Google’s Supplemental Results – SEO Tip Week 29

Written on July 20, 2007 – 6:19 pm | by Shell Harris |

52 SEO TipsGoogle is indexing more pages now then ever before, but that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes these pages get sent to the supplemental index instead of the main index. It’s perfectly normal for most sites to have some pages in the supplemental index, but if your main pages (and especially your home page) get sent to the supplemental index you’ll likely not see much traffic from Google any more.

My site’s listed in the supplemental results, what does that mean?
As Google states, “Supplemental sites are part of Google’s auxiliary index.” Google will always show results from their main index before showing results from the supplemental index. This means that supplemental pages will almost never show up for searches, and will only show up for super specialized searches if few or no results come from the main index. With so many blogs and tag pages out there, even crazy many-word searches will bring back at least a few non-supplemental results.

How did my site get in the supplemental index?
One way pages end up in the supplemental index instead of the main index is a lack of PageRank (PR). This could be because you orphaned the page (no links pointing to it), the page lies too many clicks away from your home page, or your home page itself has a very low PR. If this is the case, you should work on your link building to those important pages of your site and build up their PageRank.

The other way your pages end up in the supplemental index is by having duplicate content on your page. This could be because you used the same manufacturer written product description that dozens of other sites use, you copied content from another website, or your pages have very little content and too much template which is duplicated on all pages. If this is the case, try writing unique content or changing your template so it doesn’t have the same elements on every page.

I changed my pages, what’s next?
Now that you’ve fixed your pages, it can be a long and hard process for getting them out of the supplemental index because the supplemental spider doesn’t come along very often. You should create or edit your Google sitemap XML file and hope that will be enough. If that doesn’t work, try changing the name (URL) of those pages and delete the old file.

Feel free to add your own observations about supplemental results here, we’d love to hear your stories.

Shell Harris co-founded Big Oak on January 1, 2004. In a previous career he was a print & web designer and often developed the sites he designed before focusing on his current passion for search engine optimization and Internet marketing. He is an avid researcher, SEO specialist, company mouthpiece and is always looking for the next big thing in Internet Marketing.

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  1. 6 Responses to “Google’s Supplemental Results – SEO Tip Week 29”

  2. By WordPress Guru Advice on Jul 24, 2007 | Reply

    The duplicate content issue is what keeps me awake at night. Since WordPress creates many URLs to reach the same contents I used to think that I get penalized.

    Though there are some who say that it is only a penalty when you have contents duplicated outside the domain. What do you think ?

  3. By Chris Alexander on Jul 24, 2007 | Reply

    Hello WordPress Guru,

    That is a problem many blogs face.

    I’ve seen some large blogs with 90% of their indexed pages be in the supplemental results index. There used to be a method for easily checking your supplemental pages vs. main indexed pages in Google, but Google seems to have stopped that functionality.

    A site search on your domain shows 44 pages indexed & by my count 15 of those are in the supplemental index. That’s a pretty good ratio.

  4. By Kirkwood on Jul 25, 2007 | Reply

    If you delete the old pages and rename them, should you 301/302 them for those who do happen to stumble onto them? Or would that just keep them stuck in the supl. ??

  5. By Shell Harris on Jul 25, 2007 | Reply

    Using a 301 permanent redirect is this safe and wise choice here. Sometimes you can do a 302 in the beginning and the change to a 301 after the new page gains popularity, but I’d just do the 301 and move on.

  6. By Some Guy on Jul 27, 2007 | Reply

    I had a bunch of pages in the supplemental index and assumed it was due to WordPress’ structure. I created a good robots.txt, optimized titles, created 301 redirects. Slowly – slowly – google began properly excluding pages in accordance with the robots.txt file – but still, several weeks later, my supplemental count is horrible – sometimes 90%. I guess it just takes a really long time to shake them out.

  7. By bill on May 27, 2008 | Reply

    When a page is launched Google does an analysis of the page which includes a series of unique qualifiers in different algorithms to determine which index the page will be placed in, the page rank, and the keyword set it will be ranked for. I believe content uniqueness and quality is what Google uses first to determine which index to place the page in.

    You have about a month of to get quality links to it:

    In about a month Google implements a second analysis for inbound links from quality sites to determine if it will keep it in the index. If a page has no links coming to it, Google assumes the content is not what people might be searching for or is not popular, and there is a strong possibility that it will be put in the supplemental index.

    Getting Pages Out Of the Supplemental:

    Once a page is placed in the supplemental index the quickest way to get it to the primary index is to build QUALITY links to the page from other pages both internal and external.

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