Google took a significant step this weekend to adding more signal to the noisy world of online publishing. Called “Standout,” the system allows news publishers to tag up to 7 of their stories a week as their best work.
As a carrot, Google says it will use the tags to help determine stories that land in a “Featured” spot on its popular Google News homepage.
The simple tag <link rel=”standout” href=“http://www.example.com/scoop_article_2.html” /> goes into the header of your story, where bots can read it.
The system is also intended for the increasingly common situation where news sites follow-up-on, syndicate or aggregate outstanding stories from other news sites. In that case, the writer citing earlier work can give an unseen-to-the-reader shout-out to the original source, which news aggregators can use as a signal to figure out which publication had the scoop.
In the latter case, it’s not clear what incentive publications will have to pass on that juice — other than their own interest in a news ecosystem where original work is rewarded. That’s something that’s increasingly at-risk when aggregation blogs get more traffic for a 4-paragraph re-writing of an original story than the originating publication did.
Perhaps Google and other news aggregators can come up with a fair-play score so that sites get rewarded (say an extra bump in their original stories) when they consistently give props to other sites when they aggregate their content.
That’s what the esteemed Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb thinks is going on:
Google seems to imply in its announcement, though it doesn’t say it explicitly, that its algorithm will reward publishers who engage in the best practice of generously applauding great content on other sites with recognition.
Ethan Klapper at MediaBistro also wrote up the announcement from the Online News Association’s annual convention.
We at Contextly think this is a great innovation and to help it take hold will be building in the next week a simple way for writers to give shout-outs and call out their own work.
If you are a publication looking to add this and you also happen to want a better way to show related stories, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: EvelynIsHere/Flickr