In October 2013, Rap Genius was one of fifty sites targeted with notices by the National Music Publishers Association for the unlicensed online publication of song lyrics. Two months later, Google penalized Rap Genius by removing them from its top search results page.
Even for the search query “rap genius”, the company’s domain does not appear in the top results. Rap Genius posted an apology, promising to stop and reverse the shady practice. About ten days later, after removing links in violation of Google’s Quality Guidelines, Rap Genius partially recovered from the penalty.
If you want to avoid similar penalty situations, it is extremely important to abide by quality and trustworthy SEO strategies. In order to gain that trust element, here are some things you can and should do:
– Put a video of the owner or an employee on the website, to allow visitors to see that real people are behind the website.
– Make sure that all your contact information is easy to find.
– Add a picture of your premise on the About Us page.
– List any member affiliations, associations, achievements, and partnerships.
Keep in mind that even the most credible websites and powerful SEO efforts are not automatically free and clear from Google penalizations. Everything on the web is fair game in their eyes. It is unrealistic to think you can create the perfect SEO strategy, but there are definitely some things that should be avoided to stay below Google’s punishment radar. The following are examples of what not to do.
1. Buying cheap links. If too many links point back to your domain, it will flag Google’s attention. If the placement of those links is on low quality sites, penalization is likely.
2. Hiding links. Search engine crawlers are better equipped and more advanced than they used to be. If you try to be sneaky and hide links for SEO purposes, those links will be found and will ultimately lead to a penalty.
3. Duplicating content. If you duplicate content on the web, it is not grounds for immediate punishment. However, it certainly won’t boost your rankings at all. No good can come from working with duplicate content.
4. Covering pages. Every page on your website must be easy to find and navigate. Internal pages and links should be connected in a logical and honest manner.
5. Using automated tools. Too much usage of unauthorized automatic query tools will use Google’s API, which is against the set guidelines.