Rap Genius, a lyrics annotation and interpretation site, was recently hammered by Google after it was discovered that the site was manipulating its search-engine optimization.
According to reports, Google downgraded the site’s results and those who search for “Rap Genius” will get its WikiPedia page, its Twitter and Facebook pages, and news articles rather than its own website.
Rap Genius, according to the Los Angeles Times, was giving deals to bloggers if they linked to the lyrics site on their blogs. In return, Rap Genius gave the bloggers exposure via its social media pages. The bloggers’ links then pushed the Rap Genius webpage up on Google’s search rankings whenever someone would search for lyrics to a song.
But since Google pushed the site down a week ago, its traffic has plummeted.
According to data published by traffic monitoring site Quantcast.com, Rap Genius’s traffic dropped from about 1.3 million unique visitors on Dec. 23–right before Google dropped it–to about 200,000 unique visitors on Monday, Dec. 29.
Google first heard about the website’s linking procedure via a blogger, John Marbach, who contacted the website to see how it got so much traffic. “If you have a dope post that you would like us to tweet out – get you MASSIVE traffic – then put this html [code] at the bottom of the post. . . . I will send that [link] out it will bloooowwwww up!” a representative told him, according to Rolling Stone.
And after Google penalized Rap Genius, the owners sent the search engine giant a coarsely worded letter saying “we effed up.”
“We effed up, other lyrics sites are almost definitely doing worse stuff, and we’ll stop. We’d love for Google to take a closer look at the whole lyrics search landscape and see whether it can make changes that would improve lyric search results,” it reads.
The letter continues in saying that it “messed up” because “in some instances we have fallen short in terms of making sure that the links people post are natural.”
Many websites have speculated that the Google penalty won’t last forever–maybe as long as two months–and after that, Rap Genius likely won’t enjoy the same ranking as before.