Rap Genius (rapgenius.com) is a predominantly song-lyrics hosting website that allows users to search and annotate songs. During its initial inception, Rap was the rudiments of the site, but it gradually spiraled into a myriad of genres. The market for lyrics-search is astronomical, and has the potential for a viable business.
The Rap Genius CEO search-ranking pundit concocted a scheme, by manipulating the search optimization using indirect techniques. The success of their site depends on position in the Search Engine Results Pages. (SERPs) The website lured bloggers on facebook, twitter and other social-networks, using advertisements to join their affiliated program. The founders propositioned bloggers to add tag-links to “Rap Genius’s Justin Bieber pages” below their posts.
The founders then offered to reciprocate the favor by using their social-networks to promote and popularize bloggers, an unscrupulous bargain that would surge their Google SEO traffic. Promoting and advertising bloggers on their social-media, in exchange for search ranking position is a shenanigan that garnered hundreds of users.
A Web entrepreneur called John Marbach contacted the lyricist website for details. When he realized it’s a ploy to boost search ranking, he posted snapshots of the email dialogue and blogged about it on public forums. The myriad of upvotes surged it to popularity on Hackers News, where Google’s Webspam team head “Matt Cutts” stumbled across it.
When Google discovered they were being artificially duped, they completely obliterated Rap Genius, banishing the website from the search index, causing their monthly visitors to plummet immensely. How Google factors in its search result is an esoterically guarded secret, but the number of links redirecting to a specific website plays a major role, the more links predicate the higher the search results will appear.
Google wants the The Search Engine Ranking Position or Result Page (SERP) to be infused organically, but editorially vouched or placed links for a website owner, on a page or blog is a violation of their terms of agreement. Google’s algorithm is susceptible to exploits, a fallibility they cannot circumvent, it’s a paramount issue they will contend with perpetually.
The founders have written an apology to Google for their rogue practices, claiming to be unaware of the search engine rules.
“Growth Hacking” was a term first coined by business marketer Sean Ellis, it is the process of low cost innovative marketing strategies and search optimization techniques, that technological startup companies use to capitalize on product sales and gain exposure.
Ironically, with Rap Genius $15 million in funding from [venture capital firm] Andreessen Horowitz, employing a third party marketing and strategic firm, specialized in the promotional aspect of the business would have feasibly been a far more lucrative option in the longevity. Especially with over 40 million unique visitors a month.
Takedown notices were issued by the National Music Publishers to over 50 websites for unlicensed lyric sites, and Rap Genius was amongst the top offenders.
Excluding blogger-accomplices from the equation seems incommensurable, regardless of how the instigation was duped, all participants should be liable to stringent penalties. But then again; although the gaming of the system was done indirectly, the CEO took the linking into his own hands.
Google is a company with a relatively large market cap of $373 billion, and trades for over $1,000 per share on the (NASDAQ) Conversely to Apple, which is half the price but almost double the market value, a former and latter contrast. However, Google’s powerful predicament is a force to be reckoned with; a multinational corporation and a virtual megalomaniac, an inexorable dichotomy that balances itself like a true equilibrium.
The wrath of Google has struck the dubious search-ranking pundit, “Rap Genius,” sweeping and catapulting the website off their virtual feet. Cascading them into an impromptu oblivion. You cannot rain terror on a platform your success is contingent on, regardless of the bureaucratic discrepancy. Here’s a peculiar idiom (Don’t cut the branch you’re standing on, dummy!)