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December 26, 2013

Rap Genius Drops in Google Search Rankings Due to Link Scheme

Any good SEO manager will tell you that there’s no way to game the system when it comes to SEO — or rather, if you find a way to do so, you’ll only end up paying the price for it. This is what lyrics website Rap Genius has learned after it employed sketchy SEO tactics in order to boost its position in Google’s search results.

Rap Genius has managed an impressive rise to the top since it hit the scene in 2009. This is in part because it saw a way to move beyond being a simple lyrics website. Indeed, its annotation functionality, which lets users add their own explanations to lyrics, has been applied to legal documents, images and even religious documents in the last few years, allowing the start-up to capture a lot of attention. This led to Rap Genius receiving a $15 million investment in 2012.

Alongside its financial success, Rap Genius has also enjoyed excellent rankings in Google. However, earlier this week, the start-up made an ill-advised move to boost its SEO by way of its “Rap Genius Blog Affiliate” program. Put simply, Rap Genius invited bloggers to place a series of links to the site’s Justin Bieber lyrics on their blog. In exchange, participants would get linked to on the Rap Genius Twitter account.

While being linked to from other sites is indeed a great way to boost search engine rankings, link schemes of this sort are very much looked down upon by Google. Links, after all, must be earned by way of quality content. It’s no surprise, then, that Rap Genius’ punishment has been severe.

According to Tech Crunch, Rap Genius no longer appears near the top of search results for queries of popular rap songs as it once did; it now appears on the fifth page of results at best. Meanwhile, the site now appears at the bottom of the sixth page of results when the term ‘rap genius’ is added to a search.

Fortunately for Rap Genius, there is a way to recover from such a setback and the start-up is working on it.

“We are working with Google right now to resolve this,” reads a statement from the site’s founders. “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.”

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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