Understanding Directory Supplemental Results

Reading comments and posts across a variety of webmaster forums I’m intrigued by what I’ll call a misunderstanding of Supplemental results for a web directory.

You see posts from directory owners inviting comparisons of the number of Supplemental results or the percentage of pages labeled Supplemental. You’ll also see posts stating that some web directories have more pages in the Supplemental index than they have cached and indexed in the main index.

I find that it’s difficult to make a sound assessment of a web directory based solely on the number of results returned when querying Google for Supplemental pages. The number of results returned can be deceiving, and through a simple misunderstanding it’s easy to get the impression that it may not be worthwhile to have a listing in such a directory or that the directory owner is just not doing a good job.

I’m sure that we’re well versed on what a Supplemental page is, and also that these pages are likely to receive little if any traffic due to the limited exposure they’ll receive.

Before condemning a web directory because of the number of Supplemental pages, it’s a good idea to review the results and better understand why Google is returning those pages as Supplemental.

PHPLD is a popular script that many are using and some of the features of the script contribute directly to?the number of Supplemental pages.

Features such as RSS feeds, sorting options, pagination and submission options contribute to duplicate pages and Supplemental results.

For example the option for users to sort the listings alphabetically, by the number of hits, or by PageRank give GoogleBot a number of pages and URLs that are similar, so it’s not uncommon to see URLs appended with variables such as ?s=H&p=1 or ?s=H&p=26 in the Supplemental index. We strongly recommend adding “nofollow” to the various options.

The submit a site links in each category also append the URL with the category ID number by default, and as such, contribute to an increased Supplemental count. Utilizing the RSS feeds option can be a contributing factor as well.

It’s not uncommon for directory owners to change their category structure, file names or utilize mod rewrite for search engine friendly URLs after many pages are already indexed. So pages that really no longer exist can be relegated to the Supplemental index as well as URLs that appear to be created on the fly while GoogleBot is crawling a web directory. I’m amazed to see some pretty wild non-existent URLs indexed. It takes some time for these pages to drop out of the Supplemental index, but we’ve noticed that they can, and do go away with time.

I think it’s important to review the results returned before passing judgement, there are some directories that do have large numbers of real Supplemental pages. But for the most part, we’re seeing inflated numbers of supplemental pages overall.

We recommend that you take a closer look with a better understanding so that you don’t short change yourself by passing up on a quality web directory because of Google’s inflated numbers.

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