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We're investigating this now.

Got their attention. Looks like they are changing their tune. 

@jasonjm75 @randfish feel stupid in retrospect - gonna stop - but I hope google revisits how ALL lyrics sites do SEO! our competition is... doing some ULTRA shady stuff! I have no doubt in my mind that they pay for links

https://twitter.com/RapGenius/status/415297097072537601 https://twitter.com/RapGenius/status/415297158896553985

In all fairness, rapgenius does have some of the best content and it really is the best information for lyrics. It sucks they have to resort to this to get good information above spammy lyrics sites.

I actually thought rapgenius was a good idea solely because the alternative was spammy almost like before stackoverflow. So yes it is wrong in every way to manipulate the system but how can you get noticed if others are doing it. If anything they shined a light on the problem and the better information should win in google which is fair.

> So yes it is wrong in every way to manipulate the system but how can you get noticed if others are doing it. If anything they shined a light on the problem and the better information should win in google which is fair.

I really don't buy this post hoc justification of RapGenius's actions. I understand the world is a complex place where we often have to make compromises, but saying "Poor RapGenius, forced into using black hat SEO" is kind of ridiculous. These guys (or at least the guy in charge of "growth hacking") enthusiastically made quid pro quo deals for backlinks.

I try to be polite on the Internet, but all I can say is fuck that.

> In all fairness, rapgenius does have some of the best content and it really is the best information for lyrics.

I agree... which is why it's a shame that I'm going to look elsewhere from now on.

If you don't mind me asking, why is this such a big deal to you that you would stop going to Rap Genius? As a music lover myself, I consistently go back to Rap Genius because I know they have the most interesting content.

I don't understand why you would be willing to abandon that because a claim (although it seems to be justified) that they might be breaking a rule created by a corporate entity that is often used to enforce their own agenda - putting Google+ results up top in results seems much, much worse than this to me!

How can the proprietary Google ranking algorithm be such holiness that a simple infraction causes such vitriol?

Well, I can't say I'm happy about Google's self-promotion either.

I guess I see Google search as this key entry point into the Web. By using backlinks as input for ranking results, Google is tapping into the power of social proof to organize this massive amount of information. When you cheat that system -- when you make deals for backlinks -- you're undermining the integrity of this system, and you're degrading the quality of people's interactions with it.

I might just be overly sensitive about this, but I really dislike when people cheat systems to gain an advantage.

I appreciate that. I guess personally I just don't know whether or not a system like this can ever truly be fair, especially when controlled by a corporate entity. Not that it's bad or wrong or that a corporate entity controls it, but it makes the notion of cheating less "right or wrong."

In fact, you or I might not have ever even learned about Rap Genius to begin with without antics like this!

Unfortunately the best content doesn't just win. Rules often favor the people already in power and who abide by the rules - or broke the previous ones to get there. Every "system" is flawed in the same way that connections and money are a "cheat" to help you out in life.

These guys weren't always at the top of results but they managed to get there, and I still recommend the service - I've never recommended another lyrics site in my life.

If breaking rules got them to where they are, I'm glad because damn is it a superior service to everything else out there.

Google needs to penalize them or else this will encourage others to employ these black-hat techniques in the future. It doesn't matter if RapGenius has the better content or not.

In the entire scheme of things, if RapGenius gets penalized, and their rankings/traffic plummet, and they go out of business, that's a very very small price to pay. If you're Google, fighting this type of spam requires a TON of resources, and they've already done a great job of discouraging it (ppl are actually paying others to remove links now).

I totally agree that it's up to Google to deal with it how they deem fit. There is nothing wrong with a private company altering how they list things.

I originally asked because he seemed to be personally offended that they may have gamed a system put in place by a private company that has financial motives besides just serving you the best content.

Yup, not a valid reason for me to stop a service. Like you said, the rules often favor those alreayd in power

Stackoverflow had the same problem with expertsexchange early on, they didn't resort to it which rapgenius shouldn't have. I am just saying that really the best content should win, here it isn't due to manipulation by other entities not just rapgenius. It might be more of a google problem.

rapgenius might say here, 'don't hate the playa hate teh game son!'

Of course, in an ideal world we wouldn't have a black hat SEO arms race. But as you mentioned, Stack Overflow managed to flourish without resorting to those tactics. The context is important, but it doesn't forgive their actions.

> rapgenius might say here, 'don't hate the playa hate teh game son!'

That's a nice phrase, but I think I'm going to go ahead and hate both.

> Stack Overflow managed to flourish without resorting to those tactics

Well, or Stack Overflow managed to flourish without resorting to those tactics and getting found out.

[subs - please insert dramatic chipmunk here]

I am not sure they are directly comparable - unless rappers themselves are choosing the site, just like programmers themselves (ourselves) voted with our feet. Aren't people searching for lyrics more of a casual browser type?

It's not a right to have your content ranked, even if it's better than others. Google is a business, not a charity.

Google's mission is to make the world's information universally accessible. If rapgenius contains information that other sites do not, and people want that information, it is Google's mission to bring those people to rapgenius.

Take note people.

Said tweets were immediately deleted.

Looks like the tweets got deleted...in any case, am I missing something here. Is the email received by the OP actually sent by a human? RapGenius already has high results...it can't be terribly efficient for a co-founder to be sending manual link requests, right? Terms of service aside

I'm glad they stopped. I'm also glad they deleted this comment, although I would have been happier if they simply never made it. When I read it, I felt like I was watching a toddler who, after being caught cheating, complained "so did Sally!"

Just announce your _mea culpa_, and stop doing it. And, if you need to adopt strategies that do boost your ranks -- _which, given that RapGenius is a great service_, I don't think is long-term necessary -- avoid the patently obvious ones.

Looks like they deleted the tweets.

I was under the impression this kind of thing - a stack of links at the bottom of content, with the same links duplicated across many posts/domains - was automatically penalized through the floor.

How does a famous startup, with such blue chip backing, make such an obvious mistake? Doesn't everyone with even basic SEO knowledge understand this is against Google policies?

I was thinking the same thing. RapGenius is gonna be on the third 'o' soon.

Because they've built a culture of brash shoot from the hip growth at all cost.

"We're investing this now". Those 4 words are the Kiss of Death.

Especially when it's from the "head of the webspam team at Google". It's the start-up equivalent of being called into the principles office.

No kidding

Oddly, you're the second person to have misspelled it as "investing" when quoting it on this thread. Is this like a rogue / rouge thing that people get commonly tripped up on?

Oddly, he's not wrong either: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/disclosure/

Autocorrect is pretty great at turning a typo into an alternate word.

Post above yours also did principle/principal. The one no one seems to mix up is awful/offal.

5 words, right?

For those interested, this type of activity appears to fall under the purview of Google's link schemes content guidelines, discussed here:


Whoa! Was not expecting that so quickly...

It's Christmas, so I'll just say this...

You have the power to put these guys out of business, or give them a break and help them find a way to promote their business in a more "ethical" way.

I hate spam as much as you (founded/exited Defensio), but I think it'd be awesome if you took the unconventional approach, had a call with them and gave them a break to whatever extent you deem appropriate.

Merry Xmas!

Hey Matt Cutts, how does it feel to be responsible for the end of Google as a objective search engine? Blocking RapGenius was a dick move, for years Google has told ppl complaining about ranking that you guys "believe in the algorithm" and refused human interference. RapGenius traded in some of the influence they have built by making a awesome product to boost a few of their search results, just like paying for SEO they payed for the bump they received via depreciating the value of their tweets and influence, if they continued to execute the same strategy on a reg basis their influence would quickly depreciate. Removing them just proves your lack of emotional intelligence and how influence works. I am not affiliated with Rap Genius or Google in any way , but I am now boycotting your search product bc it now known without a doubt googles search results are not organic, objective or algorithm based.....they are based on whatever Matt Cutts feels should be the top result on any given day.

it would be great if you could provide an update about it later on.

thanks for taking care about this.

While you're investigating, take a look at http://HotNewHipHop.com and http://GotBars.com

Both sites exchange tweets with each other. Even GotBars' Twitter description says "We showcase strictly #HipHop & R&B lyrics, working closely w/ @HotNewHipHop to shed new light on the bars of your favorite artists."


In all honesty though, Rap Genius is not the only lyrics website breaking Google's rules. The problem is an epidemic and RG only scratches the surface.


Hilarious.."growth hacking" post aka link exchange nonesense lol

They knew exactly what they were doing. Sorry, but it does serve them right.

Is this against policy?

Tit for tat links should be against policy. Google's search results become quality when people naturally link to something as part of a conversation or sharing.

So where has the investigation reached ?

IS this the real matt cutts????!

what happens if someone is caught manipulating the SERP like this? Does google automatically ban this practice? Why wasn't this caught before? They are backed by $15 million dollars I can't believe they'd resort to this.

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