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For many publishers, Google News is an important source of traffic. This is particularly true for publishers involved in the business of distributing news.

As a result, it's no surprise that a Google SEO strategy for some publishers focuses heavily on Google News.

For those publishers, a new tag introduced by Google to help publishers surface their best content will be of interest.

This weekend, Google invited publishers to indicate which of their content is the crème de la crème of their work using a new 'standout' tag.

The tag, which is structured like <link rel="standout" href=“https://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/social-media-integration” />, is to be placed between the <head> tags of pages.

To promote healthy and not abuse usage, Google is asking publishers to use the tag to cite their own content no more than seven times in any given week.

According to the post on the Google News Blog announcing the tag, "If a site exceeds that limit, it may find that its tags are less recognized, or ignored altogether."

Google, however, is hoping that the tag becomes more than just a tool for self-promotion. The search giant's David Mydra and Justin Kosslyn explained that the tag is not just a tool for self-promotion:

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.

According to Mydra and Kosslyn, there is no limit to the number of 'standout' citations a publisher can provide to external sites.

Needless to say, Google's new tag is one the latest efforts by Google to have the public and publishers help the company identify the best content on the web.

These efforts are driven by a simple fact: no matter how hard Google's works to tweak the algorithms that are supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff, meaningful incremental improvements are often easiest obtained with the assistance of real people.

From this perspective, Google News' 'standout' tag could have a positive impact on the quality of Google News, however it does raise two key questions:

  • How much preferential treatment will Google treat 'standout' tags from certain publishers? It's unthinkable that a 'standout' tag on nytimes.com, for instance, would be treated the same as a 'standout' tag on a small but reputable blog, but if this assumption is correct, there will obviously be questions about whether the tag really helps standout content or the standout content of large publishers.
  • Will the 'standout' tag promote a new form of SEO circle jerking on Google News in which publishing conglomerates link to their own properties, or the properties of favored partners?
Patricio Robles

Published 26 September, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2429 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Brian Maher

I think this new tool is good but wide open to abuse - and in effect turning back the clock on quality news

about 5 years ago

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Braden Kelley

How can I use this with a wordpress blog that is picked up in Google News on individual posts?

Because it is in the HEAD, how can I do this in a way that doesn't impact all posts?

Braden
(@innovate)

about 5 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

It will certainly be interesting to see if this actually has much of an effect.

In my humble opinion, the long term trend will be that the news items that are shared / re-published the most will be the ones that are most prominent on Google news (therby fueling a virtuous circle for the news items that perform well).

Surely the trusty old 'social signals' are a better barometer for the quality of the content than a publisher declaring that they are creating standout news?

An interesting step though and it is fair to say that most sites have the occasional news item that is 'standout' and the facility to shout about it should be a welcome one.

about 5 years ago

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Matthew Read

I completely agree with Joe, social signals and online popularity are much better indicators of standout news then the publisher (who is biased) simply claiming it is standout.

Also, I wonder how this will coincide with Editor's Picks which is making a comeback on Google news. Will the 2 go alongside each other or will editors be limited to picking standout news?

about 5 years ago

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Steven Mikellides

Very interesting addition to Google news, however, my issue is very much in line with what has been said already. With the ability to tag seven times, surely that leaves scope for people tagging articles that are in no way 'standout'. Social signals are a far more reliable, trustworthy source of 'standout' news.

about 5 years ago

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