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29 Apr 2010

An April Fools joke 27 days later

April Fools!

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.
 
Google SEOHowever, 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: 25 x 25 twitter icon“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.

 

19 Comments

  • jillwhalen Apr 29, 2010

    Ridiculous! That “reporter” should be fired.

  • DanaLookadoo Apr 29, 2010

    Arnie, just as we pondered yesterday, the reporter didn't check her facts before reporting the story. It was interesting that she used the same $25,000 per month minimum as in your April Fool's Day post. I wonder along with Michael Martin who pondered if she'll loose that Newswire Press Pass.

    Thanks for the fun!

  • DoctorFred Apr 29, 2010

    Kudos to Serena Shapero for one of the best linkbait articles in recent memory. Serena, even if you really thought the story was factual, I am sure you can hold your head high when you check the traffic spikes and backlinks :-)

  • verticalmeasures Apr 29, 2010

    So true!! Amazing how quickly her newswire release sparked conversations throughout the industry. It was hilarious watching the chatter since Tuesday.

  • verticalmeasures Apr 29, 2010

    Thanks for the comment Dana. Yup, will be quite interesting to see if Newswire keeps her onsite.

  • DoctorFred Apr 29, 2010

    @jillwhalen — I disagree with your comment that the reporter should be fired. In this day and age, it's all about the backlinks and link baiting. The only bad press is no press. When is the last time any of us in the SEO circles visited or even heard of that site? Would we be visiting it or even know about it if the reporter had churned out a factual, compelling, yet obscure story?
    :-)
    Just my $0.02

  • verticalmeasures Apr 29, 2010

    Agreed, and take a spelling class or two…..to learn how to spell 'working' and 'the' correctly. ;)

  • seobro Apr 29, 2010

    Oh, say it ain't so bro!

  • Arnie Kuenn Apr 29, 2010

    Thanks for the top Alan. Hadn't seen that convo!

  • Ross Joo Apr 29, 2010

    Serena really needs to stick with “divorce” as her primary topic.

  • alanbleiweiss Apr 29, 2010

    Arnie, It's even better. I logged into LinkedIn last night and browsed the questions in Search Marketing. Guess what? YES – Someone asked if this was real news :-) http://bit.ly/dkloJi

  • Arnie Kuenn Apr 29, 2010

    Yep, you were hot on the trail, I was afraid you were going to break the story before we did!

  • Martin Bowling Apr 29, 2010

    It’s amazing how much stuff gets reported that has no basis in fact what so ever. When will people learn. April fools FTW!

  • Andy @ FirstFound Apr 30, 2010

    Oh dear. Do people not even read to see when posts are made?

    Still, that's brilliant linkbait for you. Well done!

  • Nithin May 03, 2010

    Yup, good job on linkbait.

  • Webmaster Forum May 12, 2010

    Great April fools joke, maybe the best from this year in the tech niche online

  • Kaila S. May 12, 2010

    Thanks! We certainly did try to make it a good one…just took 27 days for the online media to catch on to it. ;)

  • Serena Shapero Jun 21, 2010

    I am Serena Shapero and I would like to say that I had nothing to do with writing the article and that the people at Newswire who pinned my name to the article slandered my name. I am a college student and have never written an article for Newswire. I did not give Newswire permission to say that I wrote any articles for them and I was deeply upset when I found out. Thought you all should know.

  • verticalmeasures Jun 22, 2010

    Thank you for input Serena. We will be reaching out to you for more information privately.