The top English and Chinese results for “Check by Post” are municipal government websites with links to download the national anthem.
According to the government, Google was not paid to boost site placement.
After a government agency made changes to enable users to download the music directly from its website, a webpage devoted to the Chinese national anthem replaced one offering details on a Hong Kong protest song as the top result for a Google search on the topic.
Authorities confirmed to The Washington Post on Wednesday that they had optimized pertinent websites to improve their ranks but had not paid Google to alter the position of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau website in the search results.
The government and the corporation have been in regular contact over the search result ranks.
In a search for “Hong Kong national anthem” on Google, the Post discovered on Wednesday morning that the bureau’s homepage offering details on “March of the Volunteers” and links for audio and video downloads came up top.
A Wikipedia entry for the song “Glory to Hong Kong,” which was created during the 2019 anti-government demonstrations and had ranked top for months, appeared as the second result in the search.
On Wednesday afternoon, the bureau’s website was the top result for the same Chinese search.
The national anthem’s instrumental and sung versions are now directly downloadable from the bureau’s homepage, which was recently revamped. Internet users were previously exclusively directed to a single government website that provided the materials.
The website also contains the musical notation, lyrics, and pertinent rules and etiquette for playing and singing the anthem. Records on the website show that the information was most recently updated on Monday.
When questioned on Wednesday about when the updates to include the files were made and if Google had been paid, the bureau merely said that the government had been placing download links on pertinent sites and would keep the information optimized.
The minister Sun Dong’s prior comments, in which he claimed that the government had not paid for ads, were cited by the Innovation, Technology, and Industry Bureau.
The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer at the agency, according to Sun, has been attempting to optimize its websites to raise their placement in search results.
“After more than three months of continuous operation, the position of the relevant webpages on the first page of the search results has been significantly improved, which did not involve paying Google to purchase advertisements,” he said.
The government inserting more well-liked terms in its pages, which helped to enhance website traffic, is what caused the modifications to the search result ranks, according to Professor William Wong Kam-fai, associate dean of the engineering department at Chinese University.
He said that the inclusion of downloaded files can also increase hits, but that the links ought to have been included far earlier to make it simpler for event planners to choose the right music.
The inclusion of a dedicated homepage for the national anthem with download links and an embedded video containing the music, according to lawmaker Duncan Chiu Tat-kun, who represents the technology and innovation industry, has changed the search results.
He proposed that authorities may hire IT firms to develop new tactics for improving search results.
The modifications came after many instances of the national anthem and the protest song being misheard at various international sporting events.
The Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association was implicated in the most recent instance, which made headlines when the incorrect song was played for 10 seconds after the men’s team defeated Iran at the Ice Hockey World Championship’s third division in Bosnia and Herzegovina on February 28.
The ice hockey team may have submitted a physical copy of the national anthem to the event organizers, a step that may have avoided the error, according to the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China.
The organization had until the beginning of May to provide a written justification for its disregard for the relevant rules as well as a strategy for enhancing its corporate governance.
The government backed the federation as well, pledging to consider cutting off funds in the event that the sports organization followed forward with its plan to revoke the association’s membership.
It could be the first organization to suffer consequences for misusing the national anthem.