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You would have to be living under a rock not to know the oil spill in the gulf is close to entering its third month of existence. I cannot say much more about the spill and BP’s role in it that has not already been stated on CNN, Fox News, and even Comedy Central hundreds of times by now.
But I would like to address the aspect of web marketing that has been pushed into the mainstream for this. BP is buying ads for the search term “oil spill” (among others) from Google.
Reuters discusses this in more detail. Essentially, what it boils down to is another aspect of BP’s public relations’ campaign to try to recover from this disaster that they have inflicted upon the gulf coast and even the world.
This, in and of itself, has draw ire. Jacqueline Leo of the Huffington Post has taken BP to task for “manipulating and [controlling] the news.” Here, I have to disagree and point out some flaws in the argument of Leo and other writers/bloggers who are showing their SEO/PPC ignorance.
- Most users understand that the shaded region at the top of the screen is a sponsored link – at least in part because the section is labeled as…”SPONSORED LINKS.”
- Because this represents the sponsored section, BP is not fighting it out with legitimate news stories for this space.
- Google limits the sponsored links at the top of the page, so there is no concern that legitimate stories will be pushed out of the user’s view.
- The top organic results are news links and labeled as such. One of the reasons that Google became the dominant search engine was its ability to organize the page into easily recognizable sections. Users do NOT go to Google because they struggle to find what they are seeking.
- Finally, does anybody else really want their company appearing near the top of the page for terms like “oil spill”? For anybody who types in that term and the first word underneath is “BP”, doesn’t that only serve to further link the company with this disaster.
Anyhow, since these are pay-per-click ads, there is an easy way to make BP pay for what it has done. Click on the ad and promptly leave the site.