Rap Genius' Link Scheme Goes Public Leading To Google Penalty

Dec 26, 2013 • 8:56 am | comments (13) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Rap Genius LogoJohn Marbach outed Rap Genius for masking a link building scheme as an affiliate program. Right before Christmas, Matt Cutts posted first on Hacker News and then on Twitter that Google is looking into it. A day later, Rap Genius was penalized by Google and no longer ranks top for their own name.

That is the long story in a few sentences.

The Facebook post that lead to this was pulled down, but it read this:


John Marbach then reached out and documented what Rap Genius was looking for, which was keyword rich anchor text links on related blog posts. This was in exchange for tweeting about the blog post, resulting in a lot of traffic to the bloggers site. So not in exchange for direct payment, but in exchange for publicity.

Here is that email:

Rap Genius Link Scheme email

Then we saw Matt post on Hacker News and then on Twitter:

Then a day later, Rap Genius was penalized:


The next question is for how long? A week, 11-days, a month, 3 months? That I guess depends on the reconsideration request and if Rap Genius was able to pull down much of the links acquired through these and other link schemes. It also depends on if Google found anything else wrong with the site.

My guess, a month. :)

Forum discussion at Hacker News and then on Twitter.

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12/26/2013 02:24 pm

It seems unfair that a manual penalty for obvious abuse of google's webspam policy gets a 30 day slap, and my site has been algorithmically panda-slapped for over a year now with no communication from Google Webmaster Tools or dear Mr. Cutts.

Nick LeRoy

12/26/2013 02:28 pm

This is bullshit. John marbach is a coward. No room for outing in this industry unless you want enemies.

Alexander Hemedinger

12/26/2013 02:44 pm

30 days? So what about the others that did the same thing and get more than a slap on the wrist?

Alexander Hemedinger

12/26/2013 02:58 pm

They should just be penalized for poor english! Yooo whadddup?


12/26/2013 05:57 pm

What about sites that hack .edu and .gov sites? Google still allows these sites to rank immediately once they acquire links. As an example 702escorts [dot] com a porn or adult escort site has tons of links from .edu and .gov sites and they rank #1 for all their keywords that they're targeting. Submitting a spam report does nothing, they did the same thing last year with .edu and .gov, they have tons of sites in the same vertical and none of Google's spam updates have caught it.


12/26/2013 08:14 pm

google not looking into amazon spam? why no penalty for them (50+1 site) like for this site???

James R. Halloran

12/26/2013 10:42 pm

That is so conspicuous! Why would anyone want to promote themselves like that? It's true Google isn't fair with how long they penalize different sites. The UK flower company Interflora got penalized for something similar and they were back up in less than a week. So, I agree with you -- they could be back up within a month.

Mike Kalil

12/27/2013 02:58 am

Lyric sites tend to be spammy, so I think black hat techniques are necessary to compete. Just like the porn industry. They play by different rules. This ban is bad for users because Rap Genius is one of the few lyrics sites that delivers valuable content and isn't in-your-face with ads.

Ahsan Parwez

12/27/2013 10:27 am

This proves Google algorithm is not good enough and now we can report to Matt Cutts on Twitter so they can manually penalize a website. Rap Genius should have been banned a long time ago.

aishwarya aishu

12/27/2013 02:49 pm

Google algorithm is not good enough and so conspicuous. Google still allows these sites to rank immediately once they acquire links,moreover all and So, I agree with you..

Fede Einhorn

12/28/2013 06:44 am

Yeah, you can't find them in the SERPs now, but just did a quick search and it turns our they got REALLY nice NATURAL backlinks, all about the penalty, once they manage to have the penalty revoked, they still will end up with a lot of high value naturally created backlinks. A call it a WIN (a week, a month without organic traffic, but imagine then...)

Spook SEO

02/02/2014 04:16 am

Sites like this should be penalized immediately. Google algorithm should improve as and will not tolerate this actions. It should not happen again.


03/12/2014 10:48 am

Thanks & Good information provide.

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