Google MUM: What We Know So Far

SUSO 13 May 2022

We cut through the noise to share everything you need to know about Google’s powerful new algorithm update: Google MUM.

Author: Steve Cooper, Content Writer

Steve Cooper






On May 21st, 2021, Google announced that it was busy rolling out a new algorithm, and since then, everyone has been scrambling to figure out what it means. As usual, there’s a lot of speculation going on, but we’re going to cut through the noise and share with you everything we know so far.

So, what do we know?

First off, this algorithm will be pretty significant; Google has described it as “a new AI milestone for understanding information.” It’s being called the “MUM” update, which stands for Multitask Unified Model.

1,000 Times More Powerful than BERT

more powerful than BERT

Google’s ability to understand and generate language has significantly increased in recent years, with the BERT algorithm launched in November 2019 playing a pivotal role in this. BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, utilises machine learning techniques to analyse and process natural language more effectively than ever before. 

The BERT algorithm analyses words, patterns, structures, and relationships within search queries. The result of this process has led to better search relevancy and improved comprehension of user intent. All this seemed game-changing just a few years ago, but the MUM update is taking things to a whole new level.

As with BERT, MUM is built on the same transformer architecture and T5 text-to-text framework but will be a staggering 1,000x more powerful, according to Google!

What is MUM and How does it Work?

Essentially MUM can be broken down into three areas that will help improve search results for users:

1) MUM is Multimodal

The key to MUM’s success is its deeper understanding of data types and its ability to combine information from multiple sources to create a more complete picture of what is relevant to each user. By aggregating different data types, including voice, images, and video, MUM can provide the user with a more comprehensive response to their search query.

2) The Elimination of Language Barriers

elimination language barriers

MUM can understand and translate 75 different languages, so searchers will be provided with insightful information from global sources that were not available before. For instance, if you wanted to know the best bars in Shibuya, Tokyo, you would probably be better served by a local food and drink blogger in the area. Soon MUM will be able to deliver that information in seconds and in your native language even if the original content was written in Japanese.

3) It’s More Capable of Handling Complex Search Queries

According to Google, “people issue eight queries on average for complex tasks” MUM aims to be the solution as it can provide more specific results. With its deeper understanding of data and user intent, MUM can handle long-tail queries that are typically difficult to decipher.

How will MUM Impact Users?

how MUM impact users

One of the most significant implications of the MUM update is that it will make Google’s search results even more personalised to each individual user. This new algorithm will aim to assist users by providing them with refined answers as if answered by an expert on the subject or the topic with fewer searches. MUM will not only provide searchers with better answers, but they will get them faster.

How will MUM Impact SEO?

how will MUM impact SEO

So is this the end of SEO as we know it? Not quite. While the MUM update will have a big impact on how SEO is done, it’s not going to upend the industry altogether. In fact, many of the same best practices that you should already be following will continue to pay off.

SEOs are likely to encounter a lot more competition, with MUM able to comprehend and generate 75 languages. This will give rise to a new level of international SEO and SERP competition.

Furthermore, MUM could also have an impact on the type of content that ranks. In the past, Google has been able to understand and index text relatively well. However, with the addition of image understanding to MUM’s capabilities, Google will likely place more emphasis on images and videos in their search results.

As MUM will be more context-sensitive to the individual user, even if two individuals enter the same search query, they may see different results. This is due to MUM taking into account various factors such as location, device, and past search history. Though this isn’t entirely new for Google, MUM will have a much greater impact on the SERPs – meaning that SEOs will need to get even more strategic with their content.

What Can You Do to Prepare?

Right now, it’s early days for MUM, and there’s no need to panic. Google has said that they don’t expect the algorithm to be fully rolled out for a few years.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to prepare:

Content is king has become something of a cliché at this point, but it is evident from the MUM update that Google’s focus on quality and relevance is stronger than ever. As an SEO, you will need to start thinking more holistically about your content strategy.

SEOs will need to start thinking about optimising their visual content for both users and search engines. This could include everything from using the right file format to choosing the right keywords to describe your visuals.

Keywords have held a lot less value in SEO in recent years. While unlikely to become obsolete altogether in the near future, it’s essential to start thinking about how to craft your content around topics and entities rather than individual keywords.

Final Thoughts

The MUM update is one of the biggest algorithm updates we’ve seen from Google in recent years, and it’s likely to have a considerable impact on SEO. However, providing diverse and engaging content that answers the questions users are asking will likely be the primary driving force behind how you are found in the SERPS. 

If you’re looking for an SEO partner to help grow your site’s online presence, get in touch with us today.

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