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I say let Google deal with your honest pages however they choose. Removing 1200 out of 1280 from the index is quite extreme, and I would not advise it. So what if Google chooses, for now, to put the bulk of them in the side cupboard and only haul them out for special occasions? Let them have access to the whole site so that as you grow, they can fold more pages into the main index, at whatever pace they see fit.
I know of PR4 pages that were marked as Supplemental. Still, there's no way I'm going to remove those urls. All it means is that the site should continue to grow the business. And, yes, removing 95% of all your urls from the Google index might well hurt you. There is a kind of PR circulation that occurs internally - and having many unique pages in the index only helps that.
Supplemental Results were tagged in green letters, not "Scarlet Letters" like the mark of some awful sin.
...the title and image are different but the descriptions are the same.
So, in addition to getting more links over time, you also need to make sure each url has a unique description. Tht alone won't do it, but it will help.
I was under the impression that duplicate content was only a small part of the "supplemental" algorithm/tagging?
About the only thing somewhat semi-official that we know about the supplemental index was from Matt Cutts Big Daddy update post where he mentioned links being a factor. I think the dupe content talk started as speculation, but has been repeated so very often -- without any basis as far as I can see -- that it's become accepted among some folks.
It's far from extreme if 1200 pages of his site are near-duplicate stub pages with little content. Ideally, I would say write unique descriptions for those pages, but what if you don't have the time?
If you got paper thin stub pages with weak backlinks (assume since they're supplemental) they will not rank anyway.
Another option is to build more backlinks. With a TBPR 5~6 home page (assuming that's where most of your IBL/internal links point at) you can probably get a good percentage of 1280 pages in the main index. 80 pages out of 1280 in the main index sounds to me like a site with a TBPR 3-4 home page? Just be careful not to leave obvious footprints when building artificial links, else PageRanks flowing into your site may get devalued.
Duplicate text, btw, has nothing to do with supplemental results. Several Googlers has repeated that time after time.
Other non-PageRank-related factors confirmed by Google are page staleness and URL complexity. I'm sure there are other minor factors Google hasn't bothered to mention yet.
Shedding pages means higher PageRank for the remainder of your site and at the end of the day less pages in the supplemental index. I wouldn't worry about every supplemental page, but IMO its important to structure your site so that at least your key landing pages aren't supplemental.
[edited by: Halfdeck at 9:17 pm (utc) on Aug. 4, 2007]
they are describing the exact same products (t shirts).
I think the solution to this kind of problem lies in site architecture rather than in noindex.
Eg, if the variants for any different t-shirt style are merely different colors, have one core page for your style and then the pages for different color branching off of this core page only... maybe linking back only to the site home, the core page, and to other colors within the style.
This is top of my head, without seeing your site. It may also be that you simply have too many pages, that you can consolidate some of your subtle variants and actually help your site.