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Google has added a feature to its news search that will allow publishers to elevate some stories over others in their stable.

The Google News “featured” content will allow publishers to add “standout” metadata tags to stories when they have a scoop, exclusive, investigative project, or presumably need to suck up to an advertiser.

The tag won’t guarantee elevation, but Google’s David Smydra posted that it will be factored into the Google News search algorithm.

In the eternal beta of Google’s product cycle, this is another beta, with Smydra’s post saying that “at this stage” publishers should restrict their use of the tag to seven times a week. Over-use of the tag will be punished by tags getting down-rated (El Reg: By now, we suppose, SEO specialists in big publishers are already thinking about how to game the tag).

Taking, perhaps, an overly-sunny view of the often-spiteful attitude publishers hold towards each other, Google hopes that publishers will use the “standout” tag not only on their own stories, but also “the journalistic contributions of others when your stories draw from the standout efforts of other publications”, since “linking to other sites … is important for earning trust”.

The blog post doesn’t detail whether cross-linking “standout” tags will favour publishers who can cross-link between under the same ownership, but on geographically-dispersed servers.

Google News has had a troubled relationship with news organisations since it was launched, particularly drawing the ire of Rupert Murdoch. ®

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