Search is one of Google’s biggest products, its what transformed the company into the juggernaut it is today. It goes without saying that a lot of time and resources at Mountain View are dedicated to improving Google Search. You can find all sorts of shortcuts and tips on how to cheat your way to the top of the search rankings, which is the best position to be in if you want to drive substantial traffic, but once Google knows, and it always knows, the punishment is severe. Major lyrics website Rap Genius has been heavily penalized in Search ranking due to its shady SEO (search engine optimization) tactics.
Even searching for the website by its name doesn’t bring it up, though you’ll definitely see a lot of articles talking about its fall from search engine ranking grace. Rap Genius is primarily geared towards lyrics, though users can add their own explanations for songs, images and even religious texts. Its certainly not a garage project, the site received a $15 million investment late last year. It recently started an affiliate program and when founder of email filtering startup Glider emailed to ask for details, the folks at Rap Genius proposed that they’ll tweet a link to his blog post and “get you MASSIVE traffic,” if he posted links on his blog that pointed to lyrics of several Justin Bieber songs published on the website. The lyrics were meant to trick Google Search into improving the sites ranking, but the plan didn’t work as Gilder’s founder John Marbach published the email in a blog post which caught the attention of Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google. He announced that the company was conducting an investigation, which ultimately lead to Rap Genius being wiped out from Google Search.
They have since apologized to Google in an open letter, calling Mountain View to review similar practices employed by the entire lyrics website category, a subtle implication that its not the only one in this business trying to trick Google Search. In a statement provided to TechCrunch, the site’s founders say that they are now working with Google and it has identified the changes they need to make in order to return to a better ranking. As they say, there are no shortcuts to the top.