I have an 11 years old lyrics website and it has the biggest archive for my region. Before September 4, 2013 it had nearly 16.000 unique visitors per day and was in the first 3 SERP results for main competitive keywords. On Sep 4, 2013 it became 12 for a day, then continued with around 7000 unique visitors/day.

I havent get any manual webspam message on Google Search Console and my website shows in results when I search it with it's name. Not banned completely.

I thought it could be because of "Hummingbird" and I was adding a hidden link (to my site) to lyrics for avoiding copying and for getting backlinks when copied. I thought that could be the reason and removed it after this huge visitor decrease.

It looks like I had an algorithmic penalty, but after 4 years, my web site still not in first 500 results for these main competitive keywords (but my website is listed as 1 on Yandex for same main keywords). My visitor count also hasn't increased. In fact newer sites with much less content/archive get better rankings.

I haven't done any blackhat SEO or anything unethical, except this "hidden link". I have a serious website with Terms & Use, Privacy Policy and all these "corporate" like things. I've coded it carefully and with necessary semantic tags. It's also listed as first site on Yandex as I mentioned before.

I tried many things but couldn't solve this. The last thing I suspect is that I also have video pages integrated with YouTube API (separate page for each lyrics and artist page). My website queries their API and shows the results directly and then opens videos directly from YouTube in a popup (with embed code). Could this be the reason for the penalty?

  • What leads you to believe that your site is suffering from a penalty - did you receive a manual action report in Google Search Console? Perhaps it's just being out competed by other sites, or users feel it's outdated in some way (11 years prior to 2013 is fairly ancient for the web). Is it possible that Google might feel you have little or no original content (i.e., thin or autogenerated content found on other sites...)?
    – dan
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 5:23
  • No i haven’t received manual action report. I think of penalty because my homepage not even listed in first 500 results, it was in first 3 before the “penalty”. My web site is old but not it’s content or technology. Completely mobile-first and compatible etc. I publish lyrics as others so i don’t think it’s thin content. But could be Youtube videos as duplicate maybe Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 9:21
  • If you think it's in response to an algorithm change, then try to coordinate the date this occurred with their algorithm change dates. My guess would be it was devalued due to thin/automatically generated content or duplicate content based on your description above - we don't have much else to go on other than that however.
    – dan
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


Lyrics sites all took a big hit. Google displays its own lyrics in search now. There are thousands of lyrics sites out there.

Also, Google doesn't want to display duplicate content websites so it may show a few lyrics sites as results and then the rest as original articles about the song. It's harder to rank for this these days.

It's also possible that you're just missing something basic. Is your site not mobile responsive with meta viewport tags? Older sites often don't have the new standards that are required to make their site appear nicely on phones.

  • Thank you for your answer but my site is not even listed in 500 results for homepage, it’s weird. It was in first 3 before penalty. Also my site is old but not its technology. Fully responsive and mobile compatible (with viewport tags) Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 9:16
  • If your site is mobile responsive as you say, then it's probably a penalization as you mention. Something seems to have gone wrong. What was the date that the traffic fell? It's possible to lookup Google updates from that date and see if they might have applied to your site.
    – Michael d
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 9:20
  • Sep 4,2013, it could be related to Hummingbird. And maybe because of Youtube links I mentioned on question. Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 9:23
  • It's possible that it was hummingbird. But hummingbird was about conversational understanding and didn't penalize websites that much. Penguin 2.1 was released in October of 2013 which hit many websites hard. Penguin 2.1 allowed Google to read the pages of inbound links pointing to your site. If those pages linking to you were low quality then your website got hit. Is it possible that you had a low quality backlink system going at the time? searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2323727/…
    – Michael d
    Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 9:48
  • My backlinks was natural, I haven't done much effort on it. Also disavowed spammy ones. But I've given a backlink from my other site with same anchor, on every page (65000 pages). Could it be the reason? Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 10:14

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