Mail on Sunday accuses BBC of paying for Google rankings

Mail on Sunday accuses BBC of paying for Google rankings

This weekend a bitter war erupted online in the SEO world with the Mail on Sunday claiming that the BBC was paying for its Google rankings. The Mail on Sunday stated:

The BBC paid Google so that people looking up details of the Mercury Prize, for instance, would be directed to a BBC website.

This sounds very sinister, but of course the newspaper has got the wrong end of the stick entirely and clearly doesn’t understand Adwords. You cannot pay for natural Google listings, no matter who you are and how much money you have. The tone of the article suggested that this is what had happened. Instead, the BBC has cleverly used some of its online marketing budget for Google’s Adwords, a sponsored listings product, to promote time sensitive events.

The Mail on Sunday quoted the BBC as saying:

Promoting content like the Mercury Prize online is an effective way to inform the licence fee payers who will want to watch it or read about it. The BBC has an annual budget for marketing and value for money is at the heart of how decisions are made about spending it.

This sort of reporting is either irresponsible in that it’s intentionally trying to make believe the BBC is ‘paying’ for Google listings, or it’s badly researched. Anyone in the Internet Marketing industry would know that the BBC is simply using Adwords, just as millions of other Google customers do to promote their products and services.

The news was reported responsibly however by PC Pro, who stated:

The Corporation is using part of its £100m annual marketing budget to pay for sponsored links…

Just to reiterate, in case anyone isn’t clear on the matter, the BBC has not paid Google to increase its search rankings. The BBC has been using Adwords, which demonstrates some Internet Marketing acumen on the part of the BBC, something they should be applauded for.

As for those who don’t know the difference between PPC and SEO, you’d best read up on the subject!

  • You really must ask yourself what a bunch of Luddites the Mail on Sunday must be. Surely they understand digital marketing, SEO, PPC as they are a major publisher.

    Although they are not technically wrong in what they say the inference is that somehow the BBC have “artificially” paid to be on top.

    However, why the BBC need to pay for more more traffic to their site (using public money) is beyond me.

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