What is Google’s Supplemental Index? In 2003, Google started a special, separate index of web pages (called the supplemental index) that it will query if it fails to find good matches within its main web index for particular sets of keywords. The new index is like the extra section added to the very end of a book to give additional information or to correct previous errors. Sites that appear in the supplemental index are usually for obscure or unusual queries. They are sites that Google doesn’t really trust but also doesn’t want to just throw away. It’s like being sentenced to the digital jail for web pages – not good. Web sites will be flagged as a "Supplemental Result" next to the URL and date that Google shows for the listing.

For example: if you were to Google "site:junkmails.org", you will see a list of supplemental results, vs Googling "News" which will show sites from the main search index.

The problem with the supplemental index is that once a site is listed as supplemental, the site will not rank very high for a particular search query because it takes a "back seat" to other sites in the main index. The other big problem with the supplemental index is that it becomes difficult to get a site out of the index. No one really knows how sites are categorized as supplemental or even how exactly to get a site out of the index: Google deems what sites are "unusual", "obscure", etc. and can place any web page that it wants to in this supplemental index, a little bit scary for anyone relying on web traffic to drive business.

Forbes has a nice little story on the index regarding "punished" or banned sites that fall into the "Google Hell" (Supplemental Index).

You can also check and see which pages of your site are in the Google Supplemental Index by Googling: "site:www.yoursite.com *** -view"

How do you keep your site from being indexed as supplemental? It is thought that Google indexes sites as "supplemental" when they are a duplicate or have near duplicate content as other (older) sites, pages that have little or no content and pages that used to have incoming links but no longer do. Here are a few good precautions to take for keeping your pages out of the supplemental index:

  • Your pages should have enough content: Very short/small blog posts and other very brief pages sometimes can end up in the supplemental index.
  • Make sure that your pages have enough unique content, from each other and from other pages on the Internet.
  • Make sure that no one is duplicating your pages elsewhere on the Internet. This is probably the number one cause of being supplemental. You can run a search on some of the unique phrases in your page to see if other pages may be similar.
  • Get more/better inbound links to your supplementally indexed pages. Place keywords that people search for in the anchor text of your new back links.

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