The UK government spent around £6 million to get a number of its websites onto top slots on search engines over the past two years.
A total of four departments, including the Department of Health, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, spent the excessive amounts on search engine optimisation while the government was cutting funding to other areas.
The Department of Health, long criticised for failing to deliver adequate health cover to UK citizens, spent the largest amount, a shocking £4.4 million on getting its websites into Google and Bing. Most of this was spent on anti-smoking campaigns, as well as trying to get people to visit the swine flu pandemic websites which caused so much panic last year.
The Department for Communities and Local Government was second on the list, spending more than £700,000 on search engine placements to promote campaigns for eco towns and energy performance certification.
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Energy and Climate Change came in third and fourth place respectively, spending nearly £500,000 and £309,000 worth of chopped down trees as part of its efforts to tackle global warming.
Meanwhile, in late June it was announced that the UK government would close three quarters of its websites in efforts to save millions, and it has probably saved millions more if those websites were paying Google to bump them to the top of the list.
If that were not enough, earlier this month the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, revealed that he had discovered that the Department of Energy and Climate Change was competing against the Carbon Trust for placements on Google.
Let’s hope the coalition government is a bit more web savvy than the last Labour government and doesn’t waste money on nebulous “search engine optimisation”. Particularly so as Google appears to have turned into an Orwellian monster as recently as, er, today.