Google Autolink Opt Out Meta Tag

Mar 4, 2005 - 8:18 am 0 by
Filed Under Misc Google

Chris Ridings sent me this email and I thought it is an excellent idea. So please take the time to read it and make a decision as to the action you want to take.

Good morning Barry,

Thought this might interest you:

I thought you might be interested to know that we're pushing an opt out meta tag targetted at any application that alters content client side. Full details are on the script page: but I'll reproduce them here for your convenience:

"First things first - we've just made up this meta tag. It's actually not supported by anything yet! So why, I hear you ask, might you implement it? The answer is easy: because there should be one that programs such as the Google Toolbar listen to. People like Google aren't going to invent one for us, their reps have practically said as much. If, as webmasters, we all start using the same one then pretty soon honourable software developers will start to use it and then, hopefully, some of the rest will follow.

The very presence of such a tag on webmaster's pages makes a point. It says to developers such as Google "Hey! You should be paying attention to this. This is what we want. This is what we want to allow you to do here and this is what you shouldn't".

So we're asking you to help Google and Co do the right thing by placing a tiny little meta tag on your pages and maybe asking other webmasters to do the same thing. You can, of course, put it on your pages in addition to the Javascript we've given you (and we recommend you do until Google eventually decides to give an opt out mechanism - hopefully by recognizing this tag).

As an encouragement to honourable software developers we'll be listing and linking to the programs that obey this meta tag here. Go to the SearchGuild forums and let us know if you're the developer of such a software program

Without further ado here are the details of the tag and how to use it. For people not familiar with meta tags you need to put it in the HEAD section of your HTML.

The meta tag consists of two parts: a name part and a content part. The name is always "ContentAltering". The form of the tag is as follows:

<meta name="ContentAltering" content="{restrictions}">

{restrictions} is replaced with text representing restrictions on content changing of the page. The possibilities are:

* none - the web page author requests no client side content altering
* links - the web page author requests that client side
applications may only alter links or add links to the page
* content - the web page author requests that client side applications may only alter content but not modify links or produce links to other sites
* all - the web page author allows client side applications to alter anything

Thus the following requests no client side altering of the page:

<meta name="ContentAltering" content="none">

Additionally {restrictions} may be divided into sections and targeted to specific applications by using a semi-colon (;) to seperate sections. Each section consists of the application name followed by a colon (:) and then the restrictions. The application name is decided by the developer (so these are just examples seen as there aren't any supporting developers yet!) e.g.
<meta name="ContentAltering" content="GoogleToolbar:none;OtherCoProduct:links">

Where {restrictions} contains such application targetting then any section which does not contain an application name followed by a colon is taken as the default for all other applications. e.g. to request no changes from Google, links from OtherCo and default to allow all other applications to change anything:

<meta name="ContentAltering" content="GoogleToolbar:none;OtherCoProduct:links;all"> "

Granted it seems a bit silly to push a meta tag that no developer listens to yet but it's use will, hopefully, create a response and recognizes that this is likely to be more than just a Google problem in the future. Basically we believe it's the smartest way forward for this issue and the only one that protects webmasters in the future. If Google won't create one then webmasters should and push Google to acknowledge it.

Kind Regards,


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