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Google Supplemental Results

At the beginning of August 2007, Google announced that it would stop labelling Supplemental Results.

In reality though, Supplemental result pages still exist, but they no longer have the 'Supplemental Result' label next to them. To back up these changes, Google issued a statement in its blog: Supplemental goes mainstream.

In order to check which pages of a site are fully indexed, a webmaster can use the site:www.thedomain.com/* command which returns a list of fully indexed pages. Then compare this to the results returned with site:www.thedomain.com without the suffix /* and note the difference. In reality it's quite normal for a site to have 15 - 20 % of its pages in the supplemental index. Low PR sites may have even more supplemental indexed pages.

No End to "Google Hell"

Google Supplemental Results (as featured in the Forbes article "Condemned to Google Hell") are web pages which are only partially Google indexed and are on the borderline of being totally removed from the Google index.

The causes of Supplemental result pages range from not having enough Page Rank to achieve full domain indexing or having pages which are either too similar or duplicate content. In this article we explore how to get pages out of the Supplemental results and back into the main Google index and most importantly examine the clear link between supplemental problems and websites which have developed poor Google trust through bad SEO techniques.

There's no doubt that Supplemental pages are very bad for business - the fact that Supplemental pages never see the light of day in the Google search results is case in point. More recently, websites with few trusted inbound links are finding it increasingly hard to compete in the Google results. Even if such sites are offering quality content they will often never be found and frankly this is the most unfair aspect of all of this. Google's policy of continually devaluing many sources of links and lowering Page Rank, further adds to the misery of trying to keep small websites indexed and ranked. It's no wonder some people resort to buying links!

After the Google Big Daddy update, many more web pages entered the Google Supplemental index. We explore the reasons and provide tips for getting out of Supplemental Results below.

Supplemental Result Ranking Effects

Pages which are in the Supplemental Results are usually heavily filtered by Google and can be hard to find in the SERP (organic search results). Generally, only very non-competitive, niche search terms will show any Supplemental Result pages in the top 10 SERP results.

For this reason, Supplemental result problems can really condemn a business to "Google hell" by significantly reducing online revenue, particularly on an e-commerce site offering many different product variations around a common theme. Getting out of supplemental results is a necessity!

Google supplemental result problem - example page

Common Causes of Supplemental Pages

  • Google Trust Problems -

    There is some debate about this, but there does appear to be a link between loss of Google Trust (or low trust) and Supplemental pages. Websites which develop Google Trust issues or have low trust due to the fact they are new, seem to be more badly affected by Supplemental results than older, more trusted sites with more backlinks from trusted domains.

    Google Trust can be lost by linking out to bad neighbourhoods and link farms, or by extensively using reciprocal link directories with 'free-for-all linking' - a strategy which used to improve organic search engine ranking a few years ago, but now has a negative effect, particularly in Google. A website which exists solely on reciprocal links, with few one way links is more likely to suffer loss of Google trust and get more of its page in the Supplemental results, than sites which have attracted quality one way links as an indicator of quality.

    The definition of Google Trust -

    A complex measurement of website quality and web popularity. It is loosely based on how many backlinks a website has from authority (hub) sites in related field/s.

    The definition of Google Trusted sites -

    well established websites which often have top 10 Google organic ranking for competitive terms and an established following, being established leaders in their field. For links from trusted sites to benefit your website ranking, they must be related to your website theme.

    If you suspect that loss of Google trust has caused Supplemental Results on your website, then re-assess your SEO strategy away from reciprocal linking and concentrate on building quality content to attract more one way links. Also  consider removing reciprocal links to non related sites, particularly if you have a 'reciprocal link directory' on your site. Remember that reciprocal linking should not be done to excess - so consider more worthwhile methods of website promotion, such as article writing and submission to decent article sites like Ezine Articles.

  • Low Page Rank -

    One of the most common causes of Supplemental Result problems is not enough homepage Google Page Rank (PR) to ensure that all internal pages of a website achieve full indexing. This is made worse where websites have lots of pages resulting in PageRank being spread too thin. Since Page Rank is passed between pages via both internal and external links the importance of having quality links to your site and decent internal navigation are paramount to get out of Supplemental Results. Matt Cutts SEO Blog singles out low Page Rank as the most common cause of Supplemental Result pages, in his May 2007 article Google Hell. Low Page Rank in itself is frequently caused by a lack of inbound links from other websites (hence it's a common problem on a new website). Bear in mind too that Page Rank reductions have also occurred on many sites due to Google's devaluation of links from low quality sources such as link exchange directories. Reduced homepage Page Rank caused by link devaluation can then directly cause Supplemental Results to show on previously fully indexed content.

    It's worth checking the number of "in-links" to your site with Yahoo Site ExplorerIf few in-links are shown, then this could well be the cause of any supplemental pages. After the Google Big Daddy update, Google became more reluctant to fully index websites with few inbound links (also referred to as in-links or backlinks) as rightly or wrongly they weren't deemed important enough. Where a homepage has Page Rank 1 or 2 sometimes only the homepage of a domain may be fully indexed with all other internal pages showing as Supplemental Results or not indexed at all (depending on internal navigation structure of the site). In extreme cases, where a website has few inbound links it may not even be listed in Google, even if is submitted for inclusion by the webmaster as Google generally only indexes sites by following hyperlinks from other Worldwide Web sites.

  • Duplicate Content -

    Supplemental Result pages can be the result of duplicate content or content which is too similar to pages which can be found elsewhere on the World Wide Web. Even web pages on the same website domain which are very similar to each other cause problems. Hence, getting out of Google Supplemental Results can require some content re-writing in some cases. Start by checking for duplicate content by using Copyscape. This free service can help find plagiarised or duplicate content on the web. Enter the URLs of your Supplemental Result pages into a Copyscape search window and check for plagiarised content on other web domains. If similar content is found, you'll need to correct the problem - either by contacting the webmaster of the site who has plagiarised your content or by re-writing your page/s to eliminate duplicate content. Google has got tougher on duplicate content and pages which have similar structure and content will often now be listed as Google Supplemental Results.

  • Too Much Content Similarity -

    Google Supplemental Results can also be caused by having the same HTML title and a similar META description on each web page, especially where there is a significant amount of duplicate content between pages, such as on an E-commerce site. This problem can often be made worse by excessively large website navigation systems duplicated on all web pages.

    One Supplemental Result example we saw used a pull-down form based navigation system which had hundreds of links to other web pages all individually listed. Each webpage was 125KB big, mostly made up from the identical website navigation code. This kind of website navigation system can "bury" the unique content of each page increasing similarity between web pages and making the problem of Supplemental Results much more likely. To get out of Supplemental Results, try to reduce duplicate content or too much similarity between pages.

  • Poor Website Navigation -

    Where most web pages on a particular domain show as Google Supplemental Results and they have unique content, check the Page Rank (PR) of the homepage. If the Google PR is less 3, then Google may only fully index the most prominent pages in the domain which are one click away from the homepage in the website navigation system.

    Often, the web pages which escape becoming supplemental results are those which are directly linked to from the homepage by means of a static hyperlink. Links from other fully indexed pages of your site to the supplemental pages will also help to get out of the Google Supplemental index.

  • Mod Rewrite Website Content -

    Care should be taken when doing a website mod rewrite to avoid getting into the Google Supplemental Results for the re-written pages. Mod rewrite encompasses changing website URL's and/or moving website o webpage content. A full definition of mod rewrite can be found at Wikipedia. Changing the URL's of existing, established website pages can cause search engine indexing problems if done improperly. Often search engines will see the new page URL's as duplicates of pages they already have in cache, leading to Supplemental Result issues on the modified or re-written pages. To avoid this, redirect the old web pages to their individual new URL's using a search engine friendly 301 re-direct. This can be set up in the form of a simple .HTACCESS file and works well on all but Microsoft hosted web servers.

  • Supplemental Results Google Video -

    Watch the Matt Cutts Supplemental Results Help Video (he's a Google engineer) for more helpful advice and tips on getting out of Supplemental Results.

  • Professional SEO Advice -

    If you need more professional help and advice on solving website Google indexing problems or to get out of the Supplemental Results, contact KSL Consulting for affordable, expert UK SEO consultancy. An SEO consultant will contact you without obligation and provide a low cost quote to carry out a comprehensive SEO audit of your website.

Getting Out of Google Supplemental Results

Getting out of the Google Supplemental Results may be possible by improving your website navigation system. To get more pages fully Google indexed, the prominence of important website pages can often be boosted by linking to them from pages within your domain having the highest Page Rank, such as your homepage. The reason for this being that Page Rank is passed from one page to another by links and the most common cause of Supplemental results is lack of Page Rank.

Start by determining your most important web pages which have been made supplemental - for example those promoting lucrative products and services, and then improve your website internal linking by adding links to these pages from more prominent fully Google indexed pages of your site including your homepage. At the same time, ensure that your website navigation system is search engine friendly using a website link analyser.

By improving website navigation and getting more inbound links from other Worldwide Web sites, you may be able to get more website pages fully Google indexed, solving the problem of partial Google indexing and Supplemental pages.

Where the Google Page Rank of your website homepage is PR4 or PR3, improving your website navigation system and in particular the prominence of internal pages may help to get out of supplemental results. This can be done by including static hyperlinks from the homepage to your 'problem supplemental result pages'.

However, where your homepage is PR3 or lower and you have a large website, internal navigation improvements alone may still not be enough when it comes to getting out of the Google Supplemental Results. At PR3 or lower, your homepage Page Rank is probably too low to pass on enough Page Rank to your internal pages to completely get out of Supplemental Results.

To fully solve the problem of partial Google indexing, get more one way links to your site from quality web directories and sites of a similar theme and wait patiently to become fully Google indexed. In addition, getting more quality one way links pointing to internal pages of your website (rather than just targeting your homepage) is another powerful way of boosting the ranking of those pages against specific keyword terms, and it will also assist in getting them out of supplemental results. This is often referred to as "deep linking".

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