In yet another attempt to filter the news, Google has announced a new HTML tagging system which it hopes will prioritize original features and cut out copy-cat churn from search results.
"Every day, news organizations and journalists around the world dedicate significant time and resources toward some of the most critical types of coverage: exceptional original reporting, deep investigative work, scoops and exclusives, and various special projects that quite clearly stand out," read a recent Google blog, clearly giving the modern news industry far too much credit.
But Google apparently does want to give journalists credit, especially for "standout" content, with the search giant benevolently promising the new content tag for the US edition will "give even more credit where credit is due." Barf. Thanks Goog.
The tag itself is a little bit of HTML cleverly inserted into the header of articles in the backend, allowing Google News to show the story with a flashy little 'featured' label sure to attract the highly selective, discerning, picky Internet news reader of today.
That code looks a bit like this apparently:
The Internet behemoth says the tag can be used "to point to your own content or to point to other sources with standout stories," because apparently helping others' content shine is good Internet etiquette and will raise your site's esteem in Google's eyes. And what are news sites today if not willful, bratty little children still desperately seeking their father's approval?
"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," says the blog. Yes, dad, thanks for the preachy lesson in Internet morality, can we go out and play now?
Also, if you're worried that encoding stand-out brilliance into your article's HTML DNA may not look very modest, there's no need to sweat it, because the code will purportedly "only be seen by automated systems like Google News, not by direct readers of your articles themselves."
Until someone gets around it, of course. And then you'll look like a pompous ass. Though perhaps not TOO much of a pompous ass, seeing as Google recommends you not exceed seven taggings a week. Sorry, the Internet just cannot handle more than seven original stories per publication a week. It will explode.
"If a site exceeds that limit, it may find that its tags are less recognized, or ignored altogether," Google warns. IGNORED! Ye Gods. Please, please, NO!
Of course, this move is just part of Google's wider Panda algorithm which was recently introduced to keep all of us news lackeys in check by clearing out the riff-raff and prioritizing the really important stuff that Google wants you all to read.
In Google's words, "To be clear, Standout tags are just one signal among the many signals that algorithmically determine prominence on Google News. We recognize the importance of giving credit where credit is due, and believe this tag can be a step in the right direction - but it will only succeed if the publisher community helps it succeed."
Yes, help us help you. Or else. You will be ignored. And your content will be as to dust. Amen.