As always, Google continues to improve and adapt, focusing on giving users the best possible experience with the most responsive and focused answers. And the newest system they are introducing just might turn the SEO world upside down.
From the very beginning, Google’s search engine was supposed to mimic a person asking another person a question and receiving a proper answer.
MUM is the newest iteration of this system, supposed to be even closer to a human Q&A interaction.
The article below will go into detail on this new model, how it will influence future SEO practices, and what you can do to maximize your results.
BERT and MUM
Somewhere in 2019, BERT was launched. An acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformers (quite a mouthful), BERT pushed search algorithms to focus on user intent more than before.
Keywords morphed slowly into key phrases, allowing for better answers to difficult questions. MUM knows best, and she’s taking over.
The New Multitask Unified Model Explained
The MUM (multitask unified model) update uses an AI-based algorithm that is supposed to provide better, salient answers to more complex search queries.
Whenever a user poses a query, they are provided with multiple answers. The quality of these answers can vary since it’s mostly influenced by geographic and language barriers.
Google claims that MUM will be a thousand times more powerful than BERT, the previous search model, circumventing the above barriers, and providing better information.
What makes it so powerful is that it can analyze video, images, and podcasts, then gather this information, all in seventy-five languages.
In a practical sense, it allows you to look for any information on a global scale, it ignores language barriers, all in order to give you the best information available.
To give you an example:
You want to get information on an art gallery in Hungary, in Budapest. The artist is pretty obscure, her name isn’t showing up properly thanks to its unique spelling, and you just can’t find proper information.
What MUM will do is actually find a local Budapest-based website, translate this information, and give you real data.
It can also help a non-English speaking user find their bearings better on their trip to the UK. And, of course, all of this is being done in a second.
When Will MUM Launch?
Short answers – still unknown.
MUM is still in its early stages, most likely being beta-tested at the moment. That’s pretty good news for any SEO specialist since they’re going to have months, maybe even years, to implement proper changes and get ready.
Is MUM the End of SEO?
Probably not. It seems people have been announcing the death of SEO every six months for years.
Of course, changes are inevitable, experts will need to tailor their content and change their strategies appropriately, but they won’t have to worry about changing professions anytime soon.
If there is one thing you should take away from this article, it’s this – Google search is becoming more natural and intuitive.
With the current model, getting proper answers means you have to break down your queries into keywords – short phrases, short questions, etc. MUM will use real, natural questions.
This new model is supposed to understand what a person is looking for naturally, just like an expert or aficionado will figure out what you want. It basically deciphers intent better.
Of course, this is all theory, currently. Its actual ramifications and usability will be evident only when it fully launches.
What This Means For SEO
Now onto the meat of the issue – how will MUM influence the work of an SEO expert. It’s expected that most of these changes will center around:
- Utilizing different forms of media through, and as, your content
- Lowering the significance of keywords
- Improved voice search
- More competition
Different Content Forms
First of all, written content won’t be as important as it once was. There will always be a place for blogs in SEO, but since MUM uses video, audio, and images to gather data, written content won’t be enough. Your competition will overtake you.
This puts a greater emphasis on getting custom web development. Since you won’t be able to rely solely on written content, you will need to find a way to integrate other media.
Having an instructional video, investing in infographics, maybe even implementing a podcast – these are avenues you need to explore if you want to maximize your results.
As an example, MUM’s system will gather data from an instructional video and use that to direct users to your website.
Just to give you another example – Google claims that with MUM, you can take a photo of a pair of shoes you like, ask if you can use them to go rock climbing, and you will actually get an answer you can use. That’s how good its data analysis will become.
Lower Emphasis on Keywords
This is just the natural next step in SEO. Keyword stuffing is practically a dirty word now. A while back, however, it was par for the course. Google, of course, cracked down on this poor practice.
This doesn’t mean that using keywords now is a black hat SEO technique. Rather, MUM is moving towards something more natural, where it will gather information from a wide array of formats and mediums, deemphasizing the need for more intense keywords implementation.
The Rise of Voice Search
In 2020, around 40% of US internet users utilized voice search when browsing the Web. That’s a pretty substantial market. More and more people are using Siri, Alexa, and Google assistant.
Since voice search queries already sound like regular, human questions, and since MUM is all about natural queries, you can expect better results when asking Siri for help.
Global and local competition
We’ve already mentioned that thanks to MUM knowing 75 languages, the few global barriers left, some based on language, are going to be erased.
Whatever content you put out there, now it will have to compete with the rest of the world.
In a way, this might improve local SEO. If MUM becomes better at providing specific information, you might focus a bit more effort on the regional markets and aspects of your content. Bits of information relating to your neighborhood or city might give you the push you need.
The Ambiguity of it all
You probably noticed all the mights, the maybes, and the coulds. The information above is based on what Google has decided to share with the world. Right now, it’s impossible to know for certain what actions one can take. However, we can all make an intelligent, educated guess.
We know, for certain, that there will be a greater emphasis on multiple forms of media, since MUM will gather data from audio, video, and image media much better than the previous system.
Furthermore, we also know for certain that MUM sticks to a trend that has been present in Google’s developments for years, if not decades – moving towards more natural, human-like, queries.
What You Can Do
You should take all of the above into account. Slowly modify your content and the way you do things, and then adapt once more information comes out.
Content and Media
As per DigitalStrategyOne, you must continue creating high-quality content, and mix things up a little. Your articles should provide the best information possible, and any keyword optimization efforts should take a back seat. Provide people with value.
Slowly start integrating more video content into your websites. Think about starting a podcast – maybe a daily digest on a specific topic relevant to your niche (20 minutes per episode is more than enough).
Think about creating “how to” content, with simple and quick videos, or with some infographics. Maybe hire a regular web designer and let him help you stick to a consistent design style. Build a base of media in advance.
Cover Your Bases
Remember that you also need to maximize the things you can control. Since MUM might completely overhaul the manner in which SEO experts do things when it comes to keywords and content forms, you should dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
Around 53% of people visiting a mobile site will leave the page if it doesn’t load within three seconds. You don’t want too much clutter on your websites – keep it sleek and functional.
As always, Google is trying to provide its users with the best possible experience. MUM will bring that to a new level, with its understanding of several dozen languages, and its focus on greater understanding and intent.
For SEO, all of this boils down to – create better content but also investing in images, video, and audio.