Will Listing Syndicators Adopt Google’s New Original-Source and Syndication-Source Tags? How About IDX Vendors?

Nov 16, 2010  |  Michael Wurzer

Read/Write Web today reports on an effort by Google to encourage web publishers to specify whether their content is original or syndicated. The problem focused on by Read/Write Web is that of Google News and how Google attributes the author of a story when it crawls the many syndicated copies out there:

The two new tags that Google introduced today are syndication-source and original-source. The syndication-source tag can be used to indicate the location of the original story. The original-source tag should be used to highlight the URL of “the first article to report a story.” A story that uses material from a variety of original sources can include more than one original-source tags to point to these. Both of these tags can also point to the current page URL, so publishers can call attention to their own original reporting. You can find more details for how to implement these tags on your site here.

For now, Google still calls this an experiment is only using the syndication-source tag in its rankings to distinguish among groups of duplicate articles. The original-source is “only being studied” and doesn’t factor into Google’s rankings yet.

Of course, duplicate listing content is a problem in the real estate space as well.  Here are several questions:

  • Should listing syndicators like ThreeWide (now owned Move, Inc.) and Point2 specify the original-source?
  • What should be the original source?
  • Does this also apply to IDX offerings?
  • If IDX listings contain the original-source tag and point it back to the listing broker, should this reduce the need to disclose the broker name on summary reports as apparently is the case now for franchise sites using IDX listings?
  • What other implications or uses do you see for these tags?

12 Responses to “Will Listing Syndicators Adopt Google’s New Original-Source and Syndication-Source Tags? How About IDX Vendors?”

  1. Phil Sexton says:

    Awesome Michael! Thank you for this article.

    I hope google figures out a way to do this right. With a whole bunch of REALTOR® websites all including the exact same indexable listings as their only content, I was wondering how google planned on sorting it all out.

    Is this a precursor for the wheels falling off the indexable listing bandwagon? I don’t know, but since I’m a fan indexable listings I’ll be watching to see how this unfolds.

    * Should listing syndicators like ThreeWide (now owned Move, Inc.) and Point2 specify the original-source? Yes

    * What should be the original source? The broker should have a toggle for either their website or the Agent’s website.

    * Does this also apply to IDX offerings? the Indexable ones

    * If IDX listings contain the original-source tag and point it back to the listing broker, should this reduce the need to disclose the broker name on summary reports as apparently is the case now for franchise sites using IDX listings? No

    * What other implications or uses do you see for these tags? Maybe these tags could replace hyperlinks when citing a source? Eh, I’m stretching here…

  2. Thanks for commenting, Phil.

    With regard to the original source, would there ever be a case for pointing to an MLS web site?

    I’m also curious about your reasons for answering no to the question about the summary views of listings. Given that franchise sites can now omit the listing broker name on summary or thumbnail views, I think others should be able to do so as well, especially with this attribution tag in place.

  3. John Coley says:

    I have been able to not syndicate my listings this far, relying on organic SEO. Maybe this means I won’t have to syndicate after all. I have been tempted of late, especially looking at g maps when you check the “real estate” box.

  4. Jim Duncan says:

    That didn’t take long. I knew that the “indexable listings” window was small, but wow, Google.

    To answer your questions –

    1 – Original source: the Broker or the agent
    2 – This should absolutely apply to IDX offerings. Listings aren’t original content created by the IDX users.
    3 – I’m no SEO guy, but I suspect that this could lead to the web becoming more efficient with duplicate content marked as such.

  5. Ron Stephan says:

    We require the syndicated site through 3Wide to point back to the source NEFMLS public page for the listing broker’s listing detail unless the listing broker has chosen to use 3Wide’s page or their own broker website page. This provides lead generation through our public site.

  6. Phil Sexton says:

    “With regard to the original source, would there ever be a case for pointing to an MLS web site?”

    Sure there would. Would there ever be a case for pointing to original content that’s password protected? Or is pointing to an MLS web site first dependent on whether they have a public facing site or not?

    “I’m also curious about your reasons for answering no to the question about the summary views of listings.”

    Chalk this one up to me not knowing what I’m talking about. I thought when you said Summary Reports you were talking about print outs for clients. But you’re talking about the first search results screen before clicking on ‘More Details’, right? I didn’t even know about that rule. Seems most tools in our market have the MLS listed in the summary view, not the listing broker.

    Regardless of it being the MLS or Listing Broker, I think it’s a good question. So are brokers going to want credit that people can see or credit that google can see. Both.

    But I’d argue that the summary view could also point to the details page as the source, then the details page would point to the MLS, listing broker, or whoever “they” decide should get the OG credit.

  7. Brian Wilson says:

    Michael,
    Do you know how it works when someone pulls real estate listings from Google Base (or marketplace they call it now) when it comes to these syndication requirements to point back?

    Meaning if I pull Google Base listings into my site do the syndication requirements that the source initially required of the initial syndication source “pass through” somehow?

  8. Silver Days says:

    I would like to know the answer to that also – If you pull Google base listings into your site does that mean you will have to tag source or must the source be taged, and how far back will you have to disclose?

  9. Brian and Silver Days, the terms of use for Google Base appear here: http://base.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=62594.

    I would presume that the source tags, if they exist, would pass through. From my very quick reading, by submitting listings to Google Base, the source grants Google a license to re-distribute the listings, but the source retains all other intellectual property rights.

  10. I have often wondered how syndication helped/hurt my websites but alway did as much of as I could to make my life easier…

  11. Milan Cole says:

    This should invariably help consumers and publishers of original content in the long run by helping make the waters of syndication a little less muddy.

  12. This is unfortunate from an SEO perspective for Realtors who have been indexing listings from the mls. Our page count will drop dramatically if google ignores the indexed mls pages.