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A couple years ago I added 6 text links in the header across a 500 page site. It seemed to really help those pages rank well in Google for that anchor text. That appears to no longer be the case. I am looking for some feedback related to internal linking best practices as I assess and re-deploy a new internal linking strategy. Below are questions, rhetorical questions, and experiences related to the topic.
-I have several pages that all have the same internal link anchor text pointing to them. I am assuming this is not a good thing, and I should point all the links with 'keyword phrase' as the anchor text to the page with that is the first most relevant match for that 'keyword phrase', the keyword phrase page. What if the homepage is ranking the highest for this term? Should I point all 'keyword phrase' anchors to the 1st most relevant page, which itself linked to from the homepage? Would it be better to point all the links directly to the homepage because it is ranking the highest for the keyword phrase?
-What is the risk/benefit of using the same alt="keyword phrase" on the header image on every page in the site that links to the homepage? Is there a risk or advantage in varying the alt text for this image link across the 500 page site? We have inconsistencies in this area - I'd imagine that the same image should have the same alt text, and anything else could be construed as manipulation? Does Google think like that?
-Instead of 'run of site' text links I am placing links only on pages relevant to that keyword. This will dramatically cut down the total number of internal links to a particular page, but the referring pages will all be relevant. Quality vs Quantity?
-Text links in the footer across the 500 page site.... I did some searches for a couple long tail keyword phrases in anchor text in the footer across the site and noticed we ranked nowhere for those queries. If quantity of internal links with the keyword phrase were a huge factor you'd think sheer number of internal links alone would boost a long tail keyword phrase on a quality site to the top of the SERPs, right? Is this evidence that sitewide internal links could be hurting ranking? Could a sitewide footer link for 'keyword phrase' actually hurt our ranking for 'keyword phrase' because there are SO many links regardless of referring page relevancy?
-Is a preferred internal linking architecture Homepage with links for 'KW1', 'KW2', 'KW3' to the internal most relevant pages respectively, then internal links from relevant pages on the site pointing to the kw1, kw2, k3 page? Should the Kw1, kw2, kw3, point back to the homepage with the very same anchor text the homepage points to them with? That kinda doesn't make sense to link back to the homepage.
-What anchor text should be used when linking to the homepage internally? What if there is a more specifc, relevant page than the homepage on the site, which is probably the case on most sites?
I'd really appreciate insight you'd be willing to share. I am trying to conceptualize and refine the strategy before starting to change links. Trying to create a blue print for a game plan.