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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some Lyrics Websites Experienced Ranking Drops

Y. on August 8 this year sent in information about a big Google ranking drop of his song lyrics website, which people usually find using a query like “song title” lyrics (e.g. irreplaceable lyrics):

[I] am part of a (lyrics) site network, and my site had over 200k visitors a day, but 3 days ago google somehow gave a penalty to our site, and another lyrics site in our network. Also other sites I know webmasters of seem to have gotten a huge penalty, dropping traffic to [practically] zero (thus killing our business completely – the sites have been [popular] for over 3 years now).

Y. later added, “if it’s about copyright infringement of the lyrics, we have a working DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act], but never got notable complaints (>5 lyrics), and are almost ready to launch a partnership with almost all the biggest lyrics copyright holders. But with no visitors are investment is going to waste, and our future partnership on landed on a rocky road.” Y. figures it “could be about duplicate content”. However, Y. says “no links were bought” (as buying text links trying to improve one’s search rankings is penalized by Google these days).

I asked another lyrics website owner if they had seen a drop in Google web search. Their reply:

We have definitely been hit by some kind of Google penalty back in August. It looks like it might be link related as it always happens (at least to my knowledge so far) to sites sharing the same C block [the block of IP addresses] and link exchanging between each other – something I though Google would simply ignore as it is just too obvious and our intend was in no way to alter the search rankings. We have 3 main lyrics sites and what happened is that 2 were penalized (at the same time, so it has to be some kind of [algorithm] as it`s all automated) and only one preserved it’s rankings - the one with the highest PR. It has to be a penalty because if you search for [domain-name-of-lyrics-site].com you get results, but if you search for just [name of site] nothing shows up on the first page. We still get some traffic from Google, the thing is that all results have been pushed down 5 or 6 pages, so some call this a -50 or -60 penalty.

Now, the fact that some of the sites hit in August are lyrics sites may or may not be the core of the issue – it could well be these sites simply have some attributes in common, like duplicate content, as Y. mentioned. After all, banning just lyrics sites would be a very specific change for a search company aiming to scale their algorithms. I didn’t get any comment on this from Google, and Y. says Google didn’t yet reply to their site inclusion request.


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