Rap Genius, one of the most popular music lyrics websites on the Internet, has been punished by Google for its improper search-engine optimization tactics. The website allows users to explain the text/lyrics of various documents, including rap songs.
Rap Genius' Google ranking has plummeted, so the website no longer shows up among the top results when you type "Rap Genius" into the search engine. According to ABC, the actual Rap Genius website does not appear until the fifth page of Google results. A Google search for a particular song's lyrics will also not immediately bring up the Rap Genius website.
This Rap Genius/Google controversy began when the website asked for blog affiliates via its Facebook page. A blogger named John Marbach responded, and one of the website's founders, Mahbod Moghadam emailed him back. Moghadam said he would tweet out Marbach's post if he linked back to several Rap Genius pages. Marbach then blogged about Rap Genius' request, complete with email screenshots to back up his claims.
Rap Genius' strategy explicitly violated Google's rules. The search engine's support page bans "link schemes" intended to manipulate SEO, including providing services to another website in exchange for linking. Google also warns that those tactics could lead to a drop in a website's ranking.
After Marbach's blog post went viral, Rap Genius' creators posted a lengthy apology. However, the website still did not escape punishment from Google.
"We effed up, other lyrics sites are almost definitely doing worse stuff, and we'll stop," the apology statement read in part. "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."
Rap Genius' creators denied breaking several of Google's rules. For instance, the creators said they did not provide links in exchange for services, nor did they use automated programs to create links.
But they did admit to promoting certain bloggers who linked to Rap Genius pages. The creators believe some of those bloggers were using "unnatural links." This means those bloggers linked to Rap Genius lyrics on posts that had nothing to do with the songs being linked to. This practice is supposedly what got the website in trouble with Google.
However, Rap Genius' punishment from Google seems short-lived. The founders told TechCrunch that they are working with the search engine to come to a solution.
"We are working with Google right now to resolve this," the statement said. "They've been really great, helping us identify changes we need to make, even on Christmas. We're working on it as fast as we can, and expect to be back on Google very soon. It sucks to be off Google for us and for the thousands of our community members who have worked so hard to create what's often the best search result."