Google’s Gags Go Worldwide For April Fool’s Day 2012

It was right about this time last year when we gave Google the winner’s trophy for a series of gags that put all others to shame.

We could do the same again right now, because Google has tried to top itself with another round of April Fool’s Day jokes that pretty well span the globe of Google’s international properties. Below is a recap of Google’s (and a few others) pranks, and we’ll do our best to update this as the day goes along.

Google Racing: Self-Driving Cars Hit NASCAR

The main joke at the moment is Google’s “announcement” of a partnership with NASCAR called Google Racing, which brings Google’s self-driving cars to NASCAR race tracks “by the middle of next season.”

google-racing

There’s also a faux news video about Google Racing (with no embed code – the cruelest joke of all!) starring Jeff Gordon and a couple other NASCAR drivers, not to mention Sergey Brin pretending to be Google’s first NASCAR driver … or whatever you call the person who doesn’t actually drive the car.

And if you go to Google.com, the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button has been renamed “I’m Steering Lucky” and there’s a link to the Google Racing microsite.

google-racing-home

Google Maps In 8-Bit For NES

Google’s pranks began early this morning with a blog post announcing that Google Japan has created an 8-bit version of Google Maps for the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

You can relive all your favorite 1980s graphics by clicking the “Quest” button in the upper right corner on maps.google.com.

Google Street Roo

In Australia, where Google Street View cars and trikes can’t get to remote areas of the continent, Google says it’ll use kangaroos with mini-cameras mounted on their noggins to photograph the Australian outback. They’re calling it Google Street Roo. Hopefully the 1,000-plus kangaroos won’t mistakenly collect any personal data via wifi while they’re hopping across Australia.

google-street-roo

Google China: Underwater Search

I said it was worldwide, right? Well, even Google China has gotten in the act with an underwater search gag. It’s more like a Google doodle than a prank, though.

google-underwater-search

Google’s Really Advanced Search

Speaking of search, this one will probably go over well with our audience. Google’s really advanced search page has some pretty funny options, like this:

google-really-advanced-search

You can also narrow your results based on what font the page uses, what textured background the page has and which “embarrassing grammatical faux pas” is found on the page. If you’re into SEO, you’ll like this one. You may even find yourself wishing that the page actually worked.

Google Search: Weather Control

Another search gag: Google Weather Control. Type in any weather-related search (like “seattle weather”) and you can make the weather anything you want it to be. You can turn Seattle into Phoenix, if you’d like.

google-weather-control

Google AdWords: Click-to-Teleport

The AdWords team has a new extension called Click-to-Teleport that lets “potential customers to instantly teleport to your business location directly from a search ad.”

google-teleport-sample

The YouTube Collection

YouTube’s annual April Fool’s Day prank is the YouTube Collection — all of YouTube on DVD. Once you order, 175 trucks will deliver the DVDs right to your door. Oh, just watch the video. Make your checks payable to “Matt McGee” if you’re planning to order.

Play Music In Google Analytics

I’m not seeing this (yet?) in my Google Analytics account, but this Aussie blog says there’s a little music icon on the Visitors Overview page in Google Analytics. You can play a piano or sitar while enjoying (or bemoaning) your website’s performance.

google-analytics-music

Google Chrome Multitask Mode

The Google Chrome team thinks one mouse/hand isn’t enough for web browsing, so they’ve launched Multitask Mode — two mice/hands at once.

Gmail Tap

Gmail Tap converts your keyboard from 26 letters to just two — dots and dashes, just like Morse code.

Google Fiber Bar

Forget that fiber optic network thing. Google Fiber is actually just a fiber-filled candy bar that helps you be up to 100 times more productive than ever before.

That’s Not All…

There are other search-related April Fool’s Day gags, perhaps my favorite of which is Google Nigeria, which jokingly asks you to input your bank account number so you can “search for inheritance.”

google-nigeria

Don’t be alarmed: the search box just runs a normal Google search (not that you’d actually put your bank account number in there, anyway, right?) and, while this is NOT an official Google gag, it also doesn’t appear to be run by some Nigerian prince. (It’s a production from 85by55.com.)

There’s also TheGoogleButton.com, which lets you make a fake Google search result page with whatever website (and title/snippet) you want in the No. 1 spot.

Flickr has announced that all photos can now be seen in the 1980s style “Atkinson dither,” accessible via a small button in the lower right part of any photo page.

flickr-matt

And last, and probably not least, the folks at Reddit announced “reddit timeline,” which brings a touch of Facebook to the proceedings and is pretty funny — especially when you click on “1970s” and get the animated rainbow header, along with “news” about Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the war in Vietnam.

And now that April Fool’s Day has actually begun … time to sign-off, at least until the next prank comes along.

Postscript:

As expected, we have a few more pranks to add and they all come from Google. Here you go!

GoRo: Google Mobile

Google Mobile has introduced a program called GoRo — the name is a play on the actual “Go Mo” campaign — that encouraged business owners to learn how to optimize their websites for rotary phones. Why? Because “technology is cyclical.”

Google Analytics: Interplanetary Reporting

Google Analytics jokingly wrote about a sneak preview of “interplanetary reports” that let website owners “understand visitor activities from neighboring stars and planets.”

google-Interplanetary-Reports

Interplanetary reports will be rolled out in 2030, Google says, “when we anticipate local space travel becomes widespread.” Heh. Watch them be right about that part.

Google AdWords: Planetary Targeting

The AdWords folks didn’t stop just with Click-to-Teleport (see above). Oh no, there’s more. If you login to your AdWords account and edit location settings on one of your campaigns, you’ll see a joke about being able to do planetary targeting.

adwords-planet-targeting

And yes, if you follow through and type “Mars,” for examplem, it shows up as one of the targeting options. There’s even a fake support page explaining how it all “works.”

At least I think it’s fake. Who can tell anymore?

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: AdWords | Google: Analytics | Google: Chrome | Google: General | Google: Gmail | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Mobile | Google: Other | Google: Parodies | Google: Street View | Search & Society: April Fool's | Top News | Yahoo: Flickr

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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