Last night, Google announced that they have done away with the "supplemental results" label from the search results within Google.com.
What this means is that Google will no longer label results with a "Supplemental Results" tag in the search results. What did that look like?
Here is a screen shot I took from my post named Confusion Over Google's Supplemental Index in November 2006:
That boxed in "Supplemental Results" tag is no longer go to show up.
As Danny explained in his Google Dumps The Supplemental Results Label, Google first introduced the Supplemental Index in September 2003 "to index more pages from the web but not get bogged down actually searching through those billions and billions of them unless necessary." But the thing is, Google got bogged down by SEOs and Webmasters 'bugging out' about their pages being in the supplemental index.
Typically, pages found within the supplemental index were not as important as pages not found in Google's supplemental index. By important I mean, popular in terms of PageRank and links to that page. SEOs used the supplemental index label to learn what corrective action can be taken to improve a page's popularity in Google. If a page was in the supplemental index, that page needed more links and attention.
Currently, the new way to find supplemental results in Google by using a site:www.domain.com/& no longer works for me, on the data center I am hitting. I honestly suspect Google will give us a tool in Webmaster Central to detect which pages are suffering from a low popularity score either by showing webmasters the pages that are in the supplemental index or by just labeling which pages can use a boost from some links. This was one of the items in the webmaster central tools poll Matt Cutts held, so I hope they give SEOs and Webmasters more insight into this at least through GWT.
This change from Google comes to no surprise to me and many other webmasters. In fact, last week I wrote Is Google Gearing Up To Drop The Supplemental Result Label? at Search Engine Land. I was a bit shocked to learn early this week that Google is going to go forward with this change so soon. And they did!
As expected, the reaction is both positive and negative. On one hand, Google promised to show "more Supplemental Results by ensuring that every query is able to search the supplemental index" by this summer. So even if your pages are in the supplemental index, Google promised to give those pages more prominence in the search results.
Does that mean Google will do so? We do not know. That is the other side of the reaction towards this change. Webmasters and SEOs feel Google silenced them by simply hiding information from us. In fact, they feel that pages in the supplemental index will not only continue to always do poorly in the search results, but now they won't have a valuable tool to help fix the issues with these pages.
Honestly, I think the best move for Google is to add a Supplemental Index tool to Google Webmaster Central. This is a great compromise. Webmasters can quickly check what problems they have with their pages and implement changes. Google can also not show the supplemental index in the results and save some of a headache explaining what is it.