Supplementals have been abolished
August 1st, 2007
In a case of
short term pain for long term gain long term pain for short term gain, everyones favorite search engine has abolished the supplemental index.
But before you go running around your office whooping with delight like I did this morning - STOP. Google hasn’t abolished the supps, they’ve just stopped telling us which pages are in supps.
What’s that mean to the average punter?
Well, it means less questions on the webmaster forums starting with ‘why are my pages all in the supplemental index’, and less time spent by ‘mom and pop’ sites worrying about it.
Possibly a good move.
Me, well, I’m skeptical about the move. The overriding stated aim of Google is to return quality results. I’ve seen plenty of quality pages in the supplemental index - google has stated repeatedly that the biggest reason for a page being in the supps is NOT a perceived lack of quality, but rather a lack of pagerank.
It’s nice to know they are there so that we can make an effort to bring them into the main index where they belong. Google should be adding MORE tools to help genuine webmasters assess how they can improve their index penetration, not less.
It’s a case of ‘need to know’ - Google now no longer reckons we ‘need to know’ which pages their algorithms consider unworthy of a place in the main index. My initial feeling about that move is that it seems a little paternalistic.
Google has eviscerated the ONLY tool that goes any way toward explaining why a page might be performing poorly.
My take? If they are going to stop tagging pages as supplemental they should just abolish the supplemental index altogether - if a page is being crawled but isn’t in the index, well, we know it sucks - so why lump it in with other results? Put differently, why show us pages in a site: search if they’re not going to rank anyway.
At the moment I’m leaning towards thinking this might have been a (short term) backwards step, although it wouldn’t surprise me if we see some new tools in the Google webmaster tools arsenal to help deal with this prob.
ADDENDUM:- Richard Hearne (www.redcardinal.ie) put it best recently on the google webmaster help forums -
“Of course Google would rather we didn’t discuss or even consider this supplemental index. Then again if Google was serious about fixing issues like these they would scrap the supplemental index… or give us back the supplemental tag so that we can try to fix these issues ourselves. “