29 Apr 2010
An April Fools joke 27 days later
We have triple checked with our inside sources in the industry and can thus confirm with 100 percent certainty that our April 1 story on Google opening its own SEO agency is just what the link at the bottom of the piece purports it to be: an April Fools joke.
However, we have also learned what happens when an overzealous reporter happens upon a piece of “news” that just happens to be published on the first of April and spins it as fact in this day and age of the Internet.
This story was “broken” by Serena Shapero of Newswire.net in an April 26 report that explains how Google will be opening up an SEO agency as early as May:
Now, Google is assembling a Google SEO team of approximately 100 employees. The company professes that their intentions are noble. Google wants to set the standard for an industry that outsiders so often criticize. Google SEO promises to use only the most ethical practices to increase a client’s PageRank™, and they promise to do it without adding to the spam glut that currently exists on the Internet. However, the fact remains that Google SEO will be the only SEO agency in the world that can guarantee first page rankings because they are the only company that will have access to the algorithm that dictates it.
If you compare that paragraph to our original joke story, it looks like a nice paraphrase job to me:
Google is putting together an SEO team of approximately 100 employees because it feels like it needs to set the standard in an industry that often gets criticized from the outside. Google SEO will strive to only use the most ethical best practices to increase rankings without adding to the spam glut on the Internet. This implies that Google SEO will become the only search agency in the world that can guarantee first-page rankings because they have total access to the infamous algorithm.
Spreading like wildfire
From there, this bogus news has spread like wildfire across the Internet. The Newswire story has 42 comments and 164 tweets as seen via Tweetmeme as of this writing. One tweet even asks Matt Cutts if there’s any truth to this rumor (which Cutts refutes) and another savvy tweeter wonders if it’s a late April Fools joke. No, @SarahCarling, there was nothing late about our original report!
The story has now made its way to Warrior Forum, the V7 Network, Digital Point, Black Hat World, UK Business Forums, Absolute Shopping Cart and even Google Webmaster Central, which answered the rumor with humor.
Many people on these forums point out that if such a piece of news were true, it would be all over the Internet instead of just in one unsourced report on Newswire. Many others got all worked up about it, which was certainly entertaining to us, and another compared it to something you would see in The Onion, which I took as a major compliment. We also found it funny how wide-ranging the debate was on the $25,000/month figure we randomly decided upon for this fallacious service.
Since I do possess a journalism degree, I’m qualified to say the No. 1 thing I learned in J School is this: “If your mother says she loves you check it out.” Basically, don’t believe anything that a source says – and don’t believe any old story on the Internet that just happens to be published on April 1 with a link to AprilFools.com at the bottom – without first verifying it yourself.
A 27-day gestation period
We found out about this whole ruse when we got a trackback to our original April Fool’s post from a story on Simply Clicks, which figured this whole thing out in a story with this witty headline: “Google SEO April Fool – 27 days Gestation.”
Yes, it’s amazing that four weeks later our little joke became a hot topic on forums around the net, but besides re-enforcing not to believe everything you read on the Internet this situation proves how far-reaching it can be when one person doesn’t understand the context of a story they happen to come across on the web before re-packaging it for a wider audience.
So relax, Google SEO is NOT coming to an Internet near you, just be careful the next time you believe an April Fools joke 27 days later.
About Michael Schwartz
Michael Schwartz is an Internet marketing strategist at Vertical Measures as well as an accomplished reporter, blogger and editor. He covers the link building beat.+Michael Schwartz