Rap Genius Removed from Google's Search Results Following Alleged Terms of Service Violation

Rap Genius Removed from Google's Search Results Following Alleged Terms of Service Violation
If you've ever searched for the lyrics to your favourite rap song, there'a a good chance that you ended up at the website Rap Genius. That lyrics resource — which also includes line-by-line song interpretations — has now taken a massive hit after allegedly violating Google's search engine optimization (SEO) practices, leading the website to be pulled from search results.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, Rap Genius had been offering bloggers exposure through social media in exchange for links to its website. This plan was apparently designed to improve Rap Genius's SEO, since Google partly bases its search rankings on how many different pages link to a particular website. Google responded to this practice by axing Rap Genius from its search results.

Rap Genius still appears several pages into Google search results, but in any case, the website is far less prominent than it previously was.

In response to the situation, the founders of Rap Genius have published an open letter to Google. They write, "We effed up, other lyrics sites are almost definitely doing worse stuff, and we'll stop. 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 lyric search results."

The letter goes on to explain that the website never bought or sold links and doesn't use automated programs to create links, but it admits to violating this rule in Google's Terms of Service: "Additionally, creating links that weren't editorially placed or vouched for by the site's owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines."

Business Insider reports that Rap Genius's traffic has tanked since being removed from Google's search results. Within less than a week, it's apparently fallen from 1,376,535 unique daily visitors to 234,590, according to Quantcast.

This isn't the first time that Rap Genius has run into trouble. Earlier this year, the website struck a licensing deal with with Sony/ATV Music Publishing following a take-down notice from the National Music Publishers' Association.