After the presumed success of the Canonical meta tag, which was originally announced in February last year, Google has decided to trial two new meta tags for Google News. These Source Attribution Meta Tags are designed to help Google decide which article is the most authoritative for content. As the original material publisher, you can use one or both of these tags on your site to declare the material’s validity.
There are two tags to account for sites that do and don’t syndicate their content. If you do, you should be using both tags. If you don’t syndicate your content and are producing original material, you should just use the original-source tag. If you have used an article from another site in total, you should use the original source tag in the head to indicate this.
Both tags should live in the <head> of your document and are declared like this:
<meta name="syndication-source" content="http://www.example.com/wire_story_1.html">
I’m sure there will be a WordPress plugin coming this way soon! More help on how to use them can be found on the Google News Help site.
As SEL points out there is potential for these tags to be abused and Google has robustly said that they have the right to remove a site from Google News that is abusing these tags, or just ignore them.
In contrast to the canonical tag announcement, this is no combination of the search engines to agree on a new tag, it is Google deciding to go it alone, for a product that they produce. Mind you, the canonical tag was originally only working on Google, and there was no shortage of sites adopting that, so we should find this tag is equally well utilised, particularly if you create unique content and would like this to appear in Google News, like we often do with our News Content service. So this is a tag that we should be recommending that our clients use when they publish the articles that they receive from us.
At the moment, Google isn’t saying that they are using the tags for ranking, only that they will if they prove useful. So syndication-source will be used to distinguish between identical articles and original-source will only be studied. Basically Google are asking us to participate in an experiment to improve Google News results.
Google has spent a lot of time and effort on ways of identifying duplicate content including patenting their methods and these tags prove perhaps that they are still finding issues with identifying the originator of the information rather than the strongest site carrying the article.