What exactly are Google’s supplemental results, why does everyone fear getting indexed in the supplemental index and how can you get out of the supplemental results again? Here is a quick summary of the most important facts regarding Google’s supplemental results.
What Are Supplemental Results?
Here’s Google’s explanation of supplemental results in their Webmaster Help Center:
“A supplemental result is just like a regular web result, except that it’s pulled from our supplemental index. We’re able to place fewer restraints on sites that we crawl for this supplemental index than we do on sites that are crawled for our main index. For example, the number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in our main index; however, it could still be crawled and added to our supplemental index.
If you’re a webmaster, please note that the index in which a site is included is completely automated; there’s no way to select or change the index in which a site appears. Please also be assured that the index in which a site is included doesn’t affect its PageRank.”
How Do You Know You Are Looking at a Supplemental Result?
On Google’s search results pages, the term “Supplemental Result” is listed on the last line of a search result, behind the page’s URL and size. Example:
www.test.com/2006/09/example-article.asp – 33k – Supplemental Result – Cached – Similar pages
Why Does a Page Land in the Supplemental Results?
Accepted wisdom says that supplemental results are basically a tool to thwart search engine spam – including spammy doorway pages, duplicate content or spammy blog post pages in the supplemental results will prevent them from ranking higher in Google than legitimate content. Another explanation is that if Google has some kind of trouble indexing the page, it gets placed in the supplemental results.
What Do Supplemental Results Mean for Your Ranking?
Historically, pages in the supplemental result have not been spidered as frequently as pages in the regular Google index, and the index may also contain less data about the URL – so basically, the page is considered less important than a page in the regular index. A supplemental page will normally show up in search results behind regular index results, which is obviously not good for your ranking at all. Some people also assume (rightly or wrongly) that a supplemental result is less trustworthy than a regular result.
On the positive side, Google states that the PageRank (which heavily relies on the number and quality of inbound links to a page) is unaffected by whether the pages is in the regular or supplemental results. Google’s Matt Cutts also mentioned in one of his video blogs from July 2006 that Google’s supplemental results team has made an effort to increase the speed with which supplemental results are being refreshed, so there should be less of a problem with infrequent spidering in the future.
How Can You Get Out of the Supplemental Results?
In July 2006, Matt Cutts made the following comment on his blog: “In general, the best way I know of to move sites from more supplemental to normal is to get high-quality links (don’t bother to get low-quality links just for links’ sake).” So make sure you get some non-spammy links for your page!
Of course, you also need to make sure that your page has high quality content and cannot be mistaken for spam – this doesn’t only include the copy on your page, but also things like error-free HTML and unique meta tags for each of your pages.
You might want to check that Google hasn’t accidentally spidered two versions of the same page and thrown one or both of them into the supplemental results (eg, www.example.com/example1 and www.example.com/example1.html may be two individual pages with the same content). In this case, there should really only be one page, so you should implement a 301 redirect from the page you don’t want to keep to the page you do want to keep. It may take a while, but the redirect should be picked up by Google eventually.
Do you have any experience with or tips on getting out of supplemental results? Let us know!