Google News Introduces Standout Content

    September 25, 2011

Leveraging Google News for traffic and pageviews is a strategy that’s been around as the popularity of Google News began to increase. For instance, an article from SEOMoz discussed the approach, and it was written in 2006. Now, thanks to a simple HTML tag adjustment, you can point Google towards the content you think will standout on Google’s news reel.

Much like the “nofollow” tag, the “standout” tag belongs to the HTML rel category, and much like it suggests, it’s intended for the most pop-worthy content, although, there’s nothing to stop people from putting the rel=”standout” tag on all of their content. One would guess Google is prepared for standout tag spam, and the inclusion of the tag doesn’t guarantee first page status on Google News. According to the Google News blog, the tag exists as a suggestion:

If you put the tag in the HTML header of one of your articles, Google News may show [emphasis added] the article with a ‘Featured’ label on the Google News homepage and News Search results.

The blog entry also suggests using the standout tag — which looks like this: — while linking to content being referenced as well as on your own:

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.

While that stanza contains a “we believe” in reference to trust-earning, it’s clear Google is relying on this trust when it comes to picking which content is actually standout worthy. If you run a content spam site, one that survived the Panda purge, and you’re making liberal use of the standout tag, it’s doubtful it will make much of a difference in how the content is perceived, especially as Google refines the weight it gives links containing the tag in question.

In what looks like an effort to proactively address standout tag spam, Google suggests news organization only use the tag once per day:

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.

In other words, don’t spam with the standout tag, otherwise, we’ll ignore you; but please, use it when you’re linking to quality content.

Pretty simple, right?

With that in mind, how long will it be before we see the first “Standout Tag Spam on Google News” article? Before the end of the coming week? Once again, for those who may have missed it, the syntax for the standout tag is as follows:

link rel=”standout” href=””

Thoughts on the standout tag? Let us know in the comments.