Bit of a geekish posting – but one which quite excites me as it happens – which as you read on, you may decide is quite worrying!
I have a background in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), although the experience at my last employer left me quite wary of re-entering that particular world without cast-iron guarantees about being able to actually do the job properly before I sign a contract.
Anyhow – this morning it was announced that the three big players (Google, MSN and Yahoo!) have agreed to support a new meta-tag, which website owners can put into the header of their webpages to “strongly hint” which duplicate page is the more important.
For me this is wonderful.
To explain – I also run some news websites, and to track how people arrive if coming in from RSS feeds, newsletters etc – I add a tracker code to the url, along the lines of www.domain.com/story.php?source=rss or similar.
The difficulty is that other websites sometimes link to mine, using the url they got via email/rss/etc and hence if that story becomes popular, the search engines give priority to the tracked url – and that means I can get hits from Google, which shows up on my own internal counters as actually coming via the RSS feed.
Thanks to the new change – I can now add a meta tag to the header to hint to Google (etc) that actually, I’d prefer the plain URL without any tracking codes to be the one they list in their search results.
Incidentally, tracking the hits from the RSS source has a secondary benefit – as I can monitor the latest stories I upload and see how quickly Feedburner picks up the new story and passes it out to RSS readers.