I Choose Who I Link To

I received this e-mail recently:

From: Andrew Larson <andrewl@webhostinggeeks.com>
Subject: Links removal request to WebHostingGeeks.com from http://philarcher.org - Important!
To: phil@philarcher.org

Dear webmaster of http://philarcher.org, we operate WebHostingGeeks.com.

You have a link to http://webhostinggeeks.com various pages on your site, particularly here: http://philarcher.org/tools/skypescribe/.

As you probably heard Google has released the new algorithms update "Panda 4.0" that targets low quality links. Google has defined that the link to WebHostingGeeks.com on http://philarcher.org as low quality and therefore hurts us as well as your site in the ranking of search results.

To avoid Google penalty simply remove ALL links to http://webhostinggeeks.com from your site.

If you need help to remove the links simply reply back to me and I will be happy to assist personally.

Thank you!
Andrew Larson

This is NOT SPAM - this is true human link removal request. We respect your privacy. To prevent us sending email in the future simply unsubscribe here: http://webhostinggeeks.com/unsubscribe/.

This raises a number of issues:

  1. who I link to is entirely up to me, not the person I link to or Google;
  2. I included the link for a reason - it links to a Serbo-Croat translation of that page — which sounds like a pretty good reason to link to it I think (the link is reciprocal);
  3. does Mr Larson honestly think the way to get me to do anything he wants me to is to refer to the link as low quality?
  4. and if this is NOT SPAM - how come there's an unsubscribe link at the end?

Of all of these, the first one is the most important. The Web Architecture issue at stake is described well by Jeremy Palmer in his blog post Google is Breaking the Internet. I don't link to anyone for SEO reasons and I don't ask anyone to link to me for SEO reasons. I link because the thing at the end of the link is relevant to what I'm saying. You may disagree with my judgement, that's your pergoative, but this is my Web site and editorial control rests entirely with me. If we allow ourselves to be beholden to Google, or anyone else, to limit how we may use the Web then we will damage the Web itself. I'm not prepared to do that.

So no Mr Larson, I will not remove the link to your site. If that hurts your Google ranking then that's an issue between you and Google.

Reaction on Twitter

I tweeted a link to this page:

And got a good number of rewteets and favourites - thanks everyone.