When Growth Hacking Goes Bad

by Gilbert Keith

TechCrunch

Andreessen Horowitz-backed music lyrics and annotations Rap Genius was the latest to stray over to the darker side of so-called “growth hacking,” with its spammy SEO tactics disguised as an affiliate program. Called out, exposed and now punished by Google, the site’s traffic has tanked. But Rap Genius, thanks in part to that $15 million investment, will probably recover. They’ll clean up their links, make amends, and maybe even get back into Google’s good graces. End users will once again land on Rap Genius’s pages, many of them none the wiser for the time the site spent in the penalty box.

Other startups may not be as lucky.

It’s one thing to tempt fate by breaking Google’s rules, it’s quite another to risk alienating a service’s potential end users themselves. And yet, this is…

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