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After being outed for unnatural link scheme, lyrics site Rap Genius was hit with a manual penalty by Google that buried their pages deep into the search results listings.
To quickly recap, Rap Genius was offering to tweet the links of blogs in exchange for those blogs to link back to Rap Genius with keyword rich anchor text. As a result, they were hit with a manual penalty for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by trying to artificially boost their rankings.
This penalty had a disastrous effect on their traffic, which saw a nearly an 80% drop since the spam penalty went into effect. They couldn’t even so much as rank on the first page for their own domain name.
To Rap Genius’ credit, they have been extremely transparent since news of their link building scheme hit the web. They promptly issued a public apology, stating they would clean up their black hat tactics immediately. Most recently they have published a new entry on the news section of their website detailing the entire history of their link-building “strategy” and the specific actions they took to undo the damage caused by it.
Their post is actually a brilliant case study on how to go about identifying and removing problematic links and ultimately recover from a manual penalty issued by Google for link spam.
Did they recover? Well, it certainly appears so. At the time of this writing they are back on the first page for their domain name, and also of the first page for high value keywords like “rap lyrics”, “Kanye West lyrics”, “Eminem lyrics”, and so on. Whether or not they have made a full recovery is hard to tell, but they are well on their way to digging themselves out of Google purgatory.
Additionally, Quantcast shows a steady increase in organic traffic over the past few days. It’s not nearly up to the level it used to be before the penalty, but they are making progress.
What we can all learn from this whole Rap Genius fiasco is first and foremost to avoid unnatural link building tactics all together. However, if you do happen to get hit with a manual penalty, show Google the steps you have taken to recover from it and you may be fortunate enough to get back in their good graces.