Pizza Hut Hong Kong’s Little Mess

Pizza Hut Hong Kong’s web site appears normal: it is indexed by search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN), its pages appear on search results and its contents are informative to both English and Traditional Chinese readers. Is there something wrong? Maybe there is.

Pizza Hut Hong Kong’s Little Mess

On SEO perspective there is. According to Google Webmaster Help Center under Quality guidelines – Specific guidelines:

Don’t employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.

Generally, when entering www.pizzahut.com.hk it points to its Traditional Chinese page. Doing a slow motion of how the transition from .com.hk to com.hk/tc/home.html, it actually passes through two pages, so there are actually two redirects performed.

Firstly, we look at the www.pizzahut.com.hk source code.

<html>
<head>
<title>Pizza Hut Hong Kong, 必勝客香港</title>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″>
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;URL=default.html”>

Notice there is a redirect code at the last line pointing to default.html. In no time the page is redirected to that page:

<html>
<head>
<META http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html;
charset=utf-8″>
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;URL=/tc/home.html”>

This is where another redirection takes place to the TC page.

We ask why is this done? Probably to show search engines it has a couple of pages that are rich in keywords. Both source codes show plenty of keywords in its body and meta keywords section.

Then why is it still indexed and searchable? Google does not explicitly mention in that guidelines page that violation of any of the enumerated items carry penalty. But there is that spam report that allows everyone to report any suspected spam activity:

We work hard to return the most relevant results for every search we conduct. To that end, we encourage site managers to make their content straightforward and easily understood by users and search engines alike. Unfortunately, not all websites have users’ best interests at heart. Trying to deceive (spam) our web crawler by means of hidden text, deceptive cloaking or doorway pages compromises the quality of our results and degrades the search experience for everyone.

We think that’s a bad thing, and so we request that, if your Google search returns a result that you suspect is spam, you please let us know by using this form. We thoroughly investigate every report of deceptive practices and take appropriate action when we uncover genuine abuse. In especially egregious cases, we will remove spammers from our index immediately, so they don’t show up in search results at all. At a minimum we’ll use the data from each spam report to improve our site ranking and filtering algorithms, which, over time, should increase the quality of our results.

I don’t believe Pizza Hut will ever get penalized. Its keywords are related, its content are related to pizza with menu and shop locations. Maybe the only fault in there was the inability of its webmasters to recognize that such multiple redirects does not matter when it comes to search.