Google's Supplemental Index Announcement Drives More Confusion

Dec 20, 2007 • 7:44 am | comments (10) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

The Ultimate Fate of Supplemental Results from the Google Webmaster Central blog announces, what Google calls, the "next major milestone" for Google's supplemental results. What is happening exactly? Google is implying that when you conduct a search in, Google will not just search their main index, but also search the "supplemental index" to return results from both indexes, dare I say it, equally. Or at least, that is how I understand it.

Did webmasters notice anything? Yes! We covered what Webmasters were noticing yesterday with Is Google's Supplemental Index Increasing? This was before Google announced anything, so something was up and yes, it was noticeable. How noticeable? Hard to say since a drop in rankings can come from a ton of different areas and since Google hides which results are supplemental, it is almost impossible for us to determine if a supplemental results is outranking a non-supplemental result.

Reading through to large forum threads, one from WebmasterWorld and the other from Google Groups, it is painful. There is so much confusion over the supplemental results, probably even more than what we had over a year ago, which, in my opinion, is very sad.

Hiding the supplemental index was a solution? I guess not. Does telling webmasters Google now searches both the supplemental index and the main index clarify anything? Nah. How is that working exactly? Is one index better than the other? I would assume so? I assume it only impacts very long tail queries. Google does offer some hints with this:

From a user perspective, this means that you'll be seeing more relevant documents and a much deeper slice of the web, especially for non-English queries. For webmasters, this means that good-quality pages that were less visible in our index are more likely to come up for queries.

Non-english queries, hmm... From the webmaster comment, you would think your less visible but quality pages that are non-English are more likely to come up? Why would a "good-quality page" be in the supplemental index in the first place? A linkage issue? Freshness?

I'll call Google out on this one, and I rarely do.

Google, we need you to stop hiding this index from us. We really need an explanation of what this index does, why a page would be placed in the supplemental index. When Google actually searches it? In what examples would a page in the supplemental index rank better than a page in the main index?

The confusion over the supplemental index has gone on too long.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Google Groups.

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