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Chances are that if you have ever questioned a lyric and typed the song and artist in the search bar of Google, you have seen Rap Genius pop up. Rap Genius, an annotative lyric site, has gained considerable attention over the last few years through recognition by music blogs and contributing writers for publications like The Huffington Post and Esquire. When you search “Rap Genius” on Google, it is always the top result. If you looked up a lyric search, Rap Genius is almost always in the top three. That is, until Christmas day, 2013, when Google presented Rap Genius with a big lump of coal.
In the early morning of December 25th, Google reprimanded Rap Genius for breaking their SEO guidelines. Subsequently, when you searched “Rap Genius” on Google, the site itself did not appear until the 6th page. Bloggers and publications alike started questioning how the ever-growing and successful site managed to abuse search engine optimization in such a harsh way that Google responded with such a punishment.
Rap Genius had started embedding links of irrelevant music lists to their posts, and asked contributing bloggers to do the same, promising them site traffic as long as they posted the provided link.
Google has strict rules regarding SEO. In their Search Engine Optimization Guidelines, Google states that they will not tolerate misleading marketing. This includes irrelevant link posting, as Rap Genius was doing. According to Google, it is not only unfair to the user, but it manipulates the search engine, potentially causing top results to be inorganic.