Website Traffic Series Part 5: Pulling an April Fools Prank

By Daniel Scocco

On the last part of this series we talked about a shady technique to increase your traffic: faking a blog sale. Overall I don’t think it is an effective one, and even if it was, I would still encourage people to stay way from those shady tactics. Your credibility is worth more than the visitors you might end up receiving.

That being said, there is one day of the year where you could actually pull a fake blog sale. In fact you could pull out pretty much anything you wish, and the wilder the better. You guessed: April 1st.

website traffic appril fools

The concept: On the offline world April Fools’ Day is no big deal. I remember I used to pull some small pranks in school and in work, but that was about it. On the Internet, however, it is a wide spread phenomenon. Just consider that Google itself does several pranks every year.

Basically you need to come up with something weird, new, controversial or funny and publish it on April 1st. Obviously it does not need to be real, though the closer you can make it to a realistic situation, the better.

If you play your cards well you might end up receiving a lot of traffic and backlinks from websites that either got fooled by your content, or that got the prank but found it interesting nonetheless.

Does it work?: Yes, although it is losing efficacy in recent years.

Until some years ago when the practice was not so vivid on the Internet, websites that managed to create creative pranks on April 1st would get flooded with traffic.

Nowadays most websites try to come out with a prank, and as a consequence Internet visitors already know what to expect on that day.

Some people are also trying to combat this prank-blindness effect by jumping the gun and releasing their pranks a couple of days earlier (I am not talking about time zone differences). Michael Arrington and Tim Ferris did this last April (last May, actually), and I don’t think it is a cool thing. If we keep at this pace within some years people will be shooting their pranks on January…

How to get started: Just keep the date on your calendar for next year. If you want to maximize the traffic you will receive, however, you better plan something in advance. You need to be creative.

This April, for example, I said that Daily Blog Tips had been acquired for $168000. While it managed to attract some buzz, the “we have been acquired” prank is as old as the Internet, so next year I will definitely try to come up with something more exciting.

If you need ideas for inspiration check out the website April Fools’ Day On The Web.

Over to the readers: Have you tried to generate buzz and traffic with an April Fools’ Day prank? Did it work?

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24 Responses to “Website Traffic Series Part 5: Pulling an April Fools Prank”

  • medyum

    This type of “trick” can only be practiced for blog which has already has strong base in the net..do y’all think this an be used for new blogs? maybe readers will run away after thanks.

    Medyum OÄŸuz

  • Yuxx

    i tried !! but no 🙂

  • Stefan Wurz

    You know John cow uses sitepoint to get traffic,he doesnt sell it the blog.It is has technique to get good traffic

  • faathir

    daniel, okay..maybe i should start thinking something creative…

  • Daniel Scocco

    @xumb, not much you can do about it, except forget fair game and publish your prank earlier. But I don’t think this is a cool idea.

  • xumb

    daniel, yeah didn’t really put much thought in it. my mistake! will come up with a better one next year! but, like you said, people are gonna be expecting it huh? so what can we do about it?

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Faathir, larger blogs and websites do have a higher chance of getting traffic, but if you get creative enough both with the prank and with the promotion behind it, I think even a small blog could end up with a lot of traffic. All it takes is a link from a popular site after all.

    @Xumb, your april fools was the fact that you had reached 999 rss subscribers? I think you need a more creative prank next year 🙂 .

    @Rockstar, yeah, I think some of those times he was trying to sell for real though.

    @Job, well it depends on the sense of humor of your readers. DBT readers took it quite nicely.

    @Brad, yeah you guys will still need to bear me for a long time!

    @Fastgone, its not cheating, its pranking. Check out the dictionary for the differences.

  • Fastgone

    i not really agreed of cheating the reader
    somehow, thats april fool purpose right?
    for fun!

  • Brad Blogging.com – Daily Blog Tips For The Masses

    Everybody has their price, its just a numbers game.

    I’m glad I can still read this blog knowing the same quality blog tips will be coming each day 😀

  • job

    I don’t think that it is nice to do an April fool prank on our readers..

  • Rockstar Sid

    You know John cow uses sitepoint to get traffic,he doesnt sell it the blog.It is has technique to get good traffic

  • xumb

    yea, i did mine, but the traffic was so-so. why do you think?
    http://pasembur.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/high-on-caffeine/

  • faathir

    This type of “trick” can only be practiced for blog which has already has strong base in the net..do y’all think this an be used for new blogs? maybe readers will run away after that.. LOL

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ajith and @Traveler, yeah I could have played the number smarter 🙂 .

    That is close to an offer I actually received, so I thought it would make it realistic.

    I also don’t think Daily Blog Tips is worth $1 million. Perhaps not even half of that so.

  • Traveler

    lol idk this might be a double post was typing something bout y not make the number bigger? lol 1-2million since is onli a prank lol

    there are numerous pranks n sum reli famous ones. but hven reli done one on my site. might reconsider doin one nx year! lol is a travel site.. maybe post a weird pic?! lol we shall see

  • Ajith Edassery

    But why did you settle for such a peanut offer of a hundred and 68K? I guess it’s a 2mln blog.

    Regards,
    Ajith

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Rajaie, still it should produce decent results though.

    Not many people were fooled by my prank, and still I got 80 comments and over 30 backlinks.

  • Rajaie

    Another great idea, although it’s takes a really good imagination and a lot of time and work to come up with one that will fool others.
    The problem is that once people are reminded from another websites that it’s April, then it will be very hard to make yours realistic.

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