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Recognizing publishers’ standout content in Google News

Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:31 AM

Posted by David Smydra, Product Specialist and Justin Kosslyn, Product Manager

Every day, news organizations and journalists around the world dedicate significant time and resources toward some of the most critical types of coverage: exceptional original reporting, deep investigative work, scoops and exclusives, and various special projects that quite clearly stand out. Today, during a Google News workshop at the Online News Association conference in Boston, we introduced a new content tag for the US edition that will help us better feature this “standout” content and give even more credit where credit is due.

If you put the tag in the HTML header of one of your articles, Google News may show the article with a ‘Featured’ label on the Google News homepage and News Search results. The syntax for this new tag is as follows:

<link rel="standout" href=“http://www.example.com/scoop_article_2.html” />

You can use the tag to point to your own content or to point to other sources with standout stories. Because the Standout tag belongs in the HTML header of your articles, it will only be seen by automated systems like Google News, not by direct readers of your articles themselves. 

Standout Content tags work best when news publishers recognize not just their own quality content, but also the original journalistic contributions of others when your stories draw from the standout efforts of other publications. Linking out to other sites is well recognized as a best practice on the web, and we believe that citing others’ standout content is important for earning trust as you also promote your own standout work. 

At this point, we ask news organizations to use the Standout tag to cite their own content at most seven times in each calendar week. If a site exceeds that limit, it may find that its tags are less recognized, or ignored altogether. A news organization may cite standout stories from other news sources any number of times each week.

To be clear, Standout tags are just one signal among the many signals that algorithmically determine prominence on Google News. We recognize the importance of giving credit where credit is due, and believe this tag can be a step in the right direction -- but it will only succeed if the publisher community helps it succeed. We have experimented in the past with other metatags, and have applied feedback from those efforts to this initiative. As we monitor how the Standout tag is applied, we'll look forward to sharing further observations or updates.

To learn more about how the Standout tag works and how you can implement it on your site, visit our Help Center article.