bluntforce>>> we removed the keyword heavy anchor text becasue to me it looked really spammy.It was just about 4 different very similar versions of the same 2 or 3 word key phrase. I wasn't sure if that was hurting us, but i figured it couldn't hurt to change it so we at least wouldn't get dinged for it in the future.
Michael T>>> no major changes in traffic, no large events that coincide with traffic loss. I did however notice that the traffic decline began right around the time that Google rolled out Panda internationally. But it just didn't seem to fit together. There was no AH HA moment in there
Sgt>>> backlinks: we have started to get links from a new source over the years. WE used to have a large number of forums pointing toward us due to partnering with them or users just posting about our products. Nowadays all the links come from social syndication sites that post nothing but products from different websites. Different type of link, maybe the new ones aren't as valuable.
branding: ahh yes, big brands. and how must one become a big brand?.... (mostly rhetorical question)
thanks for all the input. With the way everything is changing we are really trying to map out a whle new way of thinking in 2013, albeit without having to change the layout and design of our site (its already so heavily invested in) but instead through smart marketing and really just basically doing what works instead of what doesn't work. Sounds simple, right?