I would also advise to continue doing what works. If something you have rolled out generates great traffic and links bring out a new version of the content, for example the 2012 version worked effectively bring out the 2013 version of the content. Another effective strategy is to make the piece of content into an evergreen article which you add to over time so it is always up to date.
Those who communicate value, attract others who seek that value in that topic. Those who are in the know, have an edge over those who don’t know, and that’s valuable. It helps people get more of what they want and like, and reduce their risk and negative experiences. In business, it’s profitable to have more of the right information than your competitors ahead of time (as long as it’s done and used legally to avoid fines and reprimands like with insider trading). Having valuable information first means you can make moves and investments before competitors, to buy cheaper and/or sell higher.
Now in your reconsideration request make sure you are honest and tell Google everything that the prior agency was up too. Be sure to include all Excel information of removed links and say you are going to make an ongoing effort to remove everything negative. It is common knowledge that Google may not accept your first reconsideration request, so it may take a few times.
Website ranking doesn't just come from what's on your website. Google, the number one search engine used today, uses a variety of other factors to rank websites. Things like your social media activity, appearances on other sites through interviews or guest blogging, and being listed as a resource on another site all increase your standing in Google's eyes.
Lynn, you have one of the best sites for affiliate marketing that I've ever seen. Just read your interview with Rosalind Gardner and found some interesting nuggets. Marketers should note the intuitive and spontaneous way you approached a niche and keywords. This is usually where "paralysis analysis" begins … some spend weeks with keyword and research tools until there is no "creative energy" left to build the site.
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Now, it is not that these sites are not interested in Google users. In fact, they have hired us to help them increase their share. However, they are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems there is less urgency about attracting this traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. Not long ago, sites would urgently and unquestioningly abide by Google’s standards to court that traffic.