AOP Link Attribution Protocol; Summary of Principles
Following feedback from several of its publisher members, the AOP aims to raise awareness of fair link attribution and encourage best practice among the digital publishing community, as we continue to move towards a fairer, more transparent ecosystem.
As the leading official body representing so many of the UK’s publishing groups, the AOP is perfectly positioned to communicate the value of a ‘Link Attribution Protocol’ and facilitate its implementation.
The ‘Protocol’ is based on evidence and feedback gathered from members and provides a practical solution, supported by the AOP’s publisher member collective. The representatives involved encourage wider adoption from all other key industry stakeholders, to help ensure publishers are suitably credited for the original content they produce.
Premium publishers work hard to produce original content in the form of investigations, analysis or showbiz exclusives and, of course, they want as many people as possible to read their stories.
The issue is that not all publishers link back to the original source of a story – even if they name check the publication.
Fair attribution is vital to help publishers get credit for the time, money, and effort they put into sourcing, investigating, and producing original content.
As well as helping direct users to the original source of a story, linking is vitally important for SEO. Google uses links from ‘prominent websites’ as a signal to determine ‘authoritativeness’ – a key factor in determining ranking.
Yes. Follow links are important because they pass link value on to the recipient. Publishers should be supporting each other and doing everything they can to make sure original reporting is rewarded.
A nofollow is primarily used to indicate a commercial relationship to Google or because you don’t want search engines to associate your website with the site you are linking to.
According to SEMrush – an online visibility management and content marketing SaaS platform – a nofollow link is defined as:
There is no reason to add nofollow when linking to a valuable resource like the original source of a story from a premium publisher.
Yes, it could benefit a competitor but if every publisher applies the same standards, then everyone enjoys the benefits.
Publishers supporting this Protocol and who are committed to fair attribution should follow the process outlined below:
Registering for the Protocol:
Protocol Process for Registered Publishers:
Authoritativeness signals help prioritise high-quality information from the most reliable sources available. To do this, our systems are designed to identify signals that can help determine which pages demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness on a given topic, based on feedback from Search raters. Those signals can include whether other people value the source for similar queries or whether other prominent websites on the subject link to the story.
Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?