The cofounders of Rap Genius got lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings, courtesy of Google. Matt Cutts, Google's head of search, promised he was looking into the lyric site's SEO scheme. His punishment this morning was swift and brutal.
If you search for Rap Genius on Google right now, the homepage for the startup is conspicuously absent from the first page of search results. You won't find it on the second, third, or fourth page either. Instead what you'll see on the first page of results are stories about how Rap Genius got smote by Google, links to their Twitter and Facebook and, at least for me, a link to this Billboard article about "How Rap Genius Won the SEO Game."
More importantly, links to the Rap Genius pages for popular songs, which would often pop up as the top result, got similarly smacked down. Way, way down. Earlier this week, a leaked email revealed that Rap Genius was advising affiliate bloggers to embed links to the Rap Genius pages for Justin Bieber's new album as a sneaky, old school traffic booster. But now if you search for "Justin Bieber Heartbreaker lyrics," the Rap Genius result won't show up until the sixth page.
TechCrunch called Google's search engine justice "pretty harsh." But compared to other junky lyrics sites, perhaps Cutts expected more from a company with $16 million in venture capital that promised an "Internet Talmud" that would drop "knowledge on knowledge" and ultimately "annotate the world," according to investor Marc Andreessen.
The cofounders of Rap Genius had already apologized and admitted they "effed up" before Google's decimated their rankings. In a statement to TechCrunch today, Rap Genius said it was working with Google to resolve the issue.
"We are working with Google right now to resolve this. 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.
It sucks to be off Google for us and for the thousands of our community members who have worked so hard to create what's often the best search result.
We hope everyone who reads this will take a little time out from their Christmas and head to Rap Genius and sign up so you can contribute your knowledge on your favorite subjects – becoming a member of our community makes the site way more fun. Merry Christmas"
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