How can Google bring a startup with $15 million in funding to its search engine ranking knees? Quite simply, when the startup practices black-hat SEO techniques to try to game the system and get ahead online. That’s what happened to Rap Genius, a website that provides translations of rap lyrics, when their poor SEO tactics destroyed their rankings on Google.
Google’s Search Engine Algorithm
Google works hard to protect the integrity of the websites displayed to their customers, the people searching for information online. By using a complex algorithm to rank websites in terms of their relevance to the keyword searched, and their overall quality to the person doing the search, Google ensures that the best pages are displayed at the top of the search engine results.
Some of the basic tools used to measure websites in Google’s search engine algorithm include:
- Backlinks – The number of websites linking back to your website.
- Keywords – How well the terms on your website match what the person is searching for.
- Regular Updates – How current the information is on your website, and how regularly it is updated.
Rap Genius’s Crucial SEO Mistake
Rap Genius understood the basic SEO strategies. To try to game the system and get ahead, they decided to ask people to add backlinks to the Rap Genius website. This practice is frowned upon by Google, and is often referred to as black-hat SEO because it games the system—something Google hates.
When Rap Genius got caught in the act of gaming Google, the search engine giant fought back, obliterating their position online. This caused a frenzy among SEO news outlets as search engine experts ridiculed the startup for their weak approach. Now, if you search for Rap Genius, you may arrive on their Facebook page, Wikipedia page, or any other page related to their business, but not their website.
A Lesson for Businesses in White-Hat SEO
There is a critical lesson for businesses from this recent SEO news story. Gaming the system with black-hat SEO techniques rarely works as a long-term strategy. White-hat SEO techniques are a far more powerful strategy for ranking high in search engine results. A few ways the team at Foster Web Marketing enables clients to use white-hat SEO techniques is through:
- Writing valuable content that gives website visitors useful information
- Regularly posting updated articles, blog posts, FAQs, and news stories
- Researching keywords and naturally incorporating them throughout the website’s content
Don’t let your website get destroyed by Google in the same way as Rap Genius’s website. With white-hat SEO techniques, you can be confident in your search engine ranking, without using sleazy tricks to game Google’s system.