Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Should RapGenius be able to "negotiate" with Matt Cutts and Google?
122 points by pccampbell on Dec 25, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments
I started my tech career working in Adwords Sales and Sales Operations at Google. One of the biggest complaints we received was our clients needed help getting ahold of someone regarding SEO problems. Of course, there was little we could do on the paid side - which was Google's policy.

The whole point of Google's ranking algorithm is to keep it as much of a black box as possible with even Jason Calacanis getting nowhere with his Mahalo battle with Matt Cutts and team.

I'm uncomfortable with what appears to be almost a direct line the RapGenius gents have with the Google team to come to what they've coined as a "resolution" between the two entities.

With thousands of other sites being unable to get ahold of a human being at Google to resolve SEO problems, do you think RapGenius should have the ability to negotiate with Google? Do they have enough traffic to justify the conversation? Should that matter?




I've said it a couple of times. Google (with others like Facebook, Apple) is so big, its essentially infrastructure, and needs to be regulated.

It's not just that they can penalize other companies, and competitors (wheter they have a "legitimate" reason or not). They can make people's ideas, political positions, etc. essentially disappear.

A stupid example: If they wanted to oppress trade unions, they could penalize every page with information about unions when someone searches for "workers' rights". More likely, they could work with oppressive governments to remove certain unpleasant historical events from people's sight.

I wonder why the European Union doesn't do anything... they used to be very strict about antitrust laws, privacy, etc.. Probably someone has to step up and sue Google for them to get active. I could think of a few things they could do here.

- One is to force Google to make their rankings more transparent.

- Google could have offer a kind of appeals process if a manual penalty is applied.

- The EU could put a special tax on the market leader, which would fund a subsidy for promising competitors. (Google's European office is currently registered in a low tax haven in Ireland.)

None of this is without precedent, but there would have to be the right political intent to get something like this started.

And before someone says Google is not in the EU's jurisdiction: Europe is a huge market. They have already fought antitrust trials with Microsoft, and MS could have said "screw you guys" and stopped doing business here, but instead they paid their penalties, because anything else would have been crazy. And if the EU is not going to do it, there are very self-conscious governments in Brazil, China, and India that might put pressure on Google & co..

(OTOH, we know that Governments like monopolists like Google when they help them censor and surpress information, but that's a different topic.)


> its essentially infrastructure, and needs to be regulated.

What? That's silly. Then a competitor offering not that would start to take a foothold the way Google took its foothold from the existing giants....In fact, it is happening right now with things like http://leap2.com/ or https://duckduckgo.com/. If you're concerned about the size of that competition, then I'd remind you that Google didn't exist even 16 years ago. Which means there is plenty of chance for a small company to come up and start eating Google's lunch in areas they've lost their way. (I think search is actually one of the big ones)


I'm sorry but this is what bothers me the most about unregulated capitalism. You are discounting the massive advantage Google and other corporations have which they have accumulated over the years in the form of:

  * IP and patents
  * Actual employees and knowledge capital
  * Actual working designs and infrastructure
  * Brand recognition
  * Amount of businesses that rely on them
If you say that a new startup can just start building a computer to rival the iMac, for example, you're missing the 1000 little things that go into it. Sure, your competitor might have a more open operating system, say. But it won't have the agreements with chip manufacturers. It won't have the "retina" displays, or other technology that Apple has accumulated over the years.

At some point, the giant corporations just have too much for a startup to defeat. That's why most startups are basically picking off one little part and then the corporations buy them. It used to be that NEW technology was where startups were able to expand while old players couldn't adapt fast enough. For example, Microsoft was still small when the PC software revolution came about. However, now with "moonshots" and ambitious VC activity, the corporations have set up quite a few obstacles to that happening anymore.


IP and patents are not "unregulated capitalism" they are actually political creations enforced by a legal regime.


ok, but even without these things the corporation has a massive head start and exclusive connections

even if it's not with governments, it's with other corporations


don't forget giant legal teams


  * IP and patents
  * Actual employees and knowledge capital
  * Actual working designs and infrastructure
  * Brand recognition
  * Amount of businesses that rely on them
All of those things competitors like Microsoft had. There was still room for Google to rise. Microsoft is playing catch up with search and now IE. Google is trying to catch up with social, and even in the social place, there was a hashtag for Twitter overlayed on A Christmas Story yesterday.


there's also behavioral patterns people develop "I'll just google it" and the simplicity of picking the biggest entity for people who arn't interested in technology.

People arn't rational, and even if google is filtering out political sites performing propaganda through omission, there will be a huge population of people that either wouldn't hear about it, or wouldn't care.

The free market doesn't fix everything.


Using Google as a verb (ie. "just google it") is actually behavior the company discourages, or at least used too. It severely devalues the brand by generalizing the term. For example, do you really go shopping for Kleenex or do you just go buy the facial tissue you prefer, or is on sale, while referring to it as Kleenex?

The fear is "just google it" becoming synonymous with search - even if that search occurs on Bing, etc.


You changed my opinion on this. Google needs to fix the page rank algorithm.


duckduckgo is an aggregate search engine. They do index certain crowdsourced sites but the rest of their results come from partnerships with other search engines from wiki " and from partnerships with other search engines like Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing and WolframAlpha.[3]"

I have tried to search for where leap2 are getting their results from without finding anything substantial. There is fluff about "living search engine", "social search engine" and a few others. I find no evidence for (or against) that they have their own full Internet search engine.

The problem for new companies trying to take on Google is the immenseness of their infrastructure. Lets say you want to start your own search engine.

You have a great idea, some idea for your crawler, etc. Given that you dont have 10 000s of servers to store and run distributed searches etc you are at a great disadvantage. Can you do it with 5 servers in the cloud? How much space does one complete index of the entire internet take now?

Back when Google started, their hardware was modest.


> Google [...] is so big, its essentially infrastructure, and needs to be regulated.

Not sure I agree, but let's see why you think it's necessary:

> More likely, they could work with oppressive governments to remove certain unpleasant historical events from people's sight.

...um, that's an example of government regulation of Google. You can't use preventing X as a reason for implementing X. That's like saying you should smoke cigarettes to make sure you don't get cancer. >.<

What you seem to be saying is "I trust the EU, and I wish they would regulate Google AND their regulations would trump the regulations of all the other governments I don't trust". Unfortunately, that's not how the world works.


I've said it a couple of times. Google (with others like Facebook, Apple) is so big, its essentially infrastructure, and needs to be regulated.

That's been obvious for the better part of a decade now. People will scream bloody murder, and not without good cause, but it's either going to happen, or there's no point in even pretending to regulate public utility monopolies.


Google is neither a public utility, nor a monopoly. You can always use one of dozens of other search engines. In fact, if you felt that Google was so bad, you can simply suggest others do so as well. Why does the government need to get in there and make Google the exact search engine you want, rather than the search engine that, clearly, the bulk of their customers want?


I'm not making the case for regulation. I'm just saying that it will be made, and when it is, it will be hard to argue against because of actions like this one.

You can always use one of dozens of other search engines.

That won't help Google any more than it helped Microsoft.


> That won't help Google any more than it helped Microsoft.

I'd love to see the comparison as to how Microsoft's strong-arming of VARs to sell only their products and Google's penalizing RG for attempting to subvert their search engine rankings relate.


The issues you're raising around Google don't seem at all the ones that ultimately got Microsoft smacked down.


I'm pretty sure the EU is itching to start regulating Google in Europe, but to do that they'll need to find a point of leverage somewhere and so far that's been hard to find.

Put another way: exactly what about Google could they (practically) regulate and will have sufficient public support?

In essence the problem tis about Google being able to wield disproportionate power through it's rankings and our common sense telling us that they will eventually abuse this if left unchecked; but that they aren't abusing this too blatantly just yet.

Not that that's of any help for people like my friend who ran a (handwritten) long tail content generation company which worked hard to stay within Google's guidelines yet had the company he and 3 friends had worked on for 4 years destroyed overnight just months ago when someone at Google decided they didn't like the content and penalized every single one of his clients.


Actually, one could argue they already are abusing it and are doing so with increasing frequency.

They've been tailoring search results to cut out the specialized aggregators, like including their own shopping results above other stores.

The obvious one you've probably seen recently is movies. They now show the actors, related films and rankings, depriving views and ad space from the sites that offered that information.

They've also been doing it with maps for years for search terms like 'x in y city' as well as entering the ratings business. This content is often poor, but I imagine every click into an aggregator is a loss to google as the ad spend potentially goes on that aggregator instead of google.

You could see all of these are attempting to circumvent other businesses and abusing their monopoly. But I imagine none of these businesses want to complain as to be shut out of Google on the internet is death. You can't tell google to not steal your content, without telling them to not list your content.

They seem to justify it with claims that they're just giving searchers what they want, but in the end they own the highways, and now they seem to be putting their own facades up in front of a significant number of the businesses along the highway too which means they have to advertise on google just to get above google's own internal adverts.

Perhaps I'm misinterpreting, but actual search results often seem to appear a very, very long way down the page on a lot of terms these days.


I like the customized search results. They're more often than not helpful to me.

If I want the weather in a city I'm visiting, why wouldn't I want it on the google page, instead of another click away?

The rest of the Internet has no natural right to views and clicks sent their way from google. If google gives users the best search results (among the more than half-dozen credible search engines), users will use them. Do enough hostile things to users and users will go elsewhere. If their competition improves while they stay stagnant, they will also start to lose market share.

Google is improving Google's offering. That's laudable, because it helps Google's users and Google's financials.


Did your friend write about what happened to him anywhere?


You can bet anything that Google is A/B testing revenue each time it does an index/penguin/panda update. All you need to do is compare Adwords revenue from Google owned sites versus partner sites to see what is happening.


As a member of Google's algorithmic search quality team, I wish I could take that bet against you. :-)


Not going into all the regulation talk (partly because don't believe that Google needs regulation as another search engine is just an address bar/couple of clicks away) but with regards to:

  "One is to force Google to make their rankings more transparent."
Google does not care about SEO; they care about bad SEO. You can see this from their Webmaster Help Videos[1] to saying how they 'serve' the results[2] to explaining how their search engine works[3].

It also becomes more apparent within their Webmaster Guidelines[4] that, they do not like bad SEO.

You can easily use all of that knowledge to figure it out.

  "Google could have offer a kind of appeals process if a manual penalty is applied"
They do. It's called a reconsideration request[5]

  "The EU could put a special tax on the market leader, which would fund a subsidy for promising competitors. (Google's European office is currently registered in a low tax haven in Ireland.)"
That would actually discourage anyone from making a decent product. Why? Well if you make a good one people will use it, you will become market leader and you will receive a special tax.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/GoogleWebmasterHelp

[2] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/70897?hl=en#3

[3] https://www.google.com/intl/en_us/insidesearch/howsearchwork...

[4] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

[5] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35843?hl=en


Google does not care about SEO; they care about bad SEO.

They should care about delivering the best quality search results to their users, and nothing else. As a user, I don't give a crap about SEO or link farming ethics or anything else. That stuff is Google's problem. By penalizing what is (reportedly) the best lyrics site, Google has made their problem my problem.

A fair page ranking system would be entirely transparent, rigidly enforced, and not "punitive." Should they delist RapGenius for breaking the rules? Sure, if the rules themselves provide for that outcome. But the second the infraction is corrected, the penalty should end, and the site should be restored to its proper rank.

Google is not a government agency. The more they act like one, the more people will treat them like one. Believe me, they aren't going to like where that road goes.


  "They should care about delivering the best quality search results to their users, and nothing else"
That's why they focus on Bad SEO because it means that they won't be showing the best results to their users. Bad SEO means manipulating the results to rank instead of, showing the best results to users.

  "A fair page ranking system would be entirely transparent, rigidly enforced"
They penalised RapGenius for breaking their Webmaster Guideines[1] which are both transparent and enforced.

  "But the second the infraction is corrected, the penalty should end, and the site should be restored to its proper rank."
That's actually how it works. As I tweeted to Josh on Twitter[2] this actually happens to all sites once they've got themselves out of a penalty and the Google Algorithms trust the site again.

[1] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

[2] https://twitter.com/profitbaron/status/415918373575213056


So it's not the case that a 30-day penalty period is being enforced against them, as several other posts have claimed? If so, I stand corrected.


The people who are claiming that do not know anything about SEO. They're pulling figures from fresh air. For instance, in the case of JC Penney[1] it took them 90 days to recover from their penalty but it took Interflora[2] 11 days etc.

The penalty is applied until, the site fall backs into the Google Guidelines[3]. Google actually helps Webmasters to get their site back in line with their guidelines through informing them what type of penalty[4] it is. For instance, if it is a link penalty like Rap Genius has, Google shows example links within Webmaster Tools (usually 3 of them) to provide insight, on links which Google considers to be falling outside of those guidelines.

However, the links which are going to be affecting Rap Genius were predominantly because of the "tweet-for-links" system, the identification and removal of links should be relatively quick and straightforward.

[1] http://searchengineland.com/90-days-later-google-lets-j-c-pe...

[2] http://searchengineland.com/interflora-gets-google-rankings-...

[3] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

[4] https://support.google.com/webmasters/topic/2604771?hl=en&re...


Am I missing something basic or are comments like this reflective of a level of trust in government that borders on religious faith? Let me get this straight: Google search has risen to the level of infrastructure and, because of the ability for them to "make people's ideas, political positions, etc. essentially disappear.", we should have the government regulate internet search. Did I get that right? Yeah, 'cuz the government has no motivation in silencing unwanted political speech. Oh, and it also has a great track record of ensuring the free exchange of ideas, etc.


Apple does not have anywhere near 50%+ market share in any business that they're in (more like 5-20%, depending on the product category), so I don't think they belong in the "regulated infrastructure" category. They're not the biggest player in any market, and therefore have no monopoly power to abuse.

One big reason why they're so successful is that they don't try to be everything to everyone, but this has a side effect of ensuring that they can never attain even majority market share in any one product category (in the long term, at least), which appears to be fine by them.

The one exception may be dedicated MP3 players but I'm not sure that that market has been really meaningful for the last 5 years at least.


Size alone doesn't make something "essential infrastructure". A lack of alternatives does.


Right. Anything that would materially affect your life if it were closed or shut off on Christmas is "essential infrastructure."


Anything... like HN? Should this be regulated?


So... Walmart? (I'm a last minute kind of guy!)

Plenty of things materially affect my life that are not essential infrastructure.


There's precedent for forcing companies to speak with the government's voice? Does it come from democratic countries, and if so, has it survived confrontation with courts, revolution, or war?


> Google (with others like Facebook, Apple) is so big, its essentially infrastructure, and needs to be regulated.

Maybe I'm out in left field here, but I thought that one of the hallmarks of infrastructure was a monopoly due to geographical concerns - it wouldn't make sense to run twelve different parallel power grids all over town. There is no such constraint here. Google, Facebook, etc are all big, but there's no lack of place to run power lines in play to stop a competitor from competing in their space (See DuckDuckGo, for example).


The EU (and individual member states) is doing something, both on the privacy and the anti-trust front. In fact, several agencies have already given Google a "final" warning.

If Google persists in it's arrogant "fuck you, we are the great untouchable Google" attitude, the gloves are going to come off soon enough. It will still be slow process that could take many years though.


> If Google persists in it's arrogant "fuck you, we are the great untouchable Google" attitude

I don't find Larry Page or Sergey Brin likable but I've certainly never gotten that vibe from them.


Matt Cutts should also probably recuse himself from this issue. He is an investor in a YC round and multiple YC companies. That's an obvious conflict of interest, whether or not it affects the outcome.

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/disclosure/


For what it's worth, Matt Cutts has historically put his responsibility as head of webspam above other interests. For example, he's penalized Google itself.

http://searchengineland.com/google-chrome-page-will-have-pag...

There's still a conflict of interest, and it is possible he is giving his interests more leniency.


Side note: it's interesting that he continues to serve in this position for many years. I see a lot of directors/managers shift around, but not really him.


He has no legal obligation to recuse himself and the fact that he and his team appear to have handled this situation in exactly the proper way speaks to the fact that there's no reason for him to do so for public image reasons.

It ain't broke, don't fix it.


He's unfortunately the SEO poster child though, which is hard. Do you think there should be any line of communication between Google and a site for SEO?

I'm torn on whether or not there should be a more formal process or they should just keep it completely locked up.


I agree that there should be a more formal process, but I think Matt has done an absolutely sterling job.


Agreed, especially in the different SEO conversations that flair up (Calacanis at Mahalo, Google's problems, etc.). Just the way the RapGenius gents have said their talking with Google about a "resolution" is unsettling without a more formal process laid out.


> do you think RapGenius should have the ability to negotiate with Google

No.

> Do they have enough traffic to justify the conversation

Yes, maybe.

> I'm uncomfortable with what appears to be almost a direct line the RapGenius gents have with the Google team to come to what they've coined as a "resolution" between the two entities.

So am I.

In the past I have seen Google responding and resolving penalization with some sites, where in the problem lay in the internally, with intentional/unintentional shady practices.

I have no problems with this.

But RG took some of their activities to a whole different level, one that I have seen before by blackhat marketers only. Just like I would not expect blackhat marketers to get away with it, I would not like Google or any other search engine to open doors to the possibility of people who got caught to have an easy out.

Maintaining neutrality and upholding previously established best practices would also be fair to any new start-ups that may want to enter the lyrics space.


It was essentially the same tactic as comment lurkers, IMHO.


explain.


I found ridiculous so many things here:

1. Their black SEO practice around Justin Bibier as they call themselves RapGenius (LOL)

2. Those are the guys we're talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NAzQPll7Lo (show me love ...yes)

3. They were 100% illegal, beside the big investment they got, they didn't pay copyrighters for using their lyrics. http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/11/13/rap_genius_co...

Now that said, why the hell someone like Google has to negotiate with them ?

b


The difficulty from the standpoint of Google is the absurd scale that they have to deal with. Indeed, a mission of indexing all information and making it immediately available is a daunting one.

I get the sense that HN feels like these penalties are a rare thing; this type of ranking penalty is happening to an absurd amount of websites every day. If you were to rank the number of websites that received a manual penalty from Google on the same day as RapGenius by amount of traffic, my guess would be RapGenius wouldn't be in the top 10. They're not in a position to "negotiate" with Google, and Google doesn't "negotiate." They slap your wrist when they find you doing something dirty, and you try to recover your reputation. The only reason Google would try to work with RapGenius would be because of the PR RapGenius can generate, which appears to be happening, but there's no way they will just remove the penalty. My guess is at best RapGenius will get an expedited path to have the same options as any other site owner.

The only recourse a website owner has when they have received a manual penalty is to disavow bad links, and hope that somehow they've identified all of the bad links in their link disavow. This is a nefarious process for even the best of SEOs, and the process is quite poor; I've even discussed this with Matt Cutts in the past, but it's understandable considering the scale Google has to deal with. You can't exactly have people taking phone calls. And in Google's defense, they only penalize you if you were trying something sketchy anyway, so it's your fault for playing with fire (except in the case of negative SEO, but that's another discussion).

That said, while this ban will hurt RapGenius in the short-term, the penalty likely won't last forever. And considering that it doesn't appear that they're monetizing, it's not like they're losing revenue, just traffic for a short-term. Penalties like this, if properly disavowed, usually last about 30 days.

Interestingly enough, I'm unsure how much the SEO spam would have helped RapGenius in the first place; all of the links would have had the exact same anchor text, which raises some red flags for Rap Genius. I'm not sure of the kind of scale they were trying to hit with the blogs, but it was likely either 1. Not going to move the needle or 2. Become so big it would hurt them. Even disregarding ethics of anti-black-hat SEO, it really was just a poor move on the part of Rap Genius SEO-wise.

"Move fast and break stuff" can come back and bite you sometimes, but I'm confident RapGenius will figure it out in the end.


This is the way it's supposed to work. This doesn't appear how it's working with RapGenius:

TC article: http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/25/google-rap-genius/

"Update: Rap Genius’ founders have provided this statement, indicating they’re working with Google on being returned to better search result rankings:

... (statement from RapGenius talking about resolution)

"Looks like Rap Genius and Google might come to some compromise where Google restores at least some of the startup’s search result ranking juice in exchange for it cleaning up its act. However, at least some of the decreased visibility is likely to stick around for a long time, impeding Rap Genius’ business. We’ll have more details on the outcome of the talks as soon as possible and we are awaiting a response from Google."


We've seen nothing from Google suggesting this is happening. My guess is that Rap Genius are being overly generous with what negotiations are going on. E.g. Google Webmaster Tools are showing why the penalty is happening (that's what Google's brought to the table) and Rap Genius is fixing what it says their.

I doubt there's any sort of quid pro quo going on here.


"Update: Rap Genius’ founders have provided this statement, indicating they’re working with Google on being returned to better search result rankings"

That could easily mean "We are using the tools Google provide to everyone to fix our stuff" but by phrasing it the way they did they make themselves seem important because

A) They are working "with" Google (Like an equal)

B) They are important because Google is paying attention to them.

I sincerely hope what they have written is just hyperbole and the reality is they are not getting any special help.


that actually fits with their pompous "YOLO" attitude


"restores at least some of the startup’s search result ranking juice in exchange for it cleaning up its act"

As I tweeted to Josh on Twitter[1] this actually happens to all sites once they've got themselves out of a penalty and the Google Algorithms trust the site again.

[1] https://twitter.com/profitbaron/status/415918373575213056


My interpretation is that Google may be willing to inform them better about what is considered legitimate and what is not. Then, their ranking will be returned as time goes on.


My feeling on what's going to happen here is a shortening of the time in "as time goes on." As in, as soon as RapGenius shows Google they've cleaned up, Google will poke GoogleBot to jump RapGenius's queue-position in PageRank re-calculation.


That's the point of the quesion! Why should they be able to enter into a dialogue with google right smack in the middle of the holidays when others can't get a hold of anyone in google anytime in the regular calendar?


It's not clear what kind of dialogue they mean. From my reading, it could be pretty much talking to a google 800 number and they made it sound like they were being treated specially to spin their screwup to the public and investors.


> They're not in a position to "negotiate" with Google, and Google doesn't "negotiate."

I would get pretty frustrated and angry in that situation, and given that Rapgenius' founders seem to be pretty immature, they are probably extremely angry. So...

I wonder if there is a "nuclear option" for Rapgenius they can threaten Google with. What could they do that would create so much damage that it would force Google to move (possibly at expense of Rapgenius' business)?

Throw their entire capital into a probably fruitless lawsuit? Create fake sites and spend all the money on SEO, then litter Google's search results (but not Bing's) with obscenities? Hire old fashioned thugs to clean up the Googleplex? Get together with other disgruntled people and start a dirt campaign?

(I guess I have an unhealthy fascination for evil (rap-)genius schemes...)


> Hire old fashioned thugs to clean up the Googleplex?

Clearly they should join forces with those anti-gentrification protesters that keep smashing the Google bus windows.


Suing Google for libel because Google misrepresents them as a dead company through purposely hiding them from customers who search for them on Google?

It's a reasonable conclusion for searchers to make that RapGenius doesn't exist anymore because they doesn't exist on Google, just like it's reasonable to assume that businesses removed from the Yellow Pages doesn't exist anymore.



> Suing Google for libel because Google misrepresents them as a dead company through purposely hiding them from customers who search for them on Google?

People who search for RapGenius on Google will find plenty of information that indicates that they are a live company, so that would be ludicrous on its face.

With Google sitting on billions in cash, I don't see how any frivolous lawsuit that RapGenius could afford to pursue without committing suicide would force them to move.

> It's a reasonable conclusion for searchers to make that RapGenius doesn't exist anymore because they doesn't exist on Google

They do exist on Google. If you search for them, there is plenty of information about them.

Sure, you won't get a direct link to their site, but there is plenty of evidence that they exist that Google provides, including explanations of why the direct link doesn't appear. (E.g., for me right now, the first result if I search for "Rap Genius" is a news result with a time of "3 hours ago" titled "Google punishes Rap Genius for manipulative SEO tactics".

I don't think that anyone would reasonably conclude from that the RapGenius doesn't exist any more.


Haha, I don't think you know what libel is.


"You can't exactly have people taking phone calls..."

you know what's absurd? That people still believe that it would be impossible for Google to set up some support lines. They make over 10billion dollars per year in pure profit for heavens sake, and have the belief of the public market investors behind them. It should be clear now that the feigned impracticality of the support lines is simply a ruse to maximize profits.


Is there any evidence that Google is negotiating with them? As far as I've seen, the only reason to think that is happening is that rap genius claimed they are as part of their attempted damage control. Most companies are basically shut down over Christmas and I doubt people at Google have been spending this week negotiating with them. What am I missing that led you to the opposite conclusion?


That was my thought too. The RG statement strongly implies that Google are helping them to "resolve" an "issue", which makes the whole thing sound like some technical glitch that Google and RG are coordinating as equals to resolve. In fact, RG just got caught blatantly trying to game their Google search ranking and Google righteously slapped them down for it. I would be surprised (and disappointed) if it turned out that any meaningful negotiation had taken place.


Google did not say they were 'negotiating' with RapGenius. The claim about 'working with' comes from RapGenius. It could be that RapGenius is mistaken or just thinking optimistically.

Let's see what happens but it seems like a stretch that Google would feel compelled to 'negotiate' with RapGenius.


I don't see why RapGenius should get a better customer service than everybody else from Google (i.e. none at all). Being able to negotiate anything at all would be way better than what paying customers (e.g. AdWords) get these days ...


I also think it's pretty bad how the RG guys seem to be able to invoke Google at will.Especially considering how they've broken almost the most basic of Ranking Rules and used black hat techniques.

I'd like a direct response from someone in charge from Google. Why, and how, are the RG guys getting 1 on 1 support?


Article on getting ahold of Google: http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/006900.html

Funny how most of the ways to get a response involve causing a scene to get attention for an answer.


No - SEO is not a game to play in grey area, its a risk that they took by depending upon SERP for their source of traffic.


I definitely agree. You need to treat Google SEO like any other platform that you build on. I'm curious to see if their negotiation on a resolution is met with deaf ears by the Google team. Google wins everything, and I hope they keep the penalty, even attacking the rest of the lyric ecosystem.

Need to protect the user by ensuring fairness, IMHO.


I agree, if they give rapgenius leniency it would mean a double standard exists at Google regarding their core product that we have come to trust. Already duckduckgo is gaining more popularity because some of the trust regarding our privacy has really gone down for a good reason (Snowden).


Do you think DuckDuckGo can play the long game though? #GoogleWinsEverything


    >I'm uncomfortable with what appears to be almost a direct line the RapGenius gents have with the Google team to come to what they've coined as a "resolution" between the two entities.
What do you mean by this, was there another update since the initial penalty was levied? RG still appears to be gone from the serps.


I think this is what the comment was referring to:

(the statement released by RG)

"We are working with Google right now to resolve this. They’ve been really great, helping us identify changes we need to make, even on Christmas. We’re working on it as fast as we can, and expect to be back on Google very soon."

http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/25/google-rap-genius/


Maybe a Google employee is reading to them reaalllly slowly from the webmaster guidelines. It's Christmas, after all. Then again, "RTFM and leave me alone, it's Christmas!" would also be an understandable response... but I'm not gonna judge the Googz for being down with a more patient approach, and dropping some knowledge on grasshoppers in dire need.


I'm confused, is there a new development? what do you mean by negotiate? The last thing I read on this was that they were penalized. Are they back in the SERPs?


Google can do whatever they want. If I was the victim of a public name and shame like this which included a very public Google punishment, I'd think it would be in Google's best interest to make an example of me and to make an example of how to get back in their good graces. Google may have shitty customer service, but they don't want it to appear that way in a high-profile case.


Where do you see this "direct line"? I've seen no sign of that.


I'm happy every time it's made clear that search engine results are the product of subjective factors and aren't "fair". It bolsters the argument that their results are expressive and protected as such, shielding them from interference by politicians.


There's a good chance that they're gaining page hits from this controversy and, knowing the founders of Rap Genius (vaguely), I wouldn't be surprised if they capitalize and conjure as much attention as possible here.

On a slightly different note, it doesn't seem right for Google to intervene with specific companies' page rankings. Although Google isn't breaking laws, the "black box" type of generic algorithm seems more ethical. Rather than favoring individual groups/sites/corporations, I think Google should maintain credibility by encompassing all rules, regulations, and penalties within one algorithm. Search engine results shouldn't be subjective.


Out-of-band information can't practically be analyzed through algorithms (at least, not without getting a lot spookier). They know that a company is in violation of their link-sharing rules; acting on that doesn't seem unfair.


The fact that Rapgenius claimed to be in negotiations with Google does not mean that they are in fact having some sort of "migration to white hat strategy" personal meeting with Cutts in the same room.

"Live" person at Google might as well be delivering the old same beaten up "write unique content" and "remove bad links" message to them, albeit in personalized format.

I don't think rapgenius is big enough to buy Google a drink for a free personalized SEO tips.


This is a slippery slope. You have to keep in mind that >2% (some estimates as high as 7%) of Google Queries are related to lyrics/ RG related content. They also (arguably) have much better, much more relevant content. As such a large amount of google searches would end up with someone wanting a RapGenius page - it's only fair that they would get preferential treatment over a niche startup/site/blog.



the rankings will be restored. rich, successful ppl always get their way


No. RapGenius broke the rules, and the punishment is temporary. Suck it up, take your medicine, and don't do it again.


They should just receive links to usual webmaster recommendations and Cutts' YouTube. And that should be it.


They shouldn't, but they probably will due to their investor.


No.


Fuck no.




Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: