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We are revisiting our internal linking strategy at my workplace.

The current implementation takes a bunch links and puts them on a number of pages that are reachable from the header. Some links appear more often than others.

Consider these two cases:

Case #1

Source page: Mens summer shorts

Internal link to: womens summer shorts
Internal link to: womens hats
Internal link to: jogger pants

Case #2

Source page: Mens summer shorts

Internal link to: mens plus size swimsuits
Internal link to: mens sunscreen
Internal link to: mens jogger pants

Case #1 has internal links that are not directly related to the source page, but Case #2 does.

Will either case affect the ranking of the pages?

Second question: Is there a gold standard for the number of times a link can appear throughout the site? What happens if a link gets linked to from 500 different pages?

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You can link from anywhere so long as the page being linked to is relevant to the content and context of its location. Using keyword rich anchor text is a ranking factor but should be varied to avoid other potential SEO issues.

In both cases you have shown I can see no intrinsic problem with the links, so long as they are not jammed in there irrelevantly. They should improve the user experience.

If you crawl your site and offer the pages by most linked to you will see the structure of promotion that you are sending to Google. You don't want every page linked to the same number of times.You want to promote your more valuable pages above less valuable ones. You can do this by providing fewer links to them.

Links allow authority to travel throughout your site and as such you want the most authority to go to the most valuable pages. Adding too many links into valuable pages leaks the authority from those pages.

have lot of internal links, but use them strategically to promote valuable pages and content.

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You have raised a nice question.

First of all the purpose of internal linking is to increase the exposure of your potential pages, increase the crawling of that page.

Now coming to your question, Google always tells you to put your internal links naturally.

For example

Men's summer shots can help you relieve from the hot weather, we have unisex as well as women's summer shorts to ease out of hot weather and stay ventilated.

In the above sentence, you can give the hyperlink to women's summer shorts.

If you have good knowledge of writing then you can create any content relevant and give internal or external links as per requirements.

Note:

Don't put internal links directly for SEO purpose however, internal links have nothing to do with your rankings, but over-optimized anchor text can be penalized by Google as per their algorithms.

It is good to stay natural and put relevant anchors only for both crawlers.

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