] keyword?"
I admit that I really don't "know" anything. Everything with google nowadays seems to be a shot in the dark.
I do know that my "blue widgets" page stopped ranking for blue widgets some weeks after Penguin 1 (around late May 2012), and the home page started ranking for that term instead. Later on (fall of 2012) none of the pages on my site would rank for "blue widgets".
I went from number 9 to nothing. Oddly enough, it ranks for things like "porcelain blue widgets" even though I didn't have that keyword anywhere on the page.
"Have you considered disavowing the questionable link and, ideally, getting a few additional legitimate backlinks for that page?"
i was able to get the questionable link removed about two weeks ago.
However, back in about February of this year, I changed the blue widgets page from blue-widgets.html to blue_widgets.html, without doing a 301 redirect.
So even before I got the questionable link removed, it had been pointing for the last several months at a 404 page (of course, that meant the GOOD link was pointing to a 404 page, too).
Still, no pages on my site could be found for blue widgets.
At this point, I am pretty much "betting" without really knowing that the algorithm-based elimination from the SERPs was either:
1) from approximately four internal, in content, TEXT links on some of the most popular page on my site, or
2) From the site-wide navigation bar link that contains the anchor text "blue widgets", or
3) From the internal IMAGE-based link from approximately 40 of my pages to the blue widgets page, or
4) A combination of the above, or
5) some combination of the above in conjunction with some external backlink (either with the questionable link I knew about OR some other external link that I have not found).