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Meet MUM: Google’s new game-changing algorithm

Some updates to Google’s algorithm have a bigger impact than others. With the rollout of BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) in 2019, Google’s algorithms went from simply understanding words to being able to understand the context that the words were in. For example, think about how the meaning of the word “bank” differs in these sentences: I am going to the bank. / I am standing on the bank of the river. Thanks to the BERT algorithm, Google recognizes these nuances, and is able to provide search results that more closely align with the subject being searched for, providing the searcher with information that is more relevant.

This new Google algorithm will change the way that we search today.

Fast forward to 2021, and we’re in the early stages of a Google update that is going to have a much more transformative impact. Based on AI, the new technology is called MUM (Multitask Unified Model), and Google says it’s 1,000 times more powerful than BERT. According to Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow and Vice President, Search, this new algorithm will change the way that we search today: “In the future [with MUM], you’ll need fewer searches to get things done.”MUM was designed to ramp Google’s search capabilities up to the expert level.

Here’s the search query example Google uses to explain it: “I’ve hiked Mount Adams and I now want to hike Mount Fuji in the fall. What should I do differently to prepare?” Before MUM, it might take 10 queries to find the relevant information on what to type of clothes to wear, how to train, what hotels to stay in, etc. With MUM, all it takes is a single query.

Google MUM takes multi-tasking to unheralded levels.

It understands language, and it can generate language. (Actually it understands 75 different languages, and can translate knowledge across those languages, giving you access to all the information in those languages across the internet, no matter what language your original query is in.)

It is multimodal, meaning it understands and incorporates the information in text, images and video.

So what does this newest algorithm mean for marketers? Some industry experts are saying that it means the end of SEO as we know it. The truth is that while strategies that focus on keywords will become a lot less relevant, SEO isn’t going anywhere. With this new algorithm we can focus more on creating and optimizing rich content.

Here are some of the evolutions coming to SEO thanks to MUM

Zero click search will become the norm.

With MUM, Google search users will be served a results page filled with highly-relevant snippets of copy, along with images and video. They won’t need to click to a web page to find the specific fact they’re looking for, as MUM will have found it for them. Asking follow-up questions will result in more information delivered to the search page – with the result of keeping users on Google instead of clicking to other web pages. (in 2020, 65% of Google searches were zero-click. With the new MUM algorithm, this figure is sure to go even higher.)

The value of your content will be even more important.

With MUM, thin content will be penalized more than ever before. High-quality, informative and relevant content will be recognized and rewarded by the MUM algorithm. While it might not result in more clicks to your web page, it will result in snippets of your content being included in more search results.

Media-rich content will be recognized and ranked higher.

Because MUM is multimodal, it includes images and video in its searches – so it will be even more important to include images and video across your web pages and posts.

Your audiences will become more international.

If you weren’t marketing to other audiences and countries before, you will be now, whether those are your intended targets or not. A search for “the best Italian chef” might give you local results today, but once MUM is widely implemented you will likely be directed to top chefs in Italy, for example. And adding the content that is currently residing in 75 different languages across the internet means your content will be competing in a much bigger content pool.

Keyword stuffing will become obsolete.

With MUM, keyword stuffing is dead. It’s the same for thin content. The keyword tricks that boosted rankings in the past won’t work with the more sophisticated MUM algorithm. Instead, you will get higher rankings when your content speaks directly to your targets – when it’s valuable, relevant and engaging. With MUM, you will be less restricted to using keywords, and you can speak directly to your audiences with your content, instead of aligning with an algorithm.

If you’d like to learn more about creating B2B content that offers maximum value to you and to your audiences, we can help. Contact Anne-Mie, by email at anne-mie.vansteelant@livingstone.eu, or call at +32 (0)55 59 10 01.


References

  • Pandu Nayak, “MUM: A new AI milestone for understanding information,” May 18, 2021, Google. Retrieved from: https://blog.google/products/search/introducing-mum/
  • George Nguyen, “Zero-click Google searches rose to nearly 65% in 2020,” March 22, 2021, Search Engine Land. Retrieved from: https://searchengineland.com/zero-click-google-searches-rose-to-nearly-65-in-2020-347115

Anne-Mie Vansteelant
Anne-Mie Vansteelant
COO | Managing Partner at Living Stone

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