I've got a website which has been running for 9 years. if I look at the traffic stats for 4 years ago, the level of traffic was 3 times what it is today. So there has been a steady, albeit slow decline in google organic search traffic to my site. (below, traffic stats from Jan 2007 - Jan 2012)
I look at google trends, and I also notice a similar(ish) trend in traffic dropping over the years for keywords which my site is targeting. (Google trends from 2007 - 2012)
Still today, the site appears to place at #1 when doing a search via www.google.com/ncr for keywords i'm targeting.
I am also aware that the drop in traffic could be to do with the fact that 'google image search' now places results above traditional search engine results. And that might have come in about 4 years ago as well (I don't know?)
Another thing is, the turning point, when traffic started going downwards roughly correlates (give or take 3-6 months) when I put a few paid text links on that website.
Now the paid text links, make a small amount of money, not a lot, but I would still like to keep that income coming in if possible.
I could remove the paid links and submit a reconsideration request, but i don't know whether i'm being penalised, I don't want to lose out on the income if I don't have to.
Considering what I've said above, does it sound to you like this website is being penalised, or rather it is just suffering due to a change in 'what's popular' and google changing the way search results are displayed?
Thanks for any opinions on this slightly confusing predicament.