RapGenius.com has been removed from Google's main search page after the site was exposed for manipulating its own page views. According to writer John Marbach's article, "RapGenius Growth Hack Exposed," the New York City-based start-up — which recently landed a licensing deal with Sony ATV following copyright infringement claims — reportedly used affiliate bloggers to cheat its way to expansion.
Marbach unearthed the scam after the company posted on its Facebook page earlier in the week, "Do you have a blog? Do you wanna be a RAP GENIUS BLOG AFFILIATE? Help us help you!" He emailed about a potential partnership and was told by co-founder Mahbod Moghadam that the collaboration requires interested blogs to add RG links (particularly those involving Justin Bieber's highly anticipated Journals release) in their posts in exchange for Twitter publicity. The move essentially sends fraudulent web traffic right back to Rap Genius while offering interested blog partners exposure for stories Moghadam assured would "bloooowwwww up!" after they were tweeted to the site's more than 150,000 followers.
The tactic led to Google's Web spam team leader Matt Cutts bumping Rap Genius down from its main position when users search song lyrics to well below competitors like AZLyrics.com and MetroLyrics.com. A direct link to RG's homepage has also been dropped down to the second search page as punishment for the scheme.
Rap Genius responded to Google's disciplinary action with a post on its site titled "Open Letter to Google About Rap Genius SEO," admitting that it "effed up," but not without snitching on other sites for similar deeds. "Other lyrics sties are almost definitely doing worse stuff, and we'll stop," the statement reads adding, "We'd love for Google to take a closer look at the whole lyrics search landscape and see whether it can make changes that would improve lyrics' search results."
So far Google hasn't responded to Rap Genius's public confession, or its suggestion that other sites be targeted.
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