Getting Out of Google’s Supplemental Result Cage

Understanding Google Supplemental Index
According to the Google Webmaster Help Center, supplementary result is a search result which is extracted from the Google’s supplementary index. These search results don’t usually appear on typical search results as Google believes that these pages are duplicates, orphaned or broken pages, hence the name supplementary index. However, we have seen a growing number of pages significant to a web site appear in supplementary results as well.

It’s easy to pinpoint URLs that fall into this index because each appearance in search results has a “Supplemental Result” label attached to it. They usually appear on “indented” results as a supplement to the main result. I sometimes think these listings are more of “related” than “less important” to the main results. While it’s easy to ID the supplementary results, it’s not so easy to pull them away into the main index. It is everyone’s aim to get pages indexed properly and regularly while avoid falling behind the supplementary result index. By avoiding the supplementary result index, pages can easily appear on search result without getting less attention from Google.

We need to find out first if any of our pages appear on supplementary results before we exercise the steps described below. SEO Roundtable noted about the tool to determine how many pages within a domain falls under supplementary index although I hardly see this one as an accurate means to measure the quantity of pages falling under that category.

Dealing with the Problem
Once we find that some pages have been classified within the supplementary index, we look at methods that enable them to appear (or reappear) on the main index. Theoretically, Google has various ways of determining whether a page should fall into main index or secondary index.

  1. PageRank score
  2. Duplicate content filter
  3. Intrasite page duplication
  4. Quality of backlinks

Therefore, in order to anticipate Google’s actions, the following items based on the points listed above must be done:

  • Obtain good quality links to pages.
  • Matt Cutts‘ conventional wisdom will tell us that getting links from prominent sites is the straightforward thing to do:

    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 that supports my belief that a lot of guys can contact me telling they can submit pages to gazillion sites won’t improve if the quality of these sites (directories, niche

    In a question to Mr Cutts in March 2006,

    Q: “Any new word on sites that were showing more supplemental results?”
    A: An additional crawling change to show more sites from those sites was checked in late last week, but it may still take a little bit of time (another few days) for that to show up in the index. I’ll keep an eye on sites that people have given as examples to see how those sites are showing up.

    Does he suggest a little more patience for webmasters whose pages appear on supplementary results? I think so. And by getting quality backlinks, the process could be expedited.

  • Make unique pages.
  • This is two-fold: 1) it is easier for search engines to distinguish one page from another; 2) search engines will have a better idea of what the page is about, and will obviously pick more contents (words, keywords, phrases) than on pages whose entries only have a couple of sentences.

    I believe it also helps to make sections of a site a little more distinctive of each other by customizing page titles and make unique content appear more prominently on the page. For commercial sites that feature pages with similar content, make them more distinctive by offering longer descriptions, customer feedback, industry news and anything related to the product.

Google supplemental index to me is not a major problem especially if the site’s main contents are indexed. This occurrence is best prevented by proper planning during the site’s building stage. But if the page exists for a long time, the formula could be:

Main Index = Make Pages Unique + Gather Reputable Links + Patience (Wait)