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Google’s MUM Update: An SEO Revolution

Google’s MUM Update: An SEO Revolution

In June 2021, Google unveiled its latest technology, MUM, which many experts say will revolutionize the search engine and significantly change how digital marketing is done.

Google’s daily algorithm changes aim to refine search results, minimize spam, and boost site credibility. Some digital marketing professionals, though, dread these frequent core changes, as they can affect previously implemented optimization work. Fortunately, Google’s MUM update builds on existing SEO tactics that make it easier for people to interact with a website, such as page load time and visual stability.

Our Edmonton-based internet marketing company helps businesses create effective SEO strategies that increase visibility and improve overall search rankings. Contact Smart WSI Marketing today to learn how our agency can assist you in navigating and leveraging all the changes to come with Google MUM.

What is Google MUM?

Short for “Multitask Uniform Model,” Google’s MUM update is a multimodal algorithm that provides answers to complex queries by simultaneously assessing information across multi-language text, images, video, and audio. Put more simply, AI-generated MUM analyzes and generates content more in line with how a human would. It’s a thousand times more powerful than the previous BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) algorithm, addressing many of the complex search queries users make daily.

How does Google MUM change search? The new update’s announced features appear to point towards it being an advanced recommendation system that, among other things, removes language barriers and allows for larger search images.

Google’s MUM Update: Getting Things Done

Google says it takes people about eight searches to cobble together a satisfying answer to a complex query. MUM is designed to help users get the answer with fewer searches. For instance, before MUM, if someone typed into the search bar, “I surfed Oahu’s Pipeline this summer and next year I want to try Hossegor in France, what do I need to know?” they’d typically have to perform different searches for each topic:

  • What’s the difference between Oahu’s Pipeline and Hossegor?
  • Hossegor surfing.
  • How to prepare for surfing at Hossegor.
  • … and so on.

MUM was created to answer complex questions in one click.

How Google’s MUM Update Changes Search

While more are sure to follow, most of MUM’s announced features make it clear the update is intended to be an advanced recommendation system. Some of those features include:

Language Barrier Removal

Language is often a significant hurdle when accessing information. Google MUM can potentially clear this obstacle by translating knowledge or information into multiple languages. For instance, if the best sites on Hossegor surfing are in French, they would typically only appear in French language searches. MUM gives that valuable information to native English speakers, too, as the algorithm automatically transfers it across the two languages. Suddenly, people outside a website’s country of origin have access to all types of information, including restaurants and places to stay that generally only locals could find.

Advanced Google Lens Search Options

When Google Lens launched back in late 2017, it quickly became a popular feature for millions of Android and Google Pixel users. Today, iPhone and iPad users can also use the app to scan objects, ask for more information on those objects, and get suggestions for similar items.

MUM takes it a step further and hopes to get users to do more than identify flowers or search for apparel and instead use Lens to ask questions and shop. Google gives an instructive use example of this on its site. Many people, it says, don’t know what many of the parts on their bicycle are called, but if something breaks, Lens will help you identify the part and then let you ask questions about fixing it yourself, direct you to YouTube videos, help you order the new part, or find a local bike repair shop, all from the initial search.

Advanced Video Analysis

MUM is designed to help Google analyze and understand videos more thoroughly, identifying subjects or themes related to different sections of the video. Google will then use the algorithm’s recommendations to offer users more personalized suggestions on what they might want to read, watch, or consume after watching the video.

Reduction in 10 Blue Links

In the online marketing world, the term “10 blue links” refers to the traditional format of presenting search results. Google’s MUM update changes how people view ranking and reduces the visual relevance of 10 blue link entries.

With MUM, 10 blue links are still present in SERP (search engine results pages), but they’re no longer the main attraction. Instead, MUM lessens the importance of conventional search results even further, with the upper part of SERPs becoming much more engaging. As a result, people will now be able to discover and learn more about a topic or item than they ever would have before with just one search.

Changes in SERP Positions and Rankings

As Google moves away from showing ten similar pages in a given SERP, it will come to rely more on a cross-media SERP instead. What this means for internet marketing efforts is businesses won’t necessarily be competing with others for the same SERP position, as their content will differ from that of the competition. Instead of ranking in the first, second, or third position, an SERP will either feature a business’s site or not, so the focus should be on getting highlighted in one of the special features at the top of the SERP.

MUM will create significant changes in a business’s overall marketing strategy, including in the concept of ranking for a particular SERP position. Early indications are it will emphasize the context of a given query more. This means that while two people could search for the same thing, there’s a good chance they’ll see two different sets of search results based on factors like previous searches, the user’s location, and where they are in the buyer’s journey. While this digital marketing strategy isn’t particularly new, MUM will make it much more pronounced.

More Recommendations

MUM includes a new SERP feature called “Things to Know (TTK),” which is essentially an advanced recommendation system like its complementary “People Also Ask” (PAA) feature. The most significant difference between the two features is that PAA typically only takes users one or two steps further in their search, while TTK is designed to take them even farther. Another feature, “Broaden/Refine This Search,” offers more directions for further queries.

So, how will MUM’s features affect users?

  • Topic zooming will allow them to seamlessly jump in and out of topics related to their searches.
  • Search silos will be eliminated as language barriers are dropped.
  • A mix of formats, including text, images, video, and even audio, will deliver more nuanced answers to complex questions.

Why MUM Matters to Digital Marketing

Keywords and SEO-rich content have long been crucial in how information is served and how it matches intent. In recent years, subtle changes have made the process more phrase-friendly, finding keywords used in a more natural context. The MUM update takes search results to another level, using NLP and in-depth knowledge to provide nuanced answers to questions.

In essence, MUM interprets the meaning of a search in a more user-friendly way and offers people the most comprehensive search engine capability to date. This matters greatly in a world where consumers want relevant, detailed, and accurate answers to their queries in seconds, anywhere, anytime, and on whatever device they prefer.

What You Need to Do

Every new Google update claims to be the best. Before MUM, that title was rightly held by BERT, which launched in 2019. It was around this time that key phrases began to take over from keywords and sought to provide results based on user intent. MUM takes BERT one step further, replacing its ability to answer common questions with a system that can handle more complex queries.

While MUM might not always know best, it will undoubtedly change the face of search and SEO as we know it today. Here’s what businesses need to do to adapt.

  • Create high-quality content that’s still focused but is also open to the possibilities that tangential linking can bring to the table. Content should answer questions, provide the optimal level of added value, and include appropriate use of multimedia formats so MUM takes notice. Written content like articles and blog posts will remain critical players in attracting attention, but they will likely need to be supplemented with images, podcasts, audio, and video content.
  • A multi-lingual SEO strategy could dramatically affect the regional power of content. To compete on a global scale, businesses should use it to their advantage and ramp up local relevance, specifics, and neighborhood interests both visually and verbally.
  • Good content has always been key to building brand awareness and loyalty. That doesn’t change with MUM. Businesses should, though, add structured data to their website’s pages to give clues about the content. They must also be mindful that the Google MUM update is an AI-centric update and will learn as it goes.

MUM Will Revolutionize, Not Kill the Search Engine

As a long-time digital marketing agency, we know that while Google MUM will contribute to broader search answers, there will always be users who know precisely who to rely on for trusted content. As long as your website and other internet marketing efforts continue to be reliable sources of information, you will most likely retain your current audience.

Smart WSI Marketing is an Edmonton digital marketing agency skilled in adapting to every Google update. To learn more about Google’s MUM update or to talk to us about getting the most out of all your online marketing strategies, contact us today.

Lynne team member
Lynne Motkoski, Marketing Strategist
Specialty: Online Marketing Strategies
Education: MA Communications & Technology, BComm [U Alberta]
Author: The Online Marketing Handbook for Busy Entrepreneurs (coming soon)

Lynne is known for her strategic approach to marketing communications, technologies, and lead generation. She has a passion for education, keeping up with current marketing trends and practices, and helping clients keep ahead of their competition.


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