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DWP spent £1m on search engine 'biasing' in single year

Civil servants throw cash at Google and friends

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The Department for Work and Pensions has spent more than £1.1m on search engine biasing over the last four years.

In a parliamentary written answer, work and pensions minister Chris Grayling revealed that the highest recorded costs were for 2009-10, when his department spent £956,000 on search engine biasing.

The figure for the previous year was £176,000. In 2007-08 and 2006-07 only £2,500 and £5,100 was spent respectively.

Grayling said the figures represented the total cost of DWP search engine biasing work. This includes spend on 'pay per click' and 'paid for' search terms.

Search engine optimisation is carried out by the department's own in-house communication teams.

Individual figures for Google and other search engine providers were not available, and extracting them would result in a "disproportionate" cost, Grayling said.

"The current cross-government policy of freezing all paid for marketing and advertising has suspended spend on this type of paid for search term until further notice," he added.

He also disclosed that the DWP is working with the Cabinet Office to implement a standardised method for quantifying website costs across the department's agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

The action comes in response a Public Accounts Committee recommendation. The costs will be available from April 2011 onwards.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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