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Fighting The Oil Spill On Google: BP Versus The Lawyers

As oil-poisoned pelicans are found on Gulf shorelines, lawyers and British Petroleum are looking to Google for help gaining public awareness. Attorneys are primed and ready to line up plaintiffs who were harmed by the oil spill that killed 11 people and threatens the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. BP is reaching out, as well.

Ambulance Chasing, Google-Style

Lawyers are using Google, Bing and Yahoo to actively bid on oil spill-related terms such as bp oil spill claim, oil spill sue and bp lawsuit:


Oil Spill: The New Mesothelioma

It feels similar to the competition on search engines that’s long gone on among legal firms to find people who may have high-damage claims, such as suffering from mesothelioma. In fact, consider this:


That’s the landing page at oil-spill.com, where legal firm Beasley Allen hopes to catch some potential clients. Beasley Allen also runs mesothelioma.law.pro, where you’ll find this:

Look familiar?

Google is just one of many advertising channels being utilized to reach out. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal spotlighted the chase for those who might have claims:

Hoping to reel in more clients, attorneys have snapped up domain names such as bigoilspills.com and put up billboards along highways saying “Oil spill hurt your business?” and advertising their services.

BP Battles On PR Front

It is not just litigation lawyers that are using online marketing to gather steam. BP is engaging in damage control by bidding on related terms through Google AdWords. In fact, they are casting a pretty broad net. Currently, they are bidding on everything and anything related to the spill. This broad match strategy is probably costing them thousands, if not millions of dollars in AdWords spend.


British Petroleum is using this money to compete for top placement amongst news stories and lawyer ads. Apparently the company is anxious for the public to “Learn More about How BP is Helping” by sending the paid search ads to a dedicated landing pages like here and here.

BP recently acknowledged the AdWords campaign. BP spokesman Robert Wine told The Fiscal Times.

The main aim is a marketing tool, to help the people who are most directly affected — fishermen, local businesses, volunteers in the cleanup. We want people to be able to find us, so we can work out how to minimize the impact on their lives and businesses.

Despite the statement above, it is hard to imagine BP has a hard time being found. While I’m a fan of paid search marketing and know how extremely effective it can be for marketing, I can think of better ways to spend massive amounts of money in the gulf. How about cleaning those oil-poisoned pelicans?

Postscript: Since this was written, Search Engine Watch has done a nice post trying to estimate how much BP might be spending on its campaign — around $1 million per month, it figures.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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