For at least the past 15 years, just about every single year that I have been posting on this blog, I make an April Fool’s post. Usually it’s on and around the 1st of April, and in the past it’s actually been, well, a few days before. However, this year, 2020, is very different. So, officially, I have cancelled April Fool’s 2020, at least my April Fool’s joke. I can’t tell you what it was going to be, as I actually don’t know. I’ve been too busy and pre-occupied with other details that I haven’t even thought about it. But, going along with tradition, I feel as if I need to make an April 1st post.
So, this April Fool’s 2020, even though it’s cancelled, I want to look back at my previous April Fool’s posts and remind you (and me) of some of the better April Fool’s jokes I’ve done in the past. Here’s a list. It’s not an exhaustive one–but a few of the better ones.
The Matt Cutts Fiasco
My all-time favorite (yet controversial) post was about the time when Matt Cutts joined Globe Runner as an SEO Director. This was a few years back, and it involves an April Fool’s joke that, well, was posted too early. You see, April Fool’s was on a Tuesday that year–and we were preparing the annual post. It was Friday night, and I made a mistake. I hit “publish” in WordPress rather than “Save Draft”. And since it was published, well, we went with it. No one actually reads blog posts on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, do they? That was my second mistake. There’s social media, and especially Twitter. News, even fake news like I created, travels fast. And boy did it ever. It took the site down (the traffic did). It was posted and shared like crazy over the weekend. It hit the home page of Hacker News (for a bit) until someone realized it was fake news and an April Fool’s joke. By Sunday, Google employees (and Google Founders) apparently knew about it. So, Matt Cutts let the cat out of the bag, and responded. News sites had already started writing about it. It was big tech news that weekend. On April 1st we followed up with another blog post on the same blog. With a very badly photoshopped photo of Matt Cutts, standing alongside the agency employees.
Do I have regrets about that whole thing? Sure. But we handled it, I learned from it, and overnight. Literally overnight, the Search industry and even the tech industry had heard of an small SEO agency in Dallas called GlobeRunner. This was a time before “fake news” was even a term that we all recognize. I still think about that April Fool’s joke, and even though it was a mistake–it did have a lot of people believing it.
I’m now calling that whole Matt Cutts April Fool’s a fiasco. Would it have had the effect that it did if it were posted on April 1st? Probably not. It wasn’t intentional that I posted it on the Friday night before. And I’ve learned so many lessons from it. There definitely can be bad timing for a lot of things and good timing as well. Let’s just say that was bad timing and leave it at that.
Want to look back at this past Matt Cutts April Fool’s joke? Here’s a few links:
Since two different people have emailed me about http://t.co/BssM7r2oqL
Someone is doing an early April Fool's prank.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 29, 2015
And then Matt Cutts appears on the Jeff Jarvis show:
I Changed my Name
Another April Fool’s I did was changing my name to the name of my website, BillHartzer.com. So, for a few days I (supposedly) had changed my name from “Bill Hartzer” to “BillHartzer.com”.
Google to Make Not Provided Available on .Google Domain Names
The “not provided” keywords have been a big deal for SEOs for a long time now. Back in 2014, it was a bigger deal, as they had just recently added the not provided, and took away keywords that SEOs have always had data on. We used to see all the keywords that people used to find our sites. Then, “not provided” took that away. Only less than 1 percent (or so) are actually provided now. So, I ran an article on my blog that talked about “not provided”, and how Google was going to make those keywords available on .Google TLD domain names. Here’s the post:
Google Adds an April Fool’s Tag in the Results
So, in 2015, the search results were getting a lot of new “tags”, and still changing like they do today. In fact, Google was so good at identifying content back then that they were able to tell the difference between an April Fool’s joke and one that was not an April Fool’s joke. So, they tagged each post as an April Fool’s joke in the search results. Just to be sure that people didn’t fall for April Fool’s jokes.
That was my April 2015 April Fool’s joke…. that Google was adding the tag in the search results. Here’s the post:
Well, for now, Happy April Fool’s Day everyone. Even though it’s cancelled this year (or at least I’m cancelling it officially on my blog). I’m looking forward to next year, when we all can celebrate April Fool’s Day again, knowing that we’re over this unprecedented time in our lives when we’re all home and self-quarantining.