AI algorithms are constantly advancing, and MUM is the latest language model created and rolled out by Google to improve the quality of search results.
After all, mum always knows best, right?
What is MUM?
MUM is an abbreviation of Google’s Multitask Unified Model, an advanced language model which is designed to answer complex user queries. The MUM update began to roll out last year (June 2021) and means that Google can better understand search intent as it can read text, interpret its meaning, gain deep insight into the topic and display its findings through multi-layered content - answering the query all in one-go! In fact, according to Google, MUM is a thousand times more powerful than its predecessor, BERT (the previous language processing model used by Google which rolled out in 2019).
Essentially, MUM reduces the need for a user to make multiple searches in order to find the results they need. This is because it presents them with visual content such as images and videos as well as podcasts and textual content. It does this in a way we’ve not seen before. With the ability to translate 75 languages and interpret information on a global scale, MUM is a force to be reckoned with and provides the most advanced results we’ve ever seen.
Below is an example of MUM in action, answering a more complex question:
GIF from Google
As you can see, Google understands (through its analysis of stored data) that there are a multitude of ways to prepare for a hike - it’s not just about fitness training, but what routes the user could take or what gear could aid them on their journey. Previously, a user may have needed to make a number of searches around the subject to find the best results, whereas MUM minimises this need by presenting multiple answers at one time.
Equally, a user will be able to add an image to their search if they have a query related to it. For example, you might take a picture of a pair of shoes using Google Lens and ask whether it would be the right footwear for a hike. Google may also provide you with related articles and content around the subject to support the answer supplied, ensuring you have the right information. In other words, you’d discover that hiking boots will be a better option for rough terrains compared to your trendy sock and sandal combo - a classic, but not practical.
So, how will MUM affect SEO?
Here I’ve listed some of the ways MUM can now impact SEO and how it’s changing the search game…
Content can reach a much wider audience
Thanks to the fact that MUM can interpret 75 different languages, content on websites such as articles written in a country’s native language will be able to be translated and presented to users living in other areas of the world. This helps to extend a brand’s reach and branch out to new audiences.
Search results will be richer with multi-modal content
Now that images, videos and podcasts can be analysed and understood in depth by Google’s search engine, the search results can contain a wider range of relevant content to help answer the user’s query. Gone are the days where you make a search and have to sift through textual content in the hopes of finding what you need; you’ll be gifted with a variety of results which Google has deemed to be the most useful. For example, if you search ‘How to flip a pancake’ you’ll be presented with step-by-step instructions, images, recipes, tips on cooking pancakes and videos of people demonstrating how to flip them like a pro.
Google may look beyond keywords
As MUM is highly intelligent and able to better interpret online content and a user’s language, keywords may play a smaller role when it comes to creating content. This is because Google will be able to understand a page and the information on it as a whole (rather than looking for the exact keywords used in the search). Therefore, keywords may simply become a less pivotal part of an SEO strategy and SEO specialists will need to pay more attention to search intent.
A decrease in clicks?
If MUM provides such a detailed array of search results, there’s cause for concern surrounding whether users will click on them. If users get what they need, why should they? However, MUM is not designed to be a new answering system. Whilst users will be given more options, it’s likely they’ll still need to click on the result - especially if it’s a more complex query which MUM is designed to solve. That said, there has been an increase in rich results with quick answers, which could impact the click-through rate. With this in mind, SERP features such as featured snippets and the ‘People Also Ask’ section already existed as ‘answer-machine’ style elements of the SERP. So, perhaps we shouldn’t lose sleep over a potential plunging of clicks just yet.
Content designed more for users
SEOs write content designed for users (or, at least, they should) but also optimise this content to suit search engine’s algorithms. There will undoubtedly be SEO’s who focus more on writing for algorithms, but as MUM becomes more advanced at understanding natural language, the shift is going to have to focus more on the user (and, rightly so!). This is a change which I believe will lead to improved content which provides a better user experience.
You can find out more about how to make SEO friendly content here.
Google’s MUM update has enriched the SERP landscape, giving users a better search experience. That said, the algorithm update means that SEOs may need to adopt new strategies and tactics to ensure that the techniques they apply to optimise a site will be successful.
But what can be done to ensure that your site is visible to online users? Well, as mentioned, you’re going to need to create high-quality content which is designed around user intent. Google is a smart cookie and it is now better able to understand natural language.
Secondly, you can also look to add schema to your product and service pages, as this will help search engines understand the purpose of your pages and your offerings. The clearer you make the relevance of your content to Google, the better your chances of reaching the top spots on the SERP for related keywords will be.
Moreover, you should conduct technical SEO checks and maintain good site performance (improving your Core Web Vitals score so that you provide a great user experience to all site visitors). Finally, having a good E-A-T (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness) score will still be very important, so don’t compromise on the quality of your backlinks and continue to look to improve your search quality rating.
Find out more about what you should focus on in 2022 to improve your SEO strategy.
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