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The Google Supplemental Index
The Google Supplemental Index
If you run a website or internet business you have probably heard about Google's Supplemental Index, no doubt you are searching for information about this right now and have stumbled across our article. You may have even heard it being referred to as Google Hell, being condemned to Google Hell or similar. Some even call this a banning, or penalty which it isn't.. Simply a filter.
Us webmasters are passionate about Google. There is no argument about it for one very valid reason, Google simply delivers the more search engine traffic then any other Search Engine on the internet. Check your websites stats and you will see Google can supply 70% or more of your traffic.
So, suddenly finding the majority of your pages thrown into Google's Supplemental Index can result in a large drop in business. It should be a large concern, as these pages will rank nowhere for their respective keywords.
Matt Cutts who is Google's "public" voice and head of the Google spam team responded in his own blog by saying:
"Having urls in the supplemental results doesn't mean that you have some sort of penalty at all, the main determinant of whether a url is in our main web index or in the supplemental index is simply PageRank or rather the lack of it."
Regardless of what Google maintains, being in the supplemental results isn't a good thing for any webmaster or internet business. The fact it's called a supplemental index simply means it's not as important as the main index. This index consists of duplicate pages, pages less important or less trusted by Google, thus the lower Pagerank.
Technicalities aside, webmasters should try to keep their important web pages out of the supplemental index. Why you be satisfied with having your pages or website buried in hidden boxes in the back storeroom when they want them displayed in the Store's Window, preferably front row center position?
Lately, despite webmasters wishes Google seems to be placing alot of emphasis on the Supplemental Index and putting more pages there. One can only guess, but it may have to do with improving their search index. The more relevant Google's search results become, the larger the market share. Or my personal belief is it has to do with MFA or "Made For Adsense" websites that offer no real user experience besides throwing poor pages together to reap the Adsense clicks.
Regardless, you don't want your pages in the Supplemental Index unless they are really unimportant pages that make no difference. However, you still need to check this supplemental index for your own pages as a high proportion of Supplemental pages can indicate a "weak" or non-authorative website in general.
How To Check Google's Supplemental Index
You can go to Google search and type in:
site:www.domain.com *** -sjpked
Replacing "domain.com" with your URL to see what pages are indexed in Google's Supplemental Index.
If you see any important pages there you should check your whole linking structure of your site. Are these pages linked properly, or are they orphaned? Are they well positioned in your internal site structure? If there is obvious internal linking problems with these pages you need to fix the issue.
Also have your pages all got their own unique Meta Titles and Descriptions? If not that may be a potential cause. Also has your URL's got character strings such as domain.com/index.php?t=351917#post3325333
If so, it's an excellent idea to rewrite them using .htaccess to more user and spider friendly URL's such as domain.com/gardening/green-tomatoes.html
This is also known as CRU's or Content Relevant Url's, meaning they have keywords relevant to the documents content present in the URL's. Also when these CRU's are hyperlinked on the web, it can deliver more traffic and targeted traffic at that. The character string URL doesn't look too inviting to click on does it? It could contain anything on the page, a user doesn't know until it loads. With a CRU the user can actually "see" what the page is about, and you will get alot more people looking for Gardening information based on tomatoes with the CRU then the Character string URL.
Check out our Ultimate Htaccess guide.
It is also a good idea to see what percentage of your pages are in the supplamental index.
How To Calculate Supplemental Index Ratio
You can get the percentage of Supplemental results by dividing the number of pages in the supplemental index by the total number of pages in the main index.
site:www.yoursite.com *** -sjpked
This will give you a good indication of the overall strength of your site. If you have too high a ratio or too many pages in the supplemental index you should fix your site's linking structure and remove duplicate pages. Make sure robots can crawl all of your pages or at least the ones you want them to crawl.
If you do find your site or too many of your site's pages in Google's Supplemental Index, try to increase the PageRank or "authority" of those pages.
This is the main remedy quoted from Matt Cutts of Google:
"The approach I'd recommend in that case is to use solid white-hat SEO to get high-quality links (e.g. editorially given by other sites on the basis of merit)."
In other words, raise your PageRank to get those pages out of the supplemental index. This has always been the basic key to getting traffic from Google. Quality content plus quality links equals quality traffic from Google.
Likewise: QC + QL = No Supplemental Index
It is always a good practice to keep on the good side of Google. No need to be paranoid, but you don't want to do anything to bring unwanted attention to your site, especially the kind of attention that may get your pages thrown into Google Supplemental Index in the first place. Besides, you never know how long it will take to get your pages back out and into the main index where they truly belong.
If your having problems with your site or it's pages being in the Supplemental Index, TareeInternet can offer solutions to get them out in the main index and start drawing visitors from natural Search Engine Traffic.
Update 31st July 2007
Google has announced their Supplemental Index has been removed.
In a recent announcement on Google Webmaster Central, the Google team have stated the "labelling" of Supplemental results have been removed. Many self proclaimed experts on various webmaster forums have stated this is great, but quite frankly it is not great at all.
Nothing has changed with these Supplemental Pages, they still won't mysteriously receive any more traffic then they originally done just their Supplemental Result tag is no longer visible.
Google has stated:
"The changes we make must focus on improving the search experience for our users. Since 2006, we've completely overhauled the system that crawls and indexes supplemental results. The current system provides deeper and more continuous indexing. Additionally, we are indexing URLs with more parameters and are continuing to place fewer restrictions on the sites we crawl.
As a result, Supplemental Results are fresher and more comprehensive than ever. We're also working towards showing more Supplemental Results by ensuring that every query is able to search the supplemental index, and expect to roll this out over the course of the summer."
Giving every search query the "ability" to query the Supplemental Index clearly denotes this index will NOT be removed, but rather it will remain intact with Google being able to dig in to these results. However, these results will no doubt only appear when a search fails to return enough results such as a search for "tomato seed stores in Antarctica".
So, if we can't identify pages that have the Supplemental Result tags what are we to do in order to identify problems in our site to gain traffic and increase the user experience?
Well i have not seen this mentioned anywhere, however after checking data the solution is fairly simple. Taree Internet has or rather had no Supplemental pages besides 4 that i blocked with Robots.txt but hadn't dropped out of the index yet so it's not a real good case. However i own numerous other sites, including some large article directories that indeed had pages in the Supplementals. With all my other sites, when i conducted a site:www.domain.com query in Google, the one thing in common was every site's Supplemental pages appeared LAST in this query.
Lo and behold, these pages still appear in exactly the same locations only with the Supplemental Result tag removed. Actually Google in a rough fashion places your pages in order of general importance with the site: query. You will generally see your Homepage listed first, then the pages one click from the homepage etc working through your site's URL's with the lower authority (Supplementials) last.
So.. In order to boost those pages that are Supplemental minus the tags, do a site:www.domain.com query and skip to the last result. If this page is important to your site, procede with the normal procedures for correcting Supplemental pages such as getting backlinks to it, ensuring it has unique Meta Description and Title, assess your internal link structure etc.
Then move on to the second last result and so on. If you do this procedure once a month you should notice the last pages you worked on will move up and are replaced with different pages. These different pages can now be "considered" Supplemental or rather the weakest pages on your site, so just repeat the process to keep making your site as solid as possible.
Ok i've found another Google command to display Supplemental pages, and it appears to display supps accurately.
Go to Google and type:
This is something i've only just discovered, i'll have to do some research and find out if it's an official command however upon using it for sites which used to display the supplemental this displays the same pages as the old Supp results.
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