By Larry Magid

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The website Rap Genius, which provides annotated lyrics for hip-hop songs, has been punished by Google after the tech giant said they violated rules while trying to improve their search rankings.

The site allows users to listen to songs, read lyrics and then click on lines that might be of interest. When clicking on those lines, a pop-up annotation will appear, explaining what the lyrics are about or what may have inspired them.

Anyone who creates an account can write annotations, and eventually, users could become verified like hip hop stars, who are using the website.

Now, the website has come under fire from Google, after the search engine giant said it is using “unnatural links” when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). The company would essentially provide links to blogs, basically promising to give the blogs publicity in exchange for the blogs linking back to the Rap Genius website.

These types of so-called “SEO spam” practices are frowned upon by Google, for violating its rules regarding optimizing search results.

For that reason, Google has basically taken Rap Genius off its search engine, as the company no longer comes up anywhere near the top of the list in search results, either when searching for rap lyrics or Rap Genius itself.

In an open letter posted online, Rap Genius’ founders apologized for “messing up,” but also said there is a common practice of spamming, when it comes to music lyric websites. The company is hoping to be able to make peace with Google.

You can hear Larry Magid Tech Report Monday through Friday at 3:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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