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British Petroleum Buys Search Terms Relating to Oil Leak
While British Petroleum is currently battling a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico from one of its exploratory drilling expeditions, it is also engaging in another damage control effort - one to protect its reputation. ABC News reports that BP has attempted to control the flow of negative publicity online by loosening its purse strings, as it has spent heavily to purchase top placements on search engines such as Google and Yahoo! for keyword phrases related to the environmental disaster.
For example, a person doing a search for the phrase "oil spill" on Google will receive thousands of links to news articles about the Gulf Coast crisis, but the first link returned is to BP's corporate page with highlighted text inviting people to "learn more about how BP is helping."
"We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find out more about our efforts in the Gulf and make it easier for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer," BP spokesman Toby Odone told ABC News.
The move could backfire if people feel as though BP is attempting to manipulate the public by spending money on search engine results rather than on the clean-up. However, Kevin Ryan, the CEO of California-based Motivity Marketing, said that most people are unaware of the differences between organic search results and those that are the result of paid advertising.