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August 2, 2007

Bruce Clay Inc. Sounds Off On Supplemental

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From the moment I walked into the office yesterday I knew Google had done something. Maybe it’s because I have a cosmic connection with Matt Cutts and the Goog, maybe it’s because I am unbelievably awesome, or perhaps it was because one of our SEO analysts came busting through my door shouting at me and ordering me to email "my friend Matt".

Hey, what did I do?

I did nothing, but just as they hinted they would, Google decided late Tuesday night that it was finally time to kill the supplemental search results label from its index. We had seen the move coming for awhile, but now it’s official. You’ve already heard Danny, Barry, and Google’s take on the move, so I thought it might be fun to round up a collection of Bruce Clay’s finest and see what they thought of the supplemental label’s recent disappearance.

Here’s what they had to say:

Mike Grehan, Vice President of International Business Development

From an SEO point of view, going forward, getting rid of (or not highlighting where a specific URL is indexed) is great for us. If clients see pages that we are responsible for, marked supplementary results, they immediately think we’re not achieving for them. It’s bad enough them complaining that they’re not “on the front page of Google” without having to explain why they’re not only not on the front page – they didn’t even make it out of Google’s rest room.

Now, hopefully, we can get back to a situation where you’re indexed but not ranked. And nothing worse (as in you’re indexed, don’t rank and actually, you’re in the toilet.)
However, regardless of the way they let this seep out of the Google webmaster blog and elsewhere with their vague explanations… One has to consider this. If the supplemental results supported underrepresented categories at times, post Universal they have tons of extra material. Far richer to fill a page with a mixture of Universal results than just primary and secondary web pages. Ergo, think gap soon to be filled by rich Universal results, not supplemental.

Aaron Landerkin, IT Manager/former Senior SEO Analyst

The fact that supplemental results will not be marked as such sucks if you are a person who wants as much information as possible, like me. I don’t like the fact that I can’t quickly evaluate how deeply a site is being spidered or if there are any pages that need to have the content/linking improved like I could before. While the lack of information is somewhat frustrating to me, I doubt it will change the way that we do projects or evaluate sites, and if it does, it won’t be that much.

In the end, it really isn’t that big of a deal. I think it will be more of an annoyance when clients ask “How many pages do I have in supplemental?” than anything else.
Additional Aaron thoughts: By not labeling them, they are taking away the distinction between a “good page” and a “not-so-good page”. It could be that they found that people wouldn’t click on supplemental results because they were “supplemental” — maybe they are trying to take away that distinction so that they can take away the perception that some results aren’t as good as other ones.

Fernando Chavez, Senior SEO Analyst

"I don’t think this change does anything except make the SEO’s job more of a pain. It does not change the fact that these pages have very little link popularity and have little to no SEO value. Some people may argue that this change will be a positive because then clients will not worry about their pages being in the Supplemental Index. The problem is that we should worry about it. Personally, I’d rather be able to show clients their Supplemental pages and explain to them why it’s a problem and how we will try to fix it. Good communication is extremely important in these cases because the odds are that sites with a large number of Supplemental Results are not going to rank very well, at least not until these pages have moved into Google’s Primary Index. Nothing frustrates a client more than not ranking well without an explanation of why. This explanation is much quicker and clearer if we can simply do a site command to point out the problem pages.

Most Google search results will not be affected at all by this change because the pages that used to be labeled Supplemental Result will still have very little chance of ranking for any competitive phrases. They will still have all the characteristics of a "Supplemental Result"; they just won’t be labeled as such. Again, the change simply makes "Supplemental" pages harder to identify for SEOs, webmasters, and site owners. I hope that some way to find a site’s Supplemental pages will be added to Google’s Webmaster Tools very soon."

So do we, Fernando. So, Matt, can we expect a new feature to the Google Webmaster Tools sometime soon? What do you think?

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3 responses to “Bruce Clay Inc. Sounds Off On Supplemental”

  1. Barry Schwartz writes:

    Who cares about Mike, Aaron or Fernando’s thoughts on this. ;-)

    Lisa, what do you think?

  2. Lisa writes:

    Please, since when has anyone ever come to this blog to hear what /I/ think? :)

  3. Robert Gorell writes:

    I do!

    (sigh)

    Hell, even when I disagree with you, Lisa, the writing’s top-notch.

    Loved your Jason Calacanis Facebook post… Priceless.



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