Audience Development Flub: Rap Genius Lost 80% of its SEO

Digital publishing news for December 31, 2013

Rap Genius is a popular music lyric database site that has grown quite popular in the last year. However, Rap Genius did something incredibly bad for its SEO earlier in the month.

Search Engine Land reported about a link building scheme Rap Genius concocted, even though they didn’t see it as a “scheme” at the time. Rap Genius would trade a tweet to your article if you included a list of links with anchor texts back to Rap Genius. Matt Cutts, head of search spam at Google got wind of all of this and opened an investigation. This resulted with Rap Genius being removed from Google Search results. Search Engine Land did a follow up post and learned the Rap Genius lost 80% of its traffic since being penalized.

Rap Genius did, however, write a good plea back to Google that explained the whole thing:

“The other strategy we employ on a much smaller scale (the subject of recent Hacker News controversy) is to find blogs whose content we think our followers will enjoy and ask them to link pages on Rap Genius that are relevant to their posts. We actually thought we had set this up to be compliant with Google’s linking policy in its Terms of Service, but we messed up and want to explain how.” They explained here.

“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,” wrote the founders of Rap Genius.

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Niche Publishers Are Doing Well

The New York Times has a new report on how niche publishers are doing with their print magazines. Christine Haughney writes, “Some high-end hobby magazines like Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado have not only experienced steady circulation growth, but have also brought in big revenue by staging special events for subscribers. Wine Spectator’s total circulation in the last decade grew 11 percent and Cigar Aficionado’s total circulation grew 1 percent, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. And Marvin Shanken, who owns both publications, said that subscribers to another magazine in his portfolio, Whisky Advocate, sold out its 17th annualWhiskyFest within hours.”

Niche publishers are also doing well online. Haughney adds, “Some hobby magazines have also been successfully transitioning to digital, in part because some of their readers never became accustomed to getting their content free. Industry players said that when big magazine brands and newspapers initially flooded the Internet with free content, niche publications did not follow, primarily for financial reasons.”

Waiting on Time’s Website Redesign

The New York Post has a new report on Time’s website redesign. It was supposed to be finished this fall, but it looks like we may have to wait a bit longer for it. Keith J. Kelly writes, “Time.com Managing Editor Edward Felsenthal hinted it could take a bit longer. “I’d expect it in the next three to six weeks,” he told Media Ink on Thursday.” The redesign is part of the highly anticipated relaunch of the brand.

Pat Ryan, First Female Editor For Time Inc. Dies

Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Pat Ryan died on December 28. Tim Appelo writes, “Starting out as a secretary at Sports Illustrated, she became according to a colleague, the first woman in America to run a huge weekly magazine, only 12 years after Newsweek’s women had to sue their own employer just to get promoted out of the secretarial/researcher pool.” Ryan helped define celebrity journalism. She was 75.

Chinese Tycoon Wants to Buy The New York Times

Reuters is reporting that an eccentric Chinese recycling magnate want to open negotiations to buy The New York Times. Megha Rajagopalan writes, “Chen Guangbiao, a well-known philanthropist, is something of a celebrity in China. During a particularly murky bout of pollution in January, the ebullient and tireless self-promoter handed out free cans of “fresh air”. But Chen says he is perfectly serious in his bid to buy the Times, which he said he had been contemplating for more than two years. He said he expected to discuss the matter on Jan. 5, when he is due to meet a “leading shareholder” in New York.”

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