Google – New Meta Tags To ID Original Source For Content

Google – New Meta Tags To ID Original Source For Content

Could meta tags be making a comeback?

Google is experimenting with two new meta tags to help it identify the original sources of online content. The tags are called syndication-source and original source. This is an interesting way to tease apart content sources, since tags are easily abused. They went away with the power of meta tags years ago, so we will see how they can combat spam. Since the amount of new content that is published each day and social media presence in search engine results is only going to increase, search engines need to find a way to track content sources.

SEO Pledge - Google New Meta Tags

Could Meta Tags Mean Something Again?


Web sites that syndicate their content to others can use the syndication-source meta tag to tell Google that theirs is the one that should be included in Google News. In a perfect world, the tag will be used by both the site that syndicates its content, as well as the site that receives and publishes the syndicated content from another source. The tag looks like this:

meta name=”syndication-source” content=””


The original-source meta tag can be used by publishers wanting to claim their article as the original version. In a sense, it’s somewhat like the rel=”canonical” tag, which can be used to indicate the canonical version of similar web pages.

Similarly, Google says this meta tag can also be used in the same way publishers link to other sites. For example, since this article is also referencing an announcement on the Google News blog, we could use the original-source tag similarly to how we cite them via a link.

In fact, Google says you can cite several different sources with multiple versions of this tag if you want to credit each one that led to the article you’ve published. The tag looks like this:

meta name=”original-source” content=””

Spam Problems

Meta tags are an invitation to spam for some people. So there is nothing stopping any content publisher from scraping and re-publishing an article, while using one or both of these tags to claim the original version. Worse, there’s also nothing to stop a high-trust, authoritative site from using, or misusing these tags.

Google’s blog post talks about this being an experiment and needing to see how people use these tags. They will probably spend more time trying to stop the misuse. Google says they may reduce the importance assigned to the metatags on a site if they are abused, and they also reserve the right to remove a site completely from Google News. (Please note these tags are currently being experimented in Google News, not on

Google has a help page on the new meta tags.

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4 responses on “Google – New Meta Tags To ID Original Source For Content

  1. [...] Google – New Meta Tags To ID Original Source For Content | SEO Pledge. Link to this [...]

  2. Courtney Ramirez says:

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I know that meta tags have kind of been seen as the low man on the totem pole as far as serious optimization goes (esp. keywords, which can help slightly). With syndication so popular, I can see how this would help to give credit where credit is due (the original source). I hope this experiment pays off!

  3. Langston Richardson says:

    Why don’t Google formulate this solution to work like it’s Analytics tool where encrypted tokens can be authenticate the original owner and the referrer. I know that this may be an over-simplification of the idea but it’s taken us this long to figure out that Meta tags were indeed useful so why not work towards a way to make this work without fear of spam abuse.

  4. Ramiro Rodriguez says:

    I don’t even pay attention to meta tags and I still rank on the first page for several of my keywords.

    Instead of putting keywords in meta tags the keywords now go in the h1 and h2 tags.

    And right under the tags.

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