Rap Genius, a site that allows users to annotate song lyrics to provide insight into their meaning, irritated Google with some shady tricks to get higher placement in search results. So Google banished them to the wasteland that is anything that doesn’t show up in the first few search results pages, because they pretty much own the Internet.
Rap Genius announced on its Facebook page a few days ago that it was starting a “Rap Genius Blog Affiliate” program. What did this program consist of? According to an email from Rap Genius posted by blogger John Marbach, it asked bloggers to post links to Justin Beiber lyrics on Rap Genius in exchange for Rap Genius to tweet the blog post out to its 135,000 followers.
Why? Justin Bieber’s new album just dropped, and Rap Genius wants to boost its results for Bieber searches to profit from the hordes of beliebers who will search for the deeper meaning in Bieber’s prolific lyrics, such as “Baby, take a chance or you’ll never ever know, I’ve got money in my hands that I’d really like to blow,” and “So say hello to falsetto in three, two, SWAG!”
And those are just some of his older lyrics. We can only imagine how much more swag Rap Genius will help us understand from his most recent opus.
Anyway, Google got wind of what was going on and didn’t appreciate Rap Genius riding Bieber’s coattails, and a smiting was quickly handed out. Previously, the site would come up near the top of search results for many popular artists’ lyrics, and now they’ve sunk to the later pages of results even if you search “rap genius” by name. Google sure knows how to drive a point home.
It may seem like harsh punishment, as many online businesses achieve success largely through their Google search rankings, but it’s likely Google’s way of sending a message that their business depends on having quality search results that are driven by a site’s actual popularity and not cheap tricks.
After all, there’s a reason it’s such a huge hit to lose Google search rankings. It’s basically the portal through which most people experience the Internet, and they built that following by keeping abuse like this to a minimum.
For its part, Rap Genius responded quickly with an open letter explaining that they want to rise above the rest of the lyric sites out there, but they’re forced to engage in the same tactics as their competitors if they want to get noticed. If you’ve seen how spammy a lot of lyrics sites are, it’s easy to imagine they’re telling the truth, so hopefully this will lead to Google cracking down on those other sites, as well.
At this point, Rap Genius claims to be working with Google to restore their search rankings, but feel free to Google “Rap Genius” for yourself and see how that’s going for them. (Although the massive amount of news results about this probably isn’t hurting them too much.)
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