Supplemental Results no More

Google supplemental results are no more. Google announced on its Webmaster Central Blog 20/12/07- The ultimate fate of supplemental results, that they are now searching the whole index for each query. There used to be a separate "supplemental index" and a tag on results that a particular page was in the supplemental index. Initially the index was renewed less often than the main index. It was a sign that you had done things bad for your website.
  • Low Google PR on your pages
  • duplicate content
  • multiple url's per page
  • bad use of titles/meta descriptions etc
  • that you had not SEO'ed your website properly

Now Google has said that the previous supplemental index is part of the main index, and that the whole main index is being scanned for each query. It says that is has been a "truly amazing technical feat", and that "serving this much larger of an index doesn't happen easily".

However, I take anything that Google says with a grain of salt. What has actually been happening is far scarier than supplemental results ever were. Rather than pages going into the supplemental index, we are finding that many pages are not being indexed at all. Duplicate content is also at times being cached, but not shown on results. This seems to be part of the "truly amazing feat" that they are talking about.

Where pages are little different from other pages, many are not being cached, or often not returned in the results even when cached. For instance, if you have a page advertising a product, but only have a small number of unique words on that page, as compared to the words on the template (header/footer/menus), the page is unlikely to be indexed. Another example would be a photo album. Multiple pages each with little more than a photo on them. Without a reasonable amount of unique text on the page, the page is unlikely to be indexed, or if indexed, not shown on the results.

Where there are two domains pointing to the same hosting space, two domains showing the same content, only one domain is likely to have the home page cached. There will be a random number of pages cached for each domain, with one domain having far less pages cached for it.

Where there are two pages on different domains of exactly the same or similar content, it is likely that only one will be cached - for example article websites, and product descriptions from manufacturers duplicated on multiple retail stores websites. Please also see my "duplicate content experiment", where I copied a SearchMasters article word for word onto another website. Through the process, Google decached the SearchMasters page for a time, even though even that article had more PR than the home page of the site that copied it.

Google is caching pages, but not showing them in the results when that content is considered duplicate. I have just had a real life example of how to kick a website out of Google. A clients traffic totally drying up when their home page was copied by two sites. One site was a wap site that had all the text of the home page with the formating stripped out, but head tags intact. Another had multiple home-pages listed on a page, with a div that showed the plain text of each home page (style stripped). All the searches that my client was ranking for disappeared, and traffic totally dried up - surviving on Adwords. I have now changed the text on the homepage, the wap sites page is still cached but the url does not show any content, and the other webmaster has removed the content from their site. I have also submitted a google reinclusion request.

However, we are still waiting for Google to recache the clients page, and so have it different from the caches it has for the two sites that copied it. Very expensive for the client.

With all the "truly amazing technical feats" of the Google search engineers, why is a clients site able to be ditched from the search results with other sites copying it!!!! Google Collateral damage is alive and well.

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