Saturday 14 July 2007

Supplemental Results

Supplemental Results


Supplemental Results in the Google index display URLs of web pages identified as relevant for the search query, but judged less important than others. The index of Google has been designed to sort results in its index based on many factors, which not only indicate whether a web page is on topic, but also its importance ( or weight ), based on referring links it gains over time.

Supplemental results are not indications of a penalty, and not necessarily are symptoms of any kind of problem with your web site. These pages are cached, sorted and ranked based on relevance just as normal results, and are displayed on search result pages.

Supplemental results also may be indicating a previous version of a resource, at a URL that is otherwise featured in the index as non-supplemental, may show a now deleted redirected URL ( in both cases with a copy of the recorded state of the web page in the cache, for up to a year ), or simply be caused by the URL being identified as redundant, but none the less relevant information for a certain query. Supplemental results may rank best for obscure search queries.

A URL being listed in the supplemental instead of the primary Index is not a final and irreversible decision, and may change over time, as the page the URL refers to gets more and more referring links on the web from more important pages. Also, should a page lose its significance and thus its inbound links, it may be moved from the primary Index to the supplemental.

Known issues


Case 1,
Supplemental results are perceived by many as a penalty due to the fact that these results display below the normal results. These URLs are not penalized, only judged to be lower of importance by the algorithm, based on the same factors that sort all results.

+ Resolution: Supplemental pages in most cases have a low PageRank ( 0 ), indicating the most common issue, which is that they do not have enough quality and on-topic inbound links. In other words, there are too few or no references from other trusted and important web sites for the page. In case you feel your pages carry unique, nowhere else to be found information, information presented in a unique way, or that they should be recognized by the Google index as so, it should be your priority, and should be of no problem to inform people of their existence. Also visitors to other parts of your web site will sometimes find a certain page to be interesting enough to link to directly, to mention it on the Internet on other pages, and thus add to its importance. A page once Supplemental will be featured as a normal result once it is perceived trusted and important. Please note that this in no way means that you should participate in link schemes, purchase links to trick the algorithm or apply spam like tactics, for they are quite unlikely to work due to the filters identifying such patterns. The emphasis should be on natural linking.


Case 2,
In case your information is unique, or presented in a unique way, and your page(s) are marked as Supplemental, the web site may use a navigation that renders the URLs in question to be perceived of too low importance. While a web site itself may be showing normal results in the index, if pages not too far from the domain root are already considered unimportant, the navigation is most likely directing the attention away from them, especially by the logic of Googlebot.

+ Resolution: Lay out the site navigation in a way that the same level pages are in fact perceived by Googlebot as same level. Be reasonable, as for the truly unique information is likely to be less than you'd like to think, and patterns of several thousands of pages with very low importance are sometimes examined closely for being spam or not. Try to set up navigation funnels that are easy to follow, categorize the information in a comprehensive way, and provide a navigation that emphasizes the importance of a page by its reachability. Again, be reasonable. Having too many links on a single page for the sake of bringing all of them to the same level will result in the opposite effect than intended. Read more on Website Navigation and PageRank.


Case 3,
The Supplemental index is seen as incomplete, and is in the same process of constant updating as the normal index. Certain pages of your competitors' may yet to be evaluated for being supplemental or not. In other words, a page on your site being marked as supplemental, while a similar page on another site is not, does not mean it will remain as so. The same parameters are judged for each URL, thus once most of the relevant pages are checked, the supplemental index will most likely be perceived as it's name would indicate, supplemental results from related, less significant pages.

+ Resolution: The supplemental index is being crawled and updated regularly, although not quite as often as the normal index. However in case a web page in either index is found more suited for the other, it will be updated as so.

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