“Not Deliberate” Says Google, On Google Finance Showing Apple Stock Chart For “Sell”

Do a search on Google Finance for the word “sell,” and Google returns the stock chart for Apple. Why? Some thought Google had rigged this as an “Easter Egg” or joke. However, Google says this isn’t so.

In the first edition of this story, I could see no good reason why this was happening, something spotted by PFhub and which has since been noted by The Next Web and also a discussion on Reddit.

I’d seen a few comments that this was due to the Reuters-description that Google Finance shows for Apple having the word “sell” in it several times. Google tells us that is indeed the case, sending Search Engine Land this explanation:

This isn’t deliberate — our algorithms seem to be keying off of the words “sell” and “sells” in the description of this very popular stock symbol. We’re working on how to adjust things so it doesn’t happen anymore.

You can see an example of the root word “sell” appearing in the Apple description below:

As I wrote in the first edition of this story, this explanation seemed odd. For example, Amazon’s page on Google Finance also has the root word “sell” in its description, including the exact word, unlike Apple:

But Google also said this:

The popularity of the ticker is indeed part of this, and why Apple in particular is coming up even though the word may appear in other stock tickers’ descriptions.

Sure, someone at Google could have made Apple appear for “sell” as a joke. Google has a long history of Easter Egg jokes. But as I wrote in the first edition of the story, having it also work for “sells” would make no sense, in terms of stock jargon.

By the way, “buy” brings up Best Buy, even though the company’s symbol is BBY. So does “buys.” So Google Finance is clearly using more than the exact stock symbol or exact name to decide when to show the stock quote for a particular company.

Postscript (8:22pm ET): Story updated and revised based on Google’s statement.

Postscript (10:39pm ET): Google no longer shows Apple for a search on “sell,” showing this instead:

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Easter Eggs | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Amator Androidicus

    Seems to me like people are stretching just a bit too far here, to try to catch Google in something naughty. BTW, how do you find a “finance” section of Bing? I thought I’d type the word in there, but there doesn’t seem to be a section similar to Google’s Finance section.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    MSN Money is as close as you get.

  • http://www.eBizROI.com Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Given the rivalry between Google and Apple, my vote is on Easter Egg Joke. Maybe an sign for APP investors?;-)

  • http://twitter.com/recentrates PFhub

    Danny there may be more to this. I updated the article on PFhub noting that the article was completely removed from Google news shortly after yourself and other websites picked it up.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    That’s extremely odd. I’d seen it come up several times when I was doing related searches. I can’t find it in Google News now when searching by title. Nor do I see it listed alongside the Apple chart on Google Finance, where I was noticing it the most. I do see it in regular Google web search.

    I don’t think it was killed by Google to suppress the story. Right now, my story as well as CNET and The Next Web are still showing up. I do wonder if someone somehow did something it to keep it off the Apple stock page where it was appearing and that, in turn, has nixed it from Google News.

    There might be other issues, but yes, this isn’t right at all, that it disappeared like that.

  • C.G

    Under the belt… And it has gone viral already. Good one! Was this the initial intention?

  • C.G

    If it’s “Not Deliberate” as Google says, are they also planning to pull the plug on the news it’s generating in Google News? That would be the ethical thing to do, since it was started at Google Finance, right?

  • http://twitter.com/recentrates PFhub

    Very disappointing to see this happen. I’m really hoping to hear back from Jason again regarding the disappearance of the article from Google News.

    I asked some peers that have been in Google News for years if they have ever experienced this and the unanimous answer was no. The consensus was that the article was manually removed.

    By the way thanks for the reference link in your article it’s hard for the little guy to get noticed these days. If I hear back from Jason I will post an update.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    You’re welcome. I would have said “first spotted,” but I wasn’t certain. It can be difficult to tell. But I wanted to make sure you were credited. It’s very, very strange that the story dropped. I can find it another way in Google News like this: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1645&bih=1177&tbm=nws&q=%22I+just+came+across+something+kind+of+funny+that+has+to+do+with+AAPL%22

    I thought maybe there was some duplicate content issue. I’ve seen that happen with Google News before, where if it thinks one source is simply citing another one, it might drop that source. But i don’t see anything significant out there citing that much of your story that might have somehow caused that type of confusion.

  • C.G

    Dear Mr Sullivan: It still appears at the top of the list at the Apple Inc. abridged news. Top of the list at Apple Inc. Google News page. It has not been removed at all…

  • http://www.facebook.com/mystarme Michael Johnson

    This is definitely news worthy, to sell’ the least. :/

  • Mat Collins

    Reaching for another article…

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