Music Tech

RapGenius Busted For Spammy SEO, Immediately Snitches and Begs The Court’s Forgiveness

Rap-genius-logoAnother bad look for RapGenius as they're exposed for spammy SEO techniques triggering an investigation by Google leading to Google search penalties. Despite their "wild and crazy" hip hop persona, their initial response to Google was to snitch on other lyrics sites and beg forgiveness. This disaster follows last month's news that Rap Genius was not licensing all of its lyrics and almost got taken down for piracy.

From ben's blog:
Wait ’til I get my money right
Then you can’t tell me nothing, right?
—Kanye West, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”

Despite a $15 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz, Rap Genius apparently hasn't gotten their money right because they're still getting told what to do.

On Monday John Marbach exposed Rap Genius's offer of Twitter links for any blogger posting specified links to their blog. In the case of John Marbach, he was offered "MASSIVE traffic" and the chance to "bloooowwwww up!" for posting links with Justin Bieber song titles and the word "lyrics" as anchor text.

Note that this is the sort of scheme SEO experts have been warning about this year and I began discussing at Hypebot back in July. I guess they were sleeping!

Unfortunately for Rap Genius, the Googleplex never sleeps and so Google penalized them.

Recognizing that "stop snitchin" only plays in the streets, the wild boys of the web immediately capitulated. As their executive summary stated:

"We effed up, other lyrics sites are almost definitely doing worse stuff, and we’ll stop."

They even have a handy chart of competitors that also do bad things.

It will be interesting to see how Google responds. As ValleyWag notes, this isn't the first time their spammy SEO tactics have been called out but this is the first time the tech press has jumped on.

Note: Apparently they're no longer spamming Google but are now focused on one-on-one Twitter spam.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. Great article! I wonder if Ben Horowitz will pull strings to get the penalty removed.. If so, I for one will be pretty annoyed. My website recently got smacked with a Google penalty and it took a solid 4-5 months to clean up my back link profile and get the penalty revoked. RapGenius needs to put the work in just like every other site that catches a penalty.

  2. Oh the irony. “Put the work in…” It’s hard to be sympathetic when what you call a back link profile is what us wiki, blog and forum operators call comment spam and SEO crap, all abuses of our services. It has been hilarious watching you all beg us to delete it for you now that Google has caught on to your shenanigans. Even your hand-authored comments are barely distinguishable from your spam…case in point above. Good riddance.

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