When googling for baiyun airport, a website calling itself "Guangzhou Airport Online" was the first hit, whereas the English-language version of the official website was ranked fifth, after two pages from the unofficial website, the Wikipedia article, plus an airport hotel for that airport.

I can't recall such a scam happening when searching for Japan-related info, or for Taiwan.

Is this a common scam for China-related info?

  • 1
    I've edited the title of your question. Not sure if it's really a "scam", as most of those sites aren't trying to make money in any way except selling ads. That's also a problem in Europe where many airports' websites are so awful, third-party sites become more convenient.
    – JonathanReez
    Jul 10 '16 at 14:18
  • 6
    I've seen much worse: w3schools presenting itself as a legitimate source of javascript documentation. And, it's world-wide. Jul 10 '16 at 18:47
  • Before reading the specific case the question body refers to, I felt tempted to answer that in times when Wikipedia is unreachable in China, the described issue might in general be a bit less common there. Jul 10 '16 at 19:21

I would not go as far and call this a scam, it is a stylized fact of the Google search algorithm. The official Guangzhou airport homepage is horribly slow to load (it took 10 minutes for me to load right now) and no better to navigate as I can tell from past experience. The first hit you mention instead does provide little information and apparently mostly links to the airport hotel, but it is still much better in terms of site performance and thus has made it higher up the Google ranking. There is no use in linking the official homepage first if it does not load for 10 minutes, no matter the officialness or information content.

You should in general try to verify anything that seems dubious on the internet and not blindly trust the first Google hit. This issue might appear more prominent for Chinese internet sites as they are not optimized for Google since Google is blocked in mainland China, they are mostly not in English, and the Google ranking algorithm is not as well-trained by clicks from users and their return rate, etc.
I have encountered similar behaviour in many countries where internet is not so much of a dominant medium yet, including significant differences between European countries.


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