The lyrics website also recently signed a licensing agreement with Sony/ ATV Music Publishing

Hugely popular lyrics website Rap Genius has been blocked from Google’s top search results following a disagreement over manipulative SEO practices.

The problems arose after it became clear that the lyrics website was offering exposure to bloggers through its social media accounts in exchange for links on their blogs.

“One of the important factors in the algorithm used to determine Google’s search rankings is how many pages link to each website”, reports the LA Times. “So by asking bloggers to link to Rap Genius in exchange for the exposure, the lyrics website was taking the linking into its own hands.”

In response to the ban, Rap Genius – who also recently received a $15 million investment from Andresson Horowitz and signed a licensing agreement with Sony/ ATV Music Publishing, posted an Open Letter to Google clarifying their stance and their possible mistakes. “The [other] strategy we employ on a much smaller scale 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,” it explained. “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.” The post then goes on to explain the website’s methods regarding the contentious issue.

Rap Genius was launched in 2009 and allows users to submit lyrics, annotation and interpretations of songs. In October 2013, it was one of five websites targeted for the unlicensed online publication of song lyrics, however the resultant deal with Sony righted this issue.