Google’s Rap Genius Penalty Results In Huge Traffic Declines For The Lyrics Site

rapgenius-logoBefore Christmas, Rap Genius was outed for link schemes and then on Christmas, Google penalized the site for those link schemes. The penalty is still on and a couple metrics sites show huge drops in traffic for the site, some as much as losing 90% of their traffic since the penalty.

Marcus from Search Metrics published the impact this Google penalty had on their search visibility in Google. Marcus noted that there was a 92% drop in search visibility according to their metrics.

Search Metrics tracked hundreds of keywords that were impacted by this penalty, not just their home page but their “whole domain.” The penalties resulted in their keyword rankings dropped off the first page and back to page four, five or worse. Marcus feels that Google “devalued the site’s incoming links and additionally gave them a keyword penalty for the anchor texts of the incoming links.”

Here are charts from Search Metrics and Quantcast, showing the drop:

rapgenius-searchmetrics

rapgenius-quantcast

Here are some of the keywords that took a hit, but there were plenty of others:

loser-rankings_rapgenius.com_

The impact, as you can see, was serious and many links were downgraded and the site’s reputation was harmed.

Christoph Cemper from Link Research Tools did a deep analysis of the links that appeared to be negatively impacting the site. The research showed that the site had an unusual level of deep links and unnatural links. But as you know, Rap Genius was benefiting from these links until someone outed them and Google manually applied a penalty.

It seems, at least for Rap Genius, that the Penguin algorithm had little to no impact on these link schemes deployed by the site.

For more on this story, see:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Link Building: Paid Links | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://wtff.com/ WTFFcom

    Reports about Rap Genius traffic drop were two days ago already. As usual, you just repeated what others said.

    Would be nice to hear your personal opinion.
    Can you, Barry Schwartz, an authority source of information according to Google, analyze this fact :

    “It seems, at least for Rap Genius, that the Penguin algorithm had little to no impact on these link schemes deployed by the site.”

  • Stuart David

    Quantcast is AWFUL, worked with hundreds of sites, they never ever get it right

  • http://federicoeinhorn.com/ Fede Einhorn

    Right, I see several others doing the exact same link scheme and ranking 1st for those terms they are targeting. THE EXACT SAME SCHEME: AN “AFFILIATE” link scheme.

    Report spam, said @MattCutts… yeah, right, as if that worked (I reported them over 20 times in the past year).

  • Durant Imboden

    It seems to be working in this case.

  • http://federicoeinhorn.com/ Fede Einhorn

    It wasn’t the algo, it was actually a manually applied penalty after somebody reported them. I wonder how many reports are actually reviewed by Google, I hear no more than 1 case like this per month, while I bet hundreds of these cases are being reported per week…

  • Durant Imboden

    Exactly. It was a manual penalty, and the resulting publicity for Google’s anti-spam message isn’t costing Google a cent.

    Traffic cops may not stop every speeder, but when speeders see flashing blue lights and another driver pulled over by the side of the road, at least some of those speeders slow down.

  • Durant Imboden

    Exactly. It was a manual penalty, and the resulting publicity for Google’s anti-spam message isn’t costing Google a cent.

    Traffic cops may not stop every speeder, but when speeders see flashing blue lights and another driver pulled over by the side of the road, at least some of those speeders slow down.

  • http://federicoeinhorn.com/ Fede Einhorn

    Yup, still makes me mad… same speeder speeding for over a year and the cops stop the one than does it once (one report, against reports all over the last year).

  • http://www.koozai.com/author/ali-moghadam/ Ali Moghadam

    If I read correctly elsewhere, this site had $15million of investors money pumped into it.

    Link schemes is the best they can do?! Or at best, they can’t muster better advice on how to gain momentum? With that kind of backing, failure is inexcusable. You don’t deserve to win solely because you CAN.

    But, Google is equally to blame for allowing such a blatant disregard for quality to be ranked – they are more or less proving that they do not practice what they preach. I sincerely hope that things will change in 2014, but Google will do whatever’s best for business, just like the rest of us will! :)

  • http://federicoeinhorn.com/ Fede Einhorn

    “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.”

  • http://wtff.com/ WTFFcom

    Google sent tens of such “anti-spam messages” during last 5 years without any serious impact, as we can see.

    Web is not traffic. Google is not cop.
    Your example is nice, but this is pure speculation related more to creative writing, rather than to web business.

  • http://wtff.com/ WTFFcom

    Google sent tens of such “anti-spam messages” during last 5 years without any serious impact, as we can see.

    Web is not traffic. Google is not cop.
    Your example is nice, but this is pure speculation related more to creative writing, rather than to web business.

  • Durant Imboden

    None of us knows how much impact Google’s “anti-spam messages” have had, but in any case, Google appears to feel that sending such messages is worthwhile.

    FWIW, I can think of only two groups of people who’d object to Google’s making examples of sites that violate Google’s linking guidelines:

    1) People who reflexively object to anything Google does.

    2) SEOs and site owners who are afraid of becoming examples themselves.

  • http://wtff.com/ JustConsumer

    Not sure why are you talking on my behalf.

    I know for sure, that Google’s “anti-spam messages” don’t have any impact. Otherwise Rap Genius case simply wouldn’t exist. Same as thousands similar, but less popular cases. Just to mention : http://www.seroundtable.com/caught-google-handed-links-17890.html

    And I’m talking about your sophisticated statements, not about Google’s actions.

    re: FWIW = ” Forgot where I was ”
    ( http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/FWIW )

    Sorry, I can’t help you.

  • http://www.GenericDomainMarket.com Sameh

    I think they lost more than half their daily visitors.

    I remember looking at their Alexa Rank page the day the news came out or the next day and I noticed they have verified Alexa data (they installed Alexa Tracking script on their website) and the Daily Unique Visitors were around 1,100,000 Visitors. Today it shows 414,000 Visitors.

    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/rapgenius.com

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