BP buys up oil spill search terms

BP has been on a little shopping spree, buying up Google search terms like ‘oil spill’ and ‘Gulf spill’ to attract users to its official website.

Here, they’ll see all sorts of soothing information on how the caring energy giant is giving each oil-drenched bird its own Jo Malone bubble bath, and each Louisianan a new house.

The company has bought up dozens of search terms on Google, Yahoo and Bing, so that its www.BP.com/OilSpillResponse site appears at the top of the list of results, or as the top sponsored link.

BP says the move is a philanthropic one, in no way designed to steer users away from websites that might be a touch more critical of the company and its policies.

“The reason we’ve been doing this is to make the information on the leak more accessible, so it’s easier to find key information such as how to make claims,” said a spokesman.

Just a touch confusingly, perhaps, anyone that really does want a site that’s critical of BP is probably best advised to try @bpglobalPR.

It’s not quite what it seems – as the site’s bio points out, “We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 50 days.”

Here, you can find more comment about BP’s search term binge: “We’re paying Google a lot of money to make sure you only have access to the best possible info on the oil spill: our info,” for example, and “Proud to announce we’ve partnered with Google to turn the Information Superhighway into a Corporate Bus Route”.

BP says it’s relaxed about it all.

“We’re keeping an eye on them,” says the spokesman. “As long as they don’t get in the way of people wanting to make claims, people wanting to volunteer or report oil on the beach, and stop us getting the information to the people that they need.”

bpglobalPR has 143,481 followers, compared with just 12,453 for the official BP Twitter feed.