Tips For Getting Out of The Google Supplemental Results

Approximately 45 days into this blog launch, I am now faced with the challenge of getting out of Google’s supplemental index. I have to confess that the first month or so, the largest effort has been in creating (what I perceive to be) quality content around small business search engine optimization, search marketing, and Cape Cod related information and to that extent, traditional SEO efforts have taken a bit of a backseat. (The fact that I work full time at KoMarketing Associates, also seems to impact the extra activities as well :-)).

This post contains tips for getting out of Google’s supplemental index as soon as possible. To some extent, the information here is slanted to the use of WordPress blogging software, as this is what this blog is built on, but the majority of what is being discussed here can apply to any new site, facing Google’s alert mechanism for new content. Once I actually get out of the supplemental index, I’ll give more detailed instructions on the actual process and implementation of the tips provided. If you are looking for a less WordPress/Blog-specific recommendation article on getting out of the supplemental index, here is a good article from Tropical SEO on this issue, and almost all of my points below echo Andy Hagan’s recommendations (I want to emphasize “echo”, not copy).

What is the Supplemental Index?
I’m not going to talk much on the mechanism behind the supplemental index – a detailed answer is on Matt Cutts’ blog, but it’s a long read, so if just want a visual example, here’s my blog’s site indexing today in Google. The red boxes highlight where Google is telling me that the page listed is in their supplemental index (or the index that traditional searches would never see results from).

Screenshot of the search results for the query: “” on 3/8/2007
Screenshot of Google's index of pages

Not all of my pages are in the supplemental index, but enough are so that I want to take action on this issue immediately.

How To Get Out of The Supplemental Index
Here are my action items to take care of for removing pages of from Google’s supplemental index:

  • Unique Title Tags
    While WordPress traditionally uses blog posts, category and achive-based titles to automatically create this functionality, I’m going one step further and using a bit of PHP coding to check what page is being presented and expand the HTML title to a more search-relevant piece of information.
  • Unique Meta Descriptions
    WordPress defaults a traditional description across all pages of the blog, so you can either write your own code for implementing custom fields in the WordPress admin panel, or you can use a Plugin to do this for you. I uploaded the G-Loaded Add-Meta-Tag plugin for this purposes and am adding custom meta descriptions to all of my posts, categories and pages.
  • Unique Page Content on the Home Page
    Especially relevant if you are blogging and getting stuck in supplemental results, I am adding content that is unique to the home page on my blog. This can be tricky because most blog index pages just list the most recent posts and you need to do a bit of coding and stylesheet updating to make certain your content appears the way you want it. In addition, try to put information on your sidebar that is exclusive to the home page – a good idea among others from Aaron Wall on his post on recommendations for getting out of the supplemental index.
  • Use your Robots.txt File
    Vangogh wrote an interesting post on making certain that you use your robots.txt file to stop search engines from indexing your RSS feed, including trackback feeds, comments etc. I don’t know if I agree with that. I was considering excluding my monthly archives though, because they are essentially just duplication of the category pages, which I find more valuable from a content perspective.

    I am doing two things with the feed generation however:

    • I am blocking the indexing of feeds to esoteric pages that should not have feeds associated with them (such as the static pages of the site)
    • I am adjusting the RSS coding so that the mime-type = “application/rss+xml”. A good comment posted on SEO Egghead’s blog recently.

    In addition, I am using my Robots.txt file to restrict certain spiders and crawlers and filter out results that I know are getting listed and I do not want them to be listed (my oversight here). Google Webmaster Central recently has been posting articles on using the Robots.txt file and the Robots Meta Tag, which can be additionally beneficial, especially if you want a search engine to follow your content and external links, but not index a specific web page or feed.

  • Write Good Content and Get Good Links
    Obviously the most subjective and wide-open-to-discussion topic, but essentially the cornerstone to any quality SEO campaign, whether you are optimizing a blog or a commercial website.
    • The first step here is to creating better articles, providing more information and citing known sources of information you are discussing or writing about.
    • The second step is making sure you are contributing to the industry-related sources available to you online, understanding how to leverage the channels of online media today that can drive traffic and visibility to your website, and increasingly communicating to quality link building opportunities available to you.
    • Assuming that I indeed get out of the supplemental index, I’ll be sharing the ways that I leveraged from a link building perspective and (hopefully) be able pinpoint what my successes were and were not.

One Last Recommendation for Getting Out of the Supplemental Results
I am consistently trying to create a better user experience on this website, whether that be from a navigational perspective, visual perspective, or through the feedback I get from people on Cape Cod and in small business that I discuss the concept with, people I work with in search engine marketing and through the articles and blog posts I read both online and offline. I cannot directly correlate the user experience to Google’s supplemental index, but I do know that all of these SEO-related efforts listed above mean absolutely nothing if I can’t keep visitors on the page, engage the reader and create an experience online that brings value to my audience.

More to follow – stay tuned.


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