Google News Blog - The Official Blog from the team at Google news

Credit where credit is due

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 9:00 AM



News publishers and readers both benefit when journalists get proper credit for their work. That can be difficult, with news spreading so quickly and many websites syndicating articles to others. That’s why we’re experimenting with two new metatags for Google News: syndication-source and original-source. Each of these metatags addresses a different scenario, but for both the aim is to allow publishers to take credit for their work and give credit to other journalists. Here’s how to use these metatags:

  • syndication-source indicates the preferred URL for a syndicated article. If two versions of an article are exactly the same, or only very slightly modified, we're asking publishers to use syndication-source to point us to the one they would like Google News to use. For example, if Publisher X syndicates stories to Publisher Y, both should put the following metatag on those articles:
    <meta name="syndication-source" content="http://www.publisherX.com/wire_story_1.html">

  • original-source indicates the URL of the first article to report on a story. We encourage publishers to use this metatag to give credit to the source that broke the story. We recognize that this can sometimes be tough to determine. But the intent of this tag is to reward hard work and journalistic enterprise. For example, to credit the publication that broke a story you could use a metatag like this:
    <meta name="original-source" content="http://www.example.com/burglary_at_watergate.html">

In both cases, it's perfectly valid for a metatag to point to the current page URL. It's also fine for there to be multiple original-source metatags on one page, to indicate a variety of original reporting leading up to the current article. If you’re not sure of the exact URL to provide in either case, just use the domain of the site that should be credited.

Although these metatags are already in use by our systems, you may not notice their impact right away. We'll need some time to observe their use "in the wild" before we can make the best use of them. But we're hopeful that this approach will help determine original authorship, and we encourage you to take advantage of them now.

To learn more about how these metatags work, and how you can implement them for your site, visit our Help Center article.

Update 2/11/11:


We've had a lot of interest in these meta tags, particularly in how the syndication-source tag relates to rel=canonical. After evaluating this feedback, we’ve updated our system to use rel=canonical instead of syndication-source, if both are specified.

If you know the full URL, rel=canonical is preferred, and you need not specify syndication-source.

If you know a partial URL, or just the domain name, continue using syndication-source.

We've also had people ask "why metatag instead of linktag"? We actually support both forms for the tag, and you can use either. However, we believe the linktag form is more in line with the spirit of the standard, and encourage new users to implement the linktag form rather than the metatag form we originally proposed.