The search giant, Google, has recently penalized Rap Genius for shady tactics involving trying to raise their page ranking in Google’s search results by allegedly attempting to trick their indexing algorithms. Rap Genius’s website has now been removed from the top of search results. Google has yet to comment on issuing any penalty.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often performed on websites to aid Google’s search crawlers and indexing bots. The programs or bots scour the internet looking for keywords used in people’s searches aimed at finding certain webpage content, webpage names, etc. that will then be run through an algorithm, ranked and indexed for the page link to be displayed on the search results page.
The algorithm can be changed and altered by Google which it is often done to equal out the playing field of competition. However, conforming to some SEO tactics and strategies can often ensure a website gets ranked fairly and high on the list of search results. Certain SEO tactics can be considered unacceptable to Google, and violators and those determined to be attempting some sort of deception will often be removed from any high index rankings.
The operators behind Rap Genius received $15 million in funding from Andreesson Horowitz in 2012. Rap Genius has a mission of creating amazing user experiences in hopes that they prefer Rap Genius’ website over other competitor lyrics websites. They truly believe that any unbiased person would prefer their product or services over any other competitors. Rap Genius feels that their website’s quality is the main reason they drove the majority of search traffic.
Part of Rap Genius’ SEO’s strategy responsible their website being penalized by Google is something often called back-linking. Rap Genius operators would seek out other blogs on the internet where they thought the blog readers would enjoy pages and links to the Rap Genius website. The Rap Genius operators would then ask the blog operators to link to any relevant Rap Genius content that was related to their blog posts.
Google’s Terms of Service say that users cannot buy or sell links that pass a PageRank. Google will not allow money to be exchanged for posts with links, nor will they allow any exchange of products or services including any “free” product from being given away as a sort of a bribe or encouragement to include a link to their page.
Rap Genius likely violated Google’s policies and was penalized when their website offered to Tweet and mention the linking bloggers content on their Facebook page. This offer of returning the gift of larger exposure to the 3rd party bloggers was likely the biggest factor in Google deciding to penalize Rap Genius.
Rap Genius’ offer was extended to all bloggers, but the company still insists that they screen their content by only giving recognition and larger exposure to bloggers that have relevant and well written related content.
Google’s terms also state that the creation of links that were not placed there and vouched for by the editors and/or authors of the page will make these links be considered unnatural and in turn violate their guidelines.
Rap Genius operators are now asking blog owners to remove any unrelated content links that do not relate to their own website content. Rap Genius will continue to work on solutions to prevent any future Google penalties from occurring. For now, their website listing in search engine results has been replaced with links to Rap Genius’ social media pages.
By Brent Matsalla