AZLyrics, MetroLyrics & The End of an SEO Era

Screenshot of the MetroLyrics lyrics detail page for the Disclosure song, Latch

The suits over at AZLyrics and MetroLyrics are undoubtedly having the:

Bluest Christmas Ever

Due to a game-changing update Google just made to its Knowledge Graph algorithm:

Screenshot of Google search engine results page which shows the full lyrics for the Latch song above organic listings for AZlyrics.com and MetroLyrics.com

Yes, my friends, those are the song lyrics to Disclosure’s mega-hit, Latch, appearing on an SERP, above the organic results for AZLyrics.com and MetroLyrics.com.

Good Boys, Good Boys, Whatchu Gonna Do When Google Comes for You?

The new Knowledge Graph Lyrics Card appears when a user searches for the lyrics of select songs, ranging from Katy Perry’s Dark Horse; to the Jackson 5’s ABC; to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You.

Google defines Knowledge Graph as a project providing “results based on a database of real world people, places, things, and the connections between them.”

It started out as a seemingly altruistic endeavor, all in an effort to help Searchers “research a topic faster and more in depth than before.”

For instance, in the Film Card for Iron Man, Google provides links to an assortment of sites, including Google Play.

Screenshot of the knowledge card that appears on the SERP for Iron Man 2008; it shows ratings for the movie, a description, links to watch the movie on Google Play, Vudu and Amazon, and links to pages about the Cast and similar films

But the new Lyrics Card is 100% self-serving, driving traffic to Google Play’s music store solamente:

Screenshot of Latch lyrics on a Google Play web page, which features CTA buttons for Buy and Listen

The Business of Lyrics

Song lyric sites are BIG business.

Back into 2009, The New York Times reported that MetroLyrics generated close to $10 million in advertising revenue.

And in 2012, the start-up lyrics site, Rap Genius, raised $15 million in venture capital.

Not surprisingly, Google, and its Google Play music arm, wants a controlling piece of the lyrics pie. And it is unapologetic as it embarks on cannibalizing the competition via the very platform by which they receive the bulk of their traffic.

Shiver Me e-Timbers!

Last year, when Google blacklisted the lyrics site RapGenius for its Black Hat SEO tactics, the site’s traffic took one hellavu nosedive:

Screenshot of a chart showing traffic dipping from 700K a day to less than 200k

Even though AZLyrics and MetroLyrics have not been blacklisted, just imagine how much of an impact Google’s Lyrics Card will have on their traffic and revenue.

A Most Temporary Stopgap

Right now, one saving grace for AZLyrics, MetroLyrics, et.al., is that the Lyrics Card only appears on certain songs (albeit more popular ones) when a user includes the word “lyric” in the search phrase.

If a user searches for “Disclosure Latch,” a YouTube-centric Knowledge Graph card appears instead, with “Full Lyrics…” as a smaller, almost unnoticeable link at the bottom of the card:

Screenshot of the SERP for the search phrase "Disclosure Latch" which features a still of the YouTube music video, metadata about hte name of the artsit, the album and the album's release date, as well as the first four lines of the lyrics with a hyperlink to view Full Lyrics on Google Play

Yet there’s no telling how long this stopgap will last.

Because with a few extra lines of code and flip of a switch, Google could easily update its algorithm so that song lyrics appear in a more obtrusive way on the Knowledge Graph card for non-lyric yet song-related SERP pages.

It will be interesting to see how this SEO massacre (Google v. All Other Lyrics Sites) will play out in the coming months.

And it will also be interesting to see which industry Google will end up cannibalizing next via its SERP.

Whichever it is, it won’t be purty.

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