BP Damage Control: SEO

Global energy company BP is taking a beating in the press, but if you Google the company, you will find the first several search results are positive. They include BP’s official site, an “About BP” page, and basic stock information from Yahoo Finance.  Only further down on the first page will you start to see news stories about the horrific oil spill that threatens the southern coastline of the United States. As oil has spewed into the Gulf of Mexico for some fifty-one days, BP is embarking on a major cleanup. It’s not for the ocean, though. It’s for their reputation.

Online reputation managementcan be tremendously useful for both companies and individuals. Computer company Dell for instance, went through its own “Dell Hell” with attacks on its quality and customer service several years ago. After taking charge and using effective SEO techniques – and improving their computers, of course – they managed to override the negative press. Today, you would have to go out of your way to find reference to Dell Hell. BP is hoping to have similar success, even as they’ve been referred to as “accidental terrorists.”

BP is spending a massive amount on pay per click campaigns and keywords for Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Their hope is to guide searchers to their positive sites instead of the myriad of negative news sites, forums, and social networking pages. They are supposedly bidding on “oil spills, “Gulf oil spill,” and other related keywords. It is reported that the company is spending more than $10,000 a day to keep their sites on top. This comes at a time when there are serious doubts as to BP’s ability to pay for the massive cleanup that will be necessary once they manage to stop the leak.

Matt Simmons, an oil industry executive said, “there isn’t enough money in the world to clean up the Gulf of Mexico. Once BP realizes the extent of this, my guess is that they’ll panic and go into Chapter 11.” BP has already spent a billion US dollars on the spill, which is not even fully contained yet. It is estimated that it could cost in excess of $40 billion to deal with the disaster. That’s a lot of keywords.

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