A few years back I used to do the odd album review for a music-blog called Fly, which lived at a pretty attractive three-letter .co.uk domain. The owner then sold the domain, and the music site moved over here. At the time I thought I had gone through old posts I had written which linked to Fly, to update the URLs, but it would seem that I missed a few.
How do I know this? Because this morning I received an email from an ‘Online Marketing Manager’ at the new owners of the old Fly domain, asking me, quite nicely, to remove my old links. That’s pretty fair, particularly as I know why they’re doing this, and I probably would have done so without any bother (though it is a little bit of a pain in the arse).
But what got me slightly riled, was the last paragraph of the email, in which they asked me, using vaguely threatening/legales type language, never to link to them again. Apart from the fact that this is bloody ridiculous (what if I wanted to write about what a great deal I had go from their new travel site), I also think it verges on bullying.
Danny Sullivan wrote a great post a few years ago talking about how the real issue with paid links was that the people buying them often didn’t warn the little one-man (or woman) sites they were buying them from what the potential risks were. Well, equally, someone who didn’t realise that the reason companies are now asking people to remove links is because of the fact that Google has changed its algorithm, might feel threatened and think they had somehow done something wrong, when, of course, they, and I, haven’t.
Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here. I’ll let you decide. The email is below (with names, etc… removed) What I do know is that I may or may not remove the links (I’ll probably just delete the posts as it’s easier), and also that if they could be bothered, they could probably negate some of the damage these old, innocent links are passing, by using Webmaster Tools. They also might want to get rid of the crappy site-wide links they have at the bottom of every page, before they start trying to scare bloggers.
Dear Mr Norris,
My name is [name] and I am an Online Marketing Manager for [domain]
It has come to our attention that your website contains multiple links to our website.
These links include for example the following:
[link] – Anchor Text: [site name]
While we appreciate the fact that you are linking to our site for your readers, we would nonetheless like to ask you to remove these links. We are in the midst of restructuring our web presence and therefore feel it would be more beneficial to both your audiences as well as our site, if you would remove the links as soon as possible.
In addition, we’d like to ask you to please refrain from linking to [domain] in the future without our consent or prior knowledge so as to avoid any possible misunderstandings.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Plane by Christian Ghe on flickr