Supplemental Results, Paid Links, and Priorities Slightly Out Of Whack

I was hanging out over at Matt Cutts’ blog today, where the subject at hand was SEO Tip: Avoid Keyword Stuffing. The discussion centered around a site that was blatantly stuffing keywords on its pages, and happened to get banned by Google. The conversation turned, as conversation tend to do, to other penalties sites suffer, and how not all sites that were penalized actually deserved them.

My attention was caught by a comment by Aaron Pratt, of SEO Buzz Box, having to do with the penalty of Supplemental Pages:

Aaron Pratt Said,
July 25, 2007 @ 2:01 pm
Again, this is a extreme example, I want to learn about those who play by the rules and get all their pages thrown into the supplemental trash bin. That is as close to Google turning off the switch (a ban) on a webmaster as it gets.
Spammers do not make me laugh anymore, they get in the way of useful conversation about compliant webmastering.

Aaron Pratt Said,
July 25, 2007 @ 3:28 pm
Harith – Of course my is not in the bin, it is a bitchy SEO blog, it gets stupid links.

Yes, I am talking about another site.

Since this was directly in line with something I have been looking into lately, and on my mind a fair bit, I decided to reply to Aaron:

Michael VanDeMar Said,
July 25, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

Harith – Of course my is not in the bin, it is a bitchy SEO blog, it gets stupid links.
Yes, I am talking about another site.

Aaron, Supplementals aren’t really a penalty, they are due to a lack of PageRank getting to those pages. I just did a link: search on that site in Yahoo, and despite the initial semi-impressive numbers you might see, it only shows a total of 242 links when you page through them. This means that the rest of them are sitewides or near sitewides from the same domains that show in the initial 242. Except in certain instances, those extra links really won’t be worth much.

I randomly checked 15 of those links that did show, and of those, not one was cached in Google. Pages that are not cached, or are cached but are themselves in the Supplemental index, do not pass PageRank.

I ran a similar check on the deep links you have, and although the stats look better, with 734 results showing in the serps, I still only found 2 out of the 15 links that I checked as being cached in Google.

See, one of the things going on here, that apparently Matt and the rest of the team don’t grasp, is that:
a) Pages require a certain amount of PageRank to stay out of the supps
b) PageRank is a relative quantity… the more pages there are, the more links it takes to get PageRank
c) Therefore, the more pages factored into the equation, the harder it is to stay out of the supplementals
d) Currently, Google is completely inundated with millions and millions of pages of non-supplemental spam, making it almost impossible for honest websites to stay out of the supps.

Think I’m exaggerating? Here is what a quick search turned up (again, less than 5 minutes to find these examples):
[] 5,150 results
[] 7,540 results
[] 39,800 results
[] 54,000 results

In and of themselves, each only represents a few thousand pages… but they add up. Quick.

This issue necessitates buying links just to stay indexed in many cases… and the fact that Google chooses to focus on penalizing those who are buying links, instead of once and for all eliminating the root problem, shows just how out of whack their priorities are these days.

I decided it was probably a good idea to replicate the relevant portions of the discussion over here on Smackdown, just in case something happens to the comments, and so I could also show cached versions of the serps I was talking about, since Google tends to ban the embarrasing site results fairly quickly once they are discussed openly.

The cached serps:
[] (cached version) 5,150 results
[] (cached version) 7,540 results
[] (cached version) 39,800 results
[] (cached version) 54,000 results

2 thoughts on “Supplemental Results, Paid Links, and Priorities Slightly Out Of Whack”

  1. Pingback:
  2. Yes indeed, thanks for covering this, I can not argue with any of the points you make.


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