You’re an Authority with Credibility to Share with Experts
You’re an authority. You’re up there. You respect others who are expert. You’d like search engines to respect your judgment of their expertise and let them rank higher in the results. Being higher would be useful to you, too. You’re more knowledgeable than most and that’s worth something.
This is now easier to accomplish.
A new set of HTML tags has been introduced. Add them to a couple of your pages and tell the experts you trust to add one tag to one of their pages and that may be all you need. Search engines can then evaluate what you have on your site and, if they agree that you’re an authority in an important field, they can raise your experts’ own Web pages higher in search results. It’s up to them, but you can help them.
You decide what your field of expertise is and you decide what to say about your qualifications as an authority. There’s no kitchen sink of checkboxes. You can say exactly what you mean.
You decide who the experts are. You use your own criteria and your own procedures. You can change this anytime. You’re the authority, so you keep the control.
New HTML Meta Tags: Pro and Pro-Auth
How this is being done is that four new HTML meta tags have been introduced and you can use them now. It’ll take a while for them to be widespread, but starting is not that hard. Search engines can discover your use of the tags when their bots parse your pages.
Your page gets one and your expert puts the other on their page. You put a partial URL in your tag. You tell the expert to put the same partial URL in their tag. When the partial URL is the same in both, that tells a search engine that you agree with each other about the expert’s merits.
Freedom From Lawsuits
Legal liability is kept down. The specification provides for that. While laws vary, the idea is that if the expert fumbles you shouldn’t get sued for touting the expert. If disclaimers are your cup of tea, pour as many as your lawyer says will be good.
If you prefer to limit this to use within a small network or one terminal, you can do that, too. You can add the “private” keyword to the “pro-auth” tag. Then the Internet will know to ignore the tag. But most of us will want the Internet to recognize your authority.
Authoritative in more than one relationship or field, are you? Go for it. You can have as many “pro-auth” tags as you can write, each with a different partial URL, and/or multiple “pro-auth-field” and/or “pro-auth-fragment” tags. It just depends on your situation.
New HTML Meta Tags: Pro-Auth-Field and Pro-Auth-Fragment
- These are the only other tags in this set:
- pro-auth-field (pro-auth-field spec)
- pro-auth-fragment (pro-auth-fragment spec)
One states the field of authority. You write it in free-form text of your choice. Search engines can evaluate that claim.
The other distinguishes the links that are to expert content from the links that aren’t. For example, an authority on space travel might link to both NASA and Disney, but consider only one of those an expert.
In the visible list of links to experts, you surround the links with HTML markup that identifies a fragment. You can use the HTML span element to do that, and other elements can serve, too. More than one fragment is okay. A “pro-auth-fragment” tag gives the name of the fragment meant for this purpose. Presto, search engines can tell the expert links from the ordinary links.
How Many Tags?
Since your site is the one with authority, usually you only need three tags. They’re the “pro-auth”, “pro-auth-field”, and “pro-auth-fragment” meta tags. Once the links and tags are set up, you can tell the experts. Meanwhile, the expert can just get started on its own, buiilding content and tagging it.
The site with expertise only needs (usually) one tag, the meta “pro” tag.
Usage in Depth
Here are the main details of use:
You, the authority, pick a page of your own that tells the world why we should believe your authority and lists links to experts you like. It may be on a few pages or across many or all on one. The content about why to believe you may be on the “about” page, it may be on a separate page, it may be anywhere, and it may be divided across a few pages, if you wish. Redundancy is not needed.
The links to experts can be in one list or several, on one page or several, organized any way you like, and annotated or not. You write what you want. You’re the authority.
You then add to just those pages the following three elements (the content gives examples only):
<meta name="pro-auth" content="www.history.example.org/widgets" />
<meta name="pro-auth-field" content="widgets Florida 1920s" />
<meta name="pro-auth-fragment" content="#experts-in-wisconsin" />
An expert only needs to add one tag:
<meta name="pro" content="www.history.example.org/widgets" />
The content field has to match between the “pro” and “pro-auth” tags, to help a search engine. It contains a partial URL (usually meaning without “https://” or “http://”). The partial URL is chosen by the authority and usually is the authority’s website or page.
What Search Engines Do
When a search engine updates its database of websites, it will discover the “pro” and “pro-auth” pages and see that they have the same partial URL, thus associating those two together. That will set those two pages apart as different from all other “pro” and “pro-auth” pages.
With the “pro-auth” pages, the search engine may look to see if it should treat the claimed authority as a real authority. Does the authority know what it’s talking about? Does the subject even matter? If the search engine decides yes for both, then the links from that authority deserve to be treated as expert links. The experts might then be given higher prominence in search results.
And, it’s reasonable to think, if a search engine judges you as a good authority, your own content could rise in the results, too.
Giving and Receiving: You Can Have Both Roles
One good turn deserves another. An expert you’ve approved can also be an authority listing other experts. A top scholar can list other scholars whose work is good and they in turn can authoritatively list popularizers who do a good job in their field. Thus, someone with a “pro” meta tag can also carry a “pro-auth” meta tag on the same page, with a “pro-auth-field” tag that’s the same as or different from the one for the authority above. And while you’re an authority, a higher or lateral authority can decide that you’re an expert in their field, and then you’d carry both “pro-auth” and “pro” tags. Thus, a web of leading experts can easily be found across the Web, and you won’t have to find everyone yourself.
Keep your experts list up to date and repeat. You’re an authority and you’re helping people.