Google Punishes Rap Genius For SEO Spam
Posted: December 26, 2013 by Emily Brown
It turns out Rap Genius had a rough Christmas as Google penalized the popular lyrics site for employing dubious SEO tactics yesterday morning.
Now, if you search for rapgenius.com on Google, it won't appear on the first page of the search engine. Instead you'll notice links to their Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Wikipedia profile or maybe stories of how they got penalized by Google.
Even though the wrongdoers did apologize and a resolution is in the works, here we'll unveil how they got themselves in hot water.
It all started when a few days ago Rap Genius called out bloggers to join its "Rap Genius Blog Affiliate" program. Curious about the invitation, John Marbach – the founder of email filtering startup Glider – asked in an email for details, to which Rap Genius responded with a link scheme proposal.
More precisely, the lyrics site offered to tweet links to Marbach's blog, all in return for a series of links to Rap Genius' Justin Bieber lyrics to be included on his blog. It's an old SEO trick, which in this case was meant to mislead Google into granting Rap Genius higher result rankings on searches for songs' lyrics from Bieber's latest album — most likely to be popular searches this season.
However, Marbach went to unveil rather than accept Rap Genius' foul play by publishing the email response he got from Rap Genius in a blog post, calling Google's head of webspam Matt Cutts for action. Shortly after Matt's said that they are looking into the matter, the site got penalized and now it's facing the consequences.
Unable to push a magical "undo" button, Rap Genius asked Google for the entire lyrics site category to be examined, suggesting that they are not the only the ones using shady SEO tactics. Here's a fragment of the apology:
"We effed up, other lyrics sites are almost definitely doing worse stuff, and we'll stop. We'd love for Google to take a closer look at the whole lyrics search landscape and see whether it can make changes that would improve lyric search results."
As vague as it sounds, learn from others' mistakes and stay away from SEO trouble.