The recent clamp down on popular music site, Rap Genius, reinforces the importance of respecting Google’s rules in the SEO world. The penalty imposed on this site emphasises the need to avoid blurring the lines between generating more traffic to your site in a legitimate way and link building greed. As a Search Marketing Company, we want to remind you of the importance of good SEO practices and the consequences of failing to implement them.
So where did they go wrong? The action taken by Google took place after the discovery of an “affiliate program” Rap Genius had implemented in order to generate links pointing to their website. What they did was promised a retweet with a link directing to any blogger that linked the Rap Genius site using specific keyword-rich anchor text to the lyrics of very specific songs by very specific artists. After the penalty, Rap Genius could no longer be found on Google and this is a fate all websites will suffer if they use the tactics demonstrated by this site.
So why was this a no-go in the SEO world? The fundamental reason was the very clear manipulation of link building demonstrated by Rap Genius. The motivation to improve the site’s search rank via the artificial development of keyword-rich inbound links was barely concealed. Any respectably search marketing company will advise that this process undermines the authority of Google. Had the site used a simple “click here” link in the blog to direct to their site instead of using the anchor text, the outcome might have been very different. This change would transform an illegitimate link building scheme into a useful and successful way of promoting content.
Another error made by Rap Genius to note, was the carelessness they exercised in retweeting a site based only on the fact they featured links to their site. What this did was lose sight of their target audience as the webmasters were so driven by generating traffic in this illegitimate way. As a result, they were retweeting sites which weren’t high quality and weren’t relevant to their audience. This is a clear example of how Rap Genius was motivated merely by manipulating the google rankings as opposed to delivering quality and relevant content to their audience. It’s a harsh lesson but one that all sites need to bear witness to – Google will, and does, discipline sites that are “bad quality” and reward those which prove to be “good quality” by respecting their audience and having them in mind at all times.