Rel=publisher - is it a standard HTML markup or valid meta tag?

Google recently introduced the Google+ Pages, which can be connected with the websites using the rel=publisher html markup. But is it an industry standard? Learn where does the rel=publisher markup / meta tag fit in the HTML 5 standards.

The much awaited Google+ for business was launched recently. Webmasters are busy creating Google+ pages for their websites and for their clients.

One of the interesting concepts in the Google+ Pages is the ability to connect websites with Google+ Pages using the rel=publisher meta tag or html markup. But it is interesting to note that this HTML markup will fail in HTML validations. In this article, I will cover how does the rel=publisher attribute fit in to the html standards and potential problems and benefits in using it.

Here is the summary of my research on rel=publisher html markup standard:

  • rel=publisher is not an html standard markup

  • rel=publisher meta tag/html markup was an accepted microformts in the past, but was dropped out recently from the recommendations

  • First major recommendation of rel=publisher markup in the industry is from Google to connect websites to the Google+ page of the publisher.

  • Since big brands (Google) recommend rel=publisher html markup, it could be reintroduced in to the HTML standard microformats soon

  • Microformats and HTML standards

    Microformats, defined at, is an open extension to existing standards like HTML. In the context of rel=publisher discussion, Microformats is a set of simple standards to provide additional meta information in web pages to provide meaningful and structured meta data. This definition is far from the true definition of Microformats and you can learn more about it here:

    Typically, the information in web pages are human readable but is not structured for search engines and software systems to analyze, organize, search and cross reference. Microformats are a way of adding some simple markups to web pages to make the data in the page more structured and meaningful for non-humans.

    For example, consider a business listing web page. A human can look at the page and find out which is the address and which is the phone number. But there is no reliable for a software like search engine to extract different pieces of information and store them separately.

    Microformats define a set of simple markups that can be used in webpages to represent each standard data format like street address, publish date, author, publisher, price, title, summary, description, type of content etc etc.

    Microformats is an open extension to existing standards, supported by various services like Google Search.

    Microformat markups are generally meta tags and are not visible for human in the web pages. They are meant to be processed by software like search engines.

    What is "rel" markup?

    "Rel" is a shortform for "relations" and is a valid HTML 4.01 attriute for the html elements "link" and "a".

    There are several "rel" microelements currently in use and the most popular ones are <link rel="stylesheet"> and <link rel="icon">, according to a study by Google.

    The markups rel="author" and rel="publisher" are gaining momentum since Google started promoting them heavily through the Google+ services.

    Is rel="publisher" a standard markup or valid microformat?

    The short answer is, No.

    rel="publisher" is not a valid microformat or standard yet. It was in the recommendations in the past as a HTML 4.0 markup, but currently it is dropped out, according to

    Information from on rel="publisher" markup

    Here is the relevant information from

    Microformat: publisher
    Description: identifies a hypertext link to a publisher
    Status: HTML4dropped (meaning, it was in the HTML 4.0 proposal but did not make it to the final recommendation)

    There is no additional information available in the for the rel=publisher markup.

    Information from on rel="publisher" markup

    Rel="publisher" markup is still listed in, but no information is available if it is approved or dropped.

    Here is the relevant information from
    The PUBLISHER relationship identifies a hypertext link to a publisher.
    Usage is expected to be similar to that of the AUTHOR hypertext link.

    However, rel="publisher" markup does not appear in the recommended LINK types at, indicating it is not a standard markup. Here is the full list of recommended LINK types, according to W3C:


    You can read more about the recommended link types from

    Who can add new microformats and how?

    Microformats represent open extension to existing standards and proposals to add new microformats are accepted. has defined a structured process to propose and accept new microformats. Read more about the process to propose new microformats to the specification:

    List of "Rel" attributes recently promoted by Google

    1. rel="me"
    rel="me" is used with hyperlinks on webpages about a person to other webpages/websites about the same person.

    2. rel="author"
    rel="author" is used with hyperlinks on content pages to represent the page of author of the content. This can be used to tell search engines who is the author of the current content page.

    3. rel="publisher"
    The rel="publisher" microformat is just started getting popular attention after Google announced it can be used to connect websites to Google+ Page of the publisher of the website.

    3. rel="nofollow"
    This markup is used with hyperlinks to indicate that the linked web page is not really endorsed by the linking page and search engines should not consider this link as a recommendation by this site.

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    More articles: Rel=publisher Google+ Pages Google+ Rel=author


    Guest Author: Tim18 Jan 2012

    Do you know if multiple unique rel="publisher" tags can be used on a single domain? For example: has several different publishing units that live on the sub directory level (Seattle, Chicago, New York)and each have a unique Google+ profile.

    Would I simply add the unique G+ profile link to rel="publisher" on each unique subdirectory like so:

    a rel="publisher" href=""
    a rel="publisher" href=""
    a rel="publisher" href=""

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