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Google News introduced a new metadata tag to help news publications highlight their original, quality content. The announcement, made today at the Online News Associate conference in Boston, is the latest attempt by Google News to help readers find relevant articles amid the din of the 24-hour online news cycle.

The Google News team is asking publications to use a new Standout tag in their HTML to mark “exceptional original reporting, deep investigative work, scoops and exclusives, and various special projects that quite clearly stand out,” the company says in a blog post. Marked articles may be anointed with a “Featured” label in Google’s listings, but it’s not guaranteed.

It’s a common problem facing online publications: extra time, money and effort are put into generating original features. But these articles are often lost in a sea of breaking news, rebogged content and iPhone 5 rumor posts. Google’s new tag will allow publishers to mark the articles they have put additional effort into, hopefully helping the pieces get the recognition (and traffic) they deserve.

A publication can only use the tag on seven of its own articles a week, but it can use it an unlimited number of times when linking to worthy articles on other sites. Currently, the feature is only available for the U.S. edition of Google News.

To use the Standout tag, add it to the HTML header of an article, or to any link pointing to another site’s article, like this:

<link rel=”standout” href=“” />

Google hopes the feature catches on as more than just a tool for self-promotion, since it encourages respect and recognition between 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,” the company says.

[via Search Engine Land]

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