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Top 5 Lessons from the Death of Google Supplemental Results

Google Webmaster Blog announced yesterday that Google will soon eliminate the differences between how they search the main index and the supplemental index (results) for queries. Google maintains two separate indexes, the main index and the supplemental index. Until now, pages in the supplemental index had less opportunity to rank well for competitive phrases and usually only ranked well for long tail keyword searches. Thanks to new Google technology innovations, they appear to have overcome some of the limitations of their system. Which sounds like it will have a positive impact on overall search relevancy which is great. Personally I was a little disappointed to see the supplemental tag eliminated in search results. Only because it was a great indicator of potential problems for a new client. According to Google, the number one reason that pages go into supplemental results is because of low Page Rank. Which by the way underscores that Page Rank is not always as irrelevant as some people would have you believe. But that’s a conversation for a different day. I think the main thing to take away from the new development is, there is no longer a need to worry about supplemental results. But, some of the SEO related issues that used to trigger pages into supplemental results are still good things to avoid. Here is the list:

1) Always have a unique Page Title and Meta Description for EVERY page of the Web site.

2) Try to limit the number of dynamic parameters in your URL strings to three or less. I know Google will index more than that, but Google is not the only search engine and the others are less consistent. Additionally, the longer the URL, the less likely Google will always get it right.

3) ***IMPORTANT. LOL. Make sure you only have ONE distinct URL path to any page of content and your site and that you are consistent in the way you link to that page (file name versus folder name). Don’t use capital letters in your URL string. Often Webmasters will link to you with only lowercase letters because of their coding standards and you will have both the URL with the capital letters and the one without indexed in the engines. They are seen as separate pages by the search engines which can cause duplicate content issues and at best case will split your Page Rank.

4) Make sure you have your pages crossed linked in such a way that all relevant pages link to each other. Not only does this increase the usability of your site, but it increases the opportunity for deep level pages to get Page Rank. A page that is 8 levels deep in your site with only one inbound link is not likely to be seen as being very important.

5) Make sure the content on all your pages is unique. Pages with similar or the same content, whether they appear on your own site or a different Web site are actively filtered by Google. Google doesn’t want to show the same content 10 times for a specific keyword phrase. So in the past, the document they considered to be the original was included in the main index and the copies were indexed in the supplemental results. Thus the phrase “duplicate content penalty”. I am sure that a similar mechanism still exists because nothing has changed in Google not wanting to show similar results for the same query. So to make a long story short, make sure all your content is unique.

These 5 recommendations should be standard practice for anyone who wants to consistently rank well in Google.

Have a great Wednesday.