Rap Genius Back On First Page Of Google After 10-Day Penalty

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rap genius penalty

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.

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
Matt Southern
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  • Rap Genius case is a classical example of what to do once you get it by a Google penalty. Clean up your acts.
    Will be recommeding how they went about it to someone I know facing the same issue.

  • Donald

    Come on, we all know that rap genius has nothing to do with other sites and in way are they a Case Study! They had massive publicity, articles written about them by every tech website and online newspaper. To imagine that any other normal low profile website would recover from a manual penalty in a 10 days by being transparent is naive and foolish.

    The only lesson to learn from the rap genius fiasco is that Google reacts to the press. If you get struck by a Google penalty try to get on the front page of Hacker News and embarrass Google and maybe you too can recover in 10 days.

    • Brilliant point Donald, well as far as Big G is concerned you really cannot understand the reason behind being penalized but your point of taking it to press and embarass G is awesome! 🙂

  • scott

    No special treatment here at all (sarcasm) . What about all the other websites that try and try for months to get out of a penalty but can’t? What about the thousands of other businesses Google has wiped out? There is no way to clean everything up and get google to responsd in 10 days. Special treatment for some nuclear treatment for others. Don’t be Evil…please…..

    • So Damn True Man! If a low quality or I must say a newbie (site that’s struggling on the way of learning online marketing) is penalized no one cares actually. People should understand now that the Google ultimately wants you to do PPC nothing else, it’s not a charity organization anymore. Give Google business and It will give you business back. Simple! You have amazon’s example in front of you, search any damn thing and tada! you will see amazon on top! I mean WTH? Your point is supported scott. 🙂

  • Its good , I know some more websites hits by google penguin for manual spam and after some reconsideration request they get ranking again.