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James Perrin

Hold the Front Page: Google News Launches “Standout” Tag

26th Sep 2011 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

For any publisher of content, making sure your copy is seen is absolutely paramount to its success. Whether you’re a journalist, a copywriter, working in online PR or marketing, making sure your story is seen on the first page of search engines, in particular Google News is the main goal.

In that case, the latest noises coming out of Google will be of particular interest. According to the official Google blog they’ve introduced a new content tag for the US edition which will help exceptional work ‘standout’.

For anyone that has spent a significant amount of time researching and writing original work, whether it’s an exclusive news story or a special investigation and write up, the ‘standout’ tag will help your content do exactly that. The tag will be located between the <head> tags of a page and the syntax will look like <link rel=”standout” href=”URL”>.

Before you start thinking of applying this to all of your pieces, you must know that Google will only allow you to use the tag seven times in a week. Excessive use will result in the tags being less recognised or potentially even ignored. Using the tag will result in your work appearing in Google News with a ‘Featured’ label next to the article.

Whilst this presents another tool for promotion of content, Google are hoping that it doesn’t turn into something that people just use for self promotion. David Mydra and Justin Kosslyn mentioned in their post that, “standout Content tags work best when news publishers recognise 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.” In this case, whilst you can only use the tag seven times in a week to point to your own domain, you can actually point to other domains as many times as you like.

Knowledge is power at the moment and any latest tip or help you can get in achieving optimisation should be taken with both hands. However as Mydra and Kosslyn explain, it’s important that this doesn’t get abused, but is rather embraced fairly by the publishing world. They finish by saying that for the tag to be a success, it needs the help of the publishing community.

This is the latest in a number of efforts by Google to develop Google News, including their editors picks feature which we announced a few months back [See: Is Google News’ Editors’ Picks Bad For Search?]. There is a big difference between the two, where Editor’s picks has to be from an approved publication or news organisation and the “Standout” tag can be use any author.

As usual with any update from Google, more question than answers begin to surface. For example, Patricio Robles writing for Econsultancy asks whether this new feature will favour large publishers over authors with a more modest blog. Will the ‘standout’ tag have the same effect for all types of publishers? Finally will it be in large publishers’ interest to only link to their favoured partners?

I guess from the blog post, it’s clear that this feature will only work if it’s used responsibly and to justifiably give credit where credit is due. As for its success in the future, I’ve no doubt we will learn more when it starts to get used – which you currently can do for the US edition of Google News only.

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