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Supplemental Index - What is it and How to Stay Out of It

Adrian Singer, 01-31-2007
In the words of Google, a supplemental result is any result that is pulled from the supplemental index. Pages in the supplemental index are not included in Google’s main index.

Depending on several factors, Google may decide to move some of your pages away from Google's main index and out to Google's supplemental index. This means these pages will have less visibility in the organic search results.

According to Matt Cutts, PageRank is the main determinant of which index a URL appears in. Although he says that you shouldn’t worry about being in the supplemental index, there is a general consensus among the web master community that it is not the best place to be. If you are having trouble getting out of the supplemental index (or want to make sure you never get stuck in it), here are a few tips to help you out:

* Unique meta and title tags-Take the time to give each one of your pages unique meta and title tags. Although similar pages on your web sites may have similar tags, try to make sure they are as unique as possible.

* Use a 301 Redirect - Not only will this help your PageRank, but it will also help you avoid any duplicate content issues.

* Get high quality links-Getting high quality, one-way links is the easiest way to increase your PageRank, which as Matt said, is the main determinant of whether or not you will be put into the supplemental index.

* Avoid pages with duplicate content-If your content is displayed on multiple pages within your site (such as the various categories and archives found on blogs), you may want to block some of these in the robots.txt file.

* Use CSS-If you clutter your (X)HTML with tables, there is a good chance that Googlebot may get lost along the way. By using CSS (and storing it in an external file), you can ensure that the Googlebot is only seeing exactly what it needs to be seeing.

As you can infer from above, the two main keys to avoiding the supplemental index are: unique content and quality inbound links!
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