Every day, Google News aggregates links to millions of stories from websites across the Internet based on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include a site’s trustability, relevance, page rank, title and keywords used in the specific articles.
In general, Google News would more likely pull a breaking story from the NYTimes.com versus a small blog that covers the same topic.
However, there are some cases where sites have learned to game the system and rank their news stories higher than original sources.
To combat this occurrence, Google has released a new feature that is meant to more accurately give authors and publishers credit for their original work.
The new feature allows publishers to ‘mark’ their stories with invisible metatags embedded in the page. A publisher can denote a story as ‘original content,’ which in turn will allow Google’s crawler robots to imbue the item with more weight. In addition, an organization that is reusing an article can mark it as ‘syndicated’ to bestow less weight on it.
This seems like a very useful system for those that play by the rules.
This feature will give publishers the ability to distinguish their articles from duplicates, which is very important. If the majority of publishers start to use the ‘original content’ tag, it will allow the tag itself to become more useful in ranking Google News content. However, if the tag is misused by spammers, scrapers and plagiarizers, than it will lose its value.
The system might work something like a new social networking site.
If the majority of people’s profiles are real and convey useful information than the site will probably be successful. If individuals and spam bots use the site primarily to market products and only a small portion of the profiles are real, than the site as a whole will lose its value (who wants to network with a fake person?)
Because Google lets anyone add an ‘original content’ metatag to a story, the strategy could go either way. The ‘syndicated’ tag may actually prove more useful, as organizations will have some sway over their distribution partners use of the tag. If Google’s crawlers find a large portion of content to be marked as ‘syndicated,’ than everything that isn’t might be considered more important. However, if you aren’t a legitimate partner in the first place, it’s also very unlikely that you will use the ‘syndicated’ tag.
Unfortunately, the scoundrels of the web are often just as quick at picking up on nuances and new technologies as are the legitimate content creators.
Legitmate organizations and individuals may utilize these new tools, while others will continue to try and take advantage of passing off original content as their own.