If you know anything at all about the SEO world, you probably heard about the Rap Genius incident a few days before Christmas. If not, let me give you the quick rundown.
Basically, Rap Genius was caught building unnatural back links to their popular lyrics site. Apparently, they were asking their FaceBook fans to link to them and in return they would tweet the fan’s page. The tweet from Rap Genius’s twitter account would supposedly “bloooowwww up” sending tons of traffic to the fan’s site.
Doing this is not only unnatural, but it’s also an incredibly old SEO tactic that Google frowns on.
Luckily, a fan of Rap Genius exposed the whole thing in a post that was later picked up by Hacker News. That post caught the attention of Matt Cutts, the head of web spam at Google.
The next thing we knew, Rap Genius had been de-indexed from the Google search results and they were making headlines everywhere. Obviously, search traffic is important for a lyrics site, so losing Google traffic practically crippled them.
What happened next is where I think they really messed up.
Once the Genius’s became aware they had been removed from Google's search results, they released a statement saying they were working with Google to clean up their links profile and they expected to be back in the search results soon.
They apologized for their actions, but unfortunately they didn't stop there.
They went on to post 'An open letter to Google', where they essentially ‘snitch’ on all of their competitors. They even created a chart that shows all their competitors, ranking them from most spammy to least spammy.
The post and the chart was supposed to show Google why Rap Genius had to take such actions to increase the amount of links to their site. They also called on Google to clean up the entire lyrics search landscape.
This was not only a bad decision; it’s one that is not well accepted by the SEO community.
Snitching on your competition in the SEO world is pretty much equal to snitching out rival gang members on the street. Only this battle will be fought in the search results and instead of bullets there will be links.
Rap Genius has already shown they are not good at SEO, so you can bet that at least one of their competitors is looking to bury them in negative SEO.
At this point Rap Genius has not managed to get their traffic stats back to where they were before. They are however, back in the Google index.
None of their competitors seem to have lost any traffic and it does not appear that Google is penalizing them. Perhaps Google decided that little rap tattle tales shouldn't get the benefit of seeing their competition penalized.(which makes me love Google even more)
Maybe their competition is just better at SEO and instead of using tactics from 2006 they’re actually working on building proper SEO.
Or maybe, just maybe Rap Genius had no ground for such a statement, and they are just whining like little rich college boys who got their girlfriends stolen from them by real thugs.
Anyway, you know how the old saying goes; Snitches get link spammed and negative SEO.
Have fun with that…”Geniuses” pfft.