Four government departments spent almost £6m ensuring their websites appeared on search engine results pages in the last two financial years, according to newly released figures.
The Department of Health was the biggest spender, running up a bill of £4.4m in “paid search” fees.
It said the money was spent supporting campaigns on smoking and the flu pandemic.
Organisations can pay search engines to ensure their websites appear at the top of users’ searches. They are often charged for each person who accesses their sites via the link.
The Department for Communities and Local Government spent over £750,000 promoting campaign websites including those for Home Information Packs, Eco Towns and Energy Performance Certificates.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change spent more than £309,000 last year. The Department of the environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) spent almost £500,000.