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Google Makes Example of
Google Makes Example of 'Rap Genius' as SEO Violator

By Jennifer LeClaire
December 26, 2013 2:09PM

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Creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of Google's guidelines. In some cases, Rap Genius said it failed to ensure that the links people posted were natural. Rap Genius said that's where it messed up and why it has earned Google's ire.
 

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Google just made an example out of Rap Genius. The search engine giant removed the rap music Web site from the top of its results after alleging it was working to outmaneuver Google’s algorithm.

Rap Genius allows users and artists to explore lyrics interactively via line-by-line annotations they can read, create, and edit. Now, when people search for Rap Genius, they no longer find any direct links to the Web site. Searchers instead find the site’s social media accounts, news article and Wikipedia page.

What went wrong? Rap Genius operators, who won $15 million in funding from Andreesson Horowitz in 2012, explained its strategy and revealed where it went wrong. Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

Big Misunderstanding?

“That’s our main SEO strategy: to create an amazing experience for users and hope they prefer us to all other lyrics sites and link to us,” the company said in a blog post. “We believe that any unbiased user would prefer the Rap Genius version over the alternatives -- and that this advantage in quality is responsible for the majority of our search traffic.”

The company's other strategy, which it employs on a much smaller scale, is to find blogs whose content they think followers will enjoy and ask them to link pages on Rap Genius that are relevant to their posts.

“We actually thought we had set this up to be compliant with Google’s linking policy in its Terms of Service, but we messed up and want to explain how,” the company said. For example, Google’s terms of service declare that sites cannot buy or sell links that pass PageRank. That includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for that person writing about it and including a link.

“We’ve never bought or sold links,” the company said. “We do provide exposure on our Twitter and Facebook feed (not rapgenius.com) for fans that link to us, if and only if they send us good content. We don’t tweet out weak content because our followers won’t like it, and we don’t want links to Rap Genius placed on irrelevant or poorly written blogs.”

The Big Mess Up

Although Rap Genius extends an open invitation to all bloggers to reach out to the site -- and claims it responds to all who do -- its policy is to only promote the people who send good and relevant content. But Google’s terms also state: "Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines." (continued...)

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Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

DeGoogleMe:

Posted: 2013-12-28 @ 6:10pm PT
Frankly, who does Google think they are? They are the first to get money for links. If advertisers would not pay for links, most link spam, SEO, click hijacking viruses and other side effects would not happen. Google should stop getting paid for links before telling others how to behave.

Craig thomas:

Posted: 2013-12-26 @ 9:15pm PT
I have found much new and useful information in this article. Thank you for sharing the information you posted.



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