BP Buys "Oil Spill" Search Terms on Google, Yahoo, and Bing

bp gulf oil spill news page photo

Image: BP
Not Exactly an Unbiased Source of News on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill...
BP seems to have bought many phrases related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). What this means is that people who do an internet search to find information about the spill have a good chance to see BP's official site pop up at the top of their search results.
bp oil spill oiled birds pelicans photo

Photo: Wikipedia, Creative commons.
Trying to Control the Message, Outbidding Others
This isn't so special. Lots of companies buy ads that show up when people search for them, and BP has admitted the practice:

"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.

But in the case of the biggest environmental disaster in US history, is it moral for BP to try to control the message this way? That's the question that our friends at Triple Pundit ask:

because BP is receiving "so much bad press" buying search terms so traffic is directed to their site is "a great PR strategy." He called the move "proactive."

Scott Slatin, an analyst who runs the search engine marketing company Rivington said, "They paid to lock themselves into the first position against the oil spill terms, essentially putting a positive message on top of the news." [...]

How ethical is it for BP to ensure its website is at the top of a search page?

BP's Reality Distortion Field
If we look at BP's oil spill news site (I wasn't sure if I should link to it here, as I don't want to help them rank better in Google, but I figured you should see for yourself), all of the news seem to have a positive spin.

It's all about the number of barrels that were collected, and not those that are still leaking out and polluting the Gulf of Mexico. There's also a lot of items about what BP is paying for (loss of income claims, barrier island, etc), as if they were just philanthropists trying to help out the region, while in fact they are destroying the place and causing lasting damage.

Via ABC, Triple Pundit
See also: Looking for Gulf Oil Spill News? Be Careful What You Google
For more on BP Oil Spill: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The What, When and Where [UPDATED]
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