Google Hits Rap Genius With A Spam Penalty Resulting in 80% Traffic Loss

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Lyrics site Rap Genius was penalized by Google just before Christmas after being outed for a black-hat link building scheme. Rap Genius was looking for bloggers to publish links with keyword rich anchor text in exchange for tweeting out a link to the bloggers’ websites.

Despite the founders issuing a public apology to Google they were still hit with a manual penalty for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by trying to artificially boost their rankings.

Rap Genius’ penalty buried every one of their pages deep beyond the first page of Google’s search results, no matter what keyword was being searched. Even searching for the name “Rap Genius” won’t bring up their domain on the first page, just their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Needless to say, this has had a profound impact on their search traffic. Quantcast shows nearly an 80% drop since the spam penalty went into effect:

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The founders of Rap Genius claimed they will stop the link scheme and suggested other lyrics sites are doing worse things:

We effed up, other lyrics sites are almost definitely doing worse stuff, and we’ll stop. 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.

There’s no word on if Google has any intention to lift the penalty, or if they will be looking into the alleged techniques being used by other sites. One thing is for sure: follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines or they will take necessary action!

Matt Southern
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in... Read Full Bio
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  • I think google takes this decision too late. This step of Google is so late. Rap Genius is used black hat technique many time before and still Google tolerate this … I surprised with this action of Google.. 🙂

  • Google will not leave a single spammer on net. so we should accept the worth of quality work and stop spamming otherwise the result of rap genuis is in front of us.

  • James

    So when does rap genius get back into action, or will the website be down for good? Please let me know it’s one of my favorite sites!! 🙁

    • Brian

      The website still works, Google just filters it out.

  • Norm

    This is a little ridiculous. I mean, searching on doesn’t even put on the first page. Um, really? It’s a little over the top to not rank a website for it’s own domain, don’t you think?

  • That is why you should never bite the hand that feeds you….free traffic from Google, you better play by the rules and make millions of dollars like them

  • Unlike other public penalties, Google could put this URL in its “NOT to big to fail” bucket …plus it sounds like the owners knew what they were doing was wrong, which is why this one is unique! In the past some major retailers got to hide in “we outsource SEO” and/or layers of corporate bureaucracy so the left hand didn’t really know what the right hand was doing. Time will tell if they are ever allowed to come back.

  • G**gle, as a company, is dangerous and evil. They are a big part of our infrastructure. They have satellites in the sky. They track us and the information we seek. They read our emails. Some idiots even put important information in Google “docs.” Finally, if this company gets mad at you, they can just decide to destroy your business. We didn’t elect G**gle. This isn’t our government. Oh, but they are buying military weapons and robot manufacturers. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Next, they’ll send drones after spammers. Fear The G**gle.