Back in the Over Optimization June 2 and ongoing June 2010 Updates threads there was a link to a report on Maile Ohye's Q&A Keynote
[toprankblog.com] at SES Toronto. One of the things she touched on was the Mayday update.
We tweak little things in our algorithm all the time. Mayday was a significant update that really impacted long tail terms. A lot of people were leveraging long tail phrases for lots of traffic but it was frequently done via automated methods. We’ve looked to eliminate spam, and that’s been a big priority for us. At the same time, there were people developing not quality content (not a violation of guidelines, but also not providing value). What it does is for long tail queries, is we now just consider them queries like anything else. We are going to put as much value in those search results as all search results.
Besides my inference that Mayday only affected long-term queries, one other thing stood out to me:
What it does is for long tail queries, is we now just consider them queries like anything else.
That raises the question, "How was Google treating long terms before Mayday?"
Maybe if we can answer this we might be able to suss out how long tails are being treated post-Mayday.
I don't have any real answers here; I'd like to get a discussion going so I'm just going to throw something out for starters.
How about this: The supplemental results never went away -- we just forgot about them?
We know that when supps were labeled that a heck of a lot long-term query SERPs were pulled from them. Then, because of a lot of confusion, Google decided to no longer label supplemental results. After just a short bit of time there was very, very little continuing discussion about them.
But that doesn't mean that Google wasn't still pulling long tails from the supplemental index.
So coming back to "we now just consider them queries like anything else," might mean that *all* queries are now answered only by pages in the main index.
It almost makes sense. But that's only one possibility. What's yours?