The Google MUM Update is Big News for Search

The Google MUM update went live this month, bringing with it a host of new capabilities to better understand content and search intent – and deliver results accordingly. MUM, which stands for Multitask Unified Model, is the latest AI technology deployed by Google and is 1000x more powerful than the BERT algorithm update back in 2019.

Here’s what to expect from MUM in the coming months and years:

  • Increased formats. As one of the major highlights of this Google Search update, MUM enables the search engine to better understand not only written text but also video, image, and audio content. It also unlocks the information in documents like HTML, PDF, and TXT, which have been historically difficult in terms of gaining search visibility. If you’re a site with lots of PDF content, for example, this new technology alleviates the pressure of converting PDFs for the sake of SEO performance. Similarly, if you host podcast content on your site, you may find it served in search results more frequently as Google better interprets and understands it.

  • Multiple languages. In addition to more formats, the Google MUM update enables the search engine to understand content in 75 languages – and translate information from other languages to make it accessible in the user’s language. This means if you have users in various parts of the world, you may get to a point where you no longer need to provide translations. Using the new AI technology, Google does the work for you.

  • Conversational search. As part of the MUM rollout this month, Google will be increasingly able to reply to search queries in a more conversational manner. Searchmetrics put together a brilliant example of this:

    • User: When was Thomas Müller born?

    • Google: What Thomas Müller do you mean?

    • User: No idea. Can you show me pictures?

    • Google: Here are images of three different Thomas Müllers

    • User: I mean the one in the middle

    • Google: The footballer?

    • User: Yes

    • Google: According to Wikipedia, Thomas Müller, German football player, was born on 13.9.1989

    • User: Thanks. What outstanding achievements did he have?

    • Google: His goal against …. in … impressed many people.

    • User: I’d like to see that

    • Google: I found this match on YouTube. Should I fast forward to the goal?

    • User: Yes, please

    • Google then opens YouTube video and starts at 77:30 mins

    • User: There was an English player that scored a similar goal

    • Google: In 2010 …. from …. scored a similar goal against ….

What This Means for SEO, Businesses, and Users

Google’s MUM won’t change anything for SEO best practices. Optimizing high-quality page content with the user experience in mind remains the top priority. Businesses should be aware, however, that this update means increased competition in search results – as more formats and languages are considered. Users can expect to be served answers that match their search intent but that also may not even contain the search query keywords at all, especially as Google pursues the conversational search experience.

How do you foresee MUM impacting your search experience as a marketer or business? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, if you’re curious how this update could influence your search rankings, get in touch with us.

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