Recently Rap Genius, a popular lyric website focused on hip-hop music, became the talk of the internet as they basically disappeared from Google’s search results. They were hit with a penalty for link schemes, and the event may have been one of the most talked about SEO stories in recent history.
Now, 10 days after they were essentially removed from the search results, Rap Genius is ranking when searching for it on Google by name. It should be noted, the site was never completely removed from Google, but their content was showing up six and seven pages back in the results, which is pretty much just as bad.
We know the site lost a huge amount of traffic when they were penalized, but it is unclear how they are faring now that they are back. Most likely, Rap Genius will still struggle to regain their former foothold, at least temporarily. When searching by name, the actual website for Rap Genius is still listed below several news stories about their SEO troubles.
The site is also not ranking as well for many lyric searches they previously would have been listed for. Some lyric searches show Rap Genius, but Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land shows they are still stuck on page seven for several searches.
Rap Genius is definitely the most publicly discussed SEO penalty so far. It has been reported on by Rolling Stone, NBC News, Huffington Post, and several other major news outlets. It is also the perfect case study for why you should never attempt to game the search engines for better rankings.
Rap Genius has been consistently transparent about the issues that occurred and what they have done to fix them, as well as what they can do in the future. You can read their initial apology here, as well as their more detailed blog post here. The blog post also concludes with an apology:
To Google and our fans: we’re sorry for being such morons. We regret our foray into irrelevant unnatural linking. We’re focused on building the best site in the world for understanding lyrics, poetry, and prose and watching it naturally rise to the top of the search results.
Rap Genius is seeing a relatively quick return to the search results, thanks to their dutiful efforts to fix the problems and their transparency. However, it will still be a long time before they reach their former status. It just shows that illegal SEO may get you results in the short-term, but you will eventually get caught.