Annotated lyrics website Rap Genius has been restored to its customary high ranking on Google’s search engine, after a punishment for spammy marketing that saw it lose up to 80% of its daily traffic over Christmas. The startup, backed by $16.8m of investment, built an audience of millions by crowdsourcing annotations for hip-hop tracks – not just publishing the lyrics, but also notes on their references and themes supplied by its community. It has also expanded into rock, poetry and news annotations. Rap Genius was investigated by Google just before Christmas for its approach to search engine optimisation (SEO) after a blog post by entrepreneur John Marbach about an email he’d received from the company encouraging him to link to specific Justin Bieber lyrics on its site. Such “growth hacking” was intended to boost Rap Genius’ ranking in search results, but it’s a tactic frowned upon by Google. The internet giant’s response was speedy and severe, with Rap Genius demoted heavily in its search results, even for searches for its own name. This graph from internet traffic-tracking service Quantcast shows the impact: In an open letter published in late December, Rap Genius’ founders admitted they had “messed up” with their… Read full this story
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