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By: Mike Banks Valentine
Last week the drug manufacturer Merck pulled their pain relief
medication Vioxx (rofecoxib) from the market due to studies
linking higher incidence of heart attacks and strokes to long
term use of their medication. The highly profitable medicine
was aimed at Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers and others who
weren't able to stomach aspirin, which is arguably more
effective than Vioxx is for most pain relief.

Top search engine rankings for the trademarked word "Vioxx"
were dominated by Merck-owned web site http://www.Vioxx.com
as of September 30, 2004. The site is likely to keep that
ranking now that hundreds of thousands are flocking to the
search engines and typing in "Vioxx" to learn if they or
their loved ones are at risk of heart attack from taking
the medication.

News organizations are all linking to http://www.Vioxx.com
site from online news stories about the health concerns and
financial repurcussions to Merck of the sudden recall. Merck
has run full page ads in top newspapers nationwide addressing
the sudden action and sending those millions of readers to
the http://www.Vioxx.com site and http://www.Merck.com site
to read disclaimers and learn how to get refunds for the
medication they already have in their medicine cabinets. The
inbound links will soar at a point when they probably want
it most so they can present their case to web visitors.

Taking the second position is the FDA page outlining the recall
and linking to more info at the FDA site
http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/vioxx/default.htm
Third place for the single word "Vioxx" also belongs to an FDA
page and fourth and fifth positions are owned by a site that
appears to be a drug index at
http://www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic/rofecox_ad.htm

Sixth place is currently held by
http://www.medicinenet.com/rofecoxib/article.htm at a medical
site that dominates for many drug and medical terms due to
extensive discussion boards and informational pages about
thousands of medical conditions and their treatments. Seventh
through tenth position are CNN's news story on the recall,
then Yahoo News with a similar story, two online pharmacies
with curiously blank pages. Try to sell Tylenol from those
pages guys - don't waste the traffic with blank pages!

Pay-per-click advertisements were posted by agressive class
action attorneys to run alongside organic search rankings and
appeared immediately on the day of the recall announcement.
The first search for the word Vioxx done at Google on Friday
October 1st brought up an advertisement for
http://www.Vioxx-heart-attack.com as the first result in the
Adwords listings along the right side of the page. The bids
were below a dollar a click on Friday, but are rapidly
escalating as ever more law firms jump into the bidding war.

The real test comes now for organic search engine optimization
firms as they set out to gain top rankings for their class
action attorney clients. Interestingly, I've just finished
reading the John Grisham novel, "King of Torts", about a young
"mass torts" attorney that made over an hundred million
dollars by being the first to run nationwide television ads
seeking clients injured by a faulty drug manufactured by a
giant pharmaceutical company. Although the protaganist in the
story has a web site to collect leads, nothing is mentioned
of PPC advertising nor is it likely to be discussed in novels.

In "King of Torts" nothing is ever mentioned about organic
search engine ranking of his web site either. Settlement seems
to have come faster than would be possible to gain top rankings
for a highly competitive search phrase. It will be extremely
interesting to watch domain name sales related to Vioxx, since
keywords in domain names always help rankings. Some that are
showing up in PPC ads include the previously mentioned
Vioxx-heart-attack.com, Vioxx-side-effects.com, Vioxx-Claim.com
VioxxRecallLawyer.com and Vioxx-Lawsuits.com.

As of October 4th, 2004 the only NON-news related site in the
top organic results at Google that are NOT online pharmacies,
government agency sites, NIH (National Institutes of Health)
or an information site http://arthritis.about.com/od/vioxx/
is a site that emphasizes giant class action lawsuits at
http://www.bigclassaction.com/class_action/vioxx.html which
has a PageRank of 5 as of October 4th at 5pm Pacific time.

The final ranked site of top 30 for the single word "Vioxx"
at Google is the legal information site Findlaw in their class
action section at http://injury.findlaw.com/vioxx/ which asks
your zip code on first visit and must use IP delivery for
robots visiting the first time since there is nothing on that
page about Vioxx if you've never visited the page before.

Now we will see what techniques are used by Search Engine
Optimization firms that hurriedly post sites full of links
to gain search position for the word Vioxx in order to sell
more links to those agressive law firms and attorneys (and
they'll run expensive click-through Google Adsense ads).

Without doubt, the most SEO savvy attorneys will compete at
a fever pitch for top rankings over the next few weeks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Banks Valentine does search engine optimization for
http://www.VioxxLegalHelpCenter.org
Keep informed as new sites dominate the phrases related to
Vioxx, heart attack, stroke, Vioxx recall, class action suit,
Vioxx personal injury claim, Vioxx legal help, About Vioxx at
http://www.RealitySEO.com

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