After years of development, Google researchers say they’ve created a new algorithm to address complex searches called the Multitask Unified Model (or MUM for short).
Because MUM is able to produce language, it can create narrative responses to queries similar to what a human expert would say.
These responses might include insights from multiple sources and other relevant queries.
MUM is said to have 1,000 times as many neural nodes as the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (aka BERT) model it will replace. This allows it to better understand the meaning of queries and search across content types, such as images, video, and audio.
In addition to providing users with more nuanced and informative search results, MUM will benefit marketers as well.
Moving forward, you’ll be able to target more advanced and comprehensive search queries. MUM will prompt the creation of more helpful content designed around readers’ needs instead of Google’s previous SEO requirements.
As the algorithm rolls out, here are three ways MUM is likely to change digital marketing:
MUM Connects Related Topics
Because MUM is multimodal, it understands information across different content types and topics. The goal is to help users find the right answers without searching multiple queries. You can take advantage of this by casting a wider net to catch more searches.
Let’s say you’re marketing a fishing brand by targeting the phrase “best time to catch bass.” Many different factors affect the answer, including the season, location, type of bass, water temperature and quality, depth, and more. MUM allows you to cover all of these nuances through text, imagery, and video, and it will pull the relevant aspects for searchers.
One day, MUM might allow users to upload images of fishing lures and answer the question “Which lure is best to catch bass?” using data.
The image recognition technology, Google Lens, already allows users to translate text, identify plants and animals, and see what menu items are popular, among other things. When MUM is incorporated into it, Google Lens will become even more powerful.
You could take a picture of what you’re bringing on a trip to the beach, for instance, and ask whether you have everything you need. Already, there’s been a consistent increase in rich results, and they’re becoming more visual every day.
So what can you do to capitalize on this opportunity?
Consider converting your best-performing content into another format to transfer the value and attract new visitors.
For example, you could take a popular blog post and make visual representations of the data. Now you’re driving traffic through image search and social.
Using MUM, Google will create a digital footprint of this content and rank it favorably across mediums, potentially compounding the amount of free organic traffic you net.
MUM Minimizes the Language Barrier
The MUM update will enable Google to retrieve high-quality results written in one language and then reproduce them in another, allowing users around the world to benefit from the best content. MUM is already working to understand 75 languages.
As a marketer, this is a prime opportunity to reach a global audience without spending a lot of money and time translating material.
The new algorithm has already been used to identify 800 different vaccine names in 50 languages. This provided Google with a larger set of data for COVID-19-specific search results. In the future, this will improve answers to review-style questions.
Language barriers often prevent users from learning what other areas think about certain places or businesses. Without knowing local terms, spellings, or nuances, users can’t make the best decisions possible. But this won’t be an issue with MUM.
Taking baby steps in the right direction is the key to gaining a competitive advantage here. MUM won’t immediately be able to translate search results, so you need to bridge the gap between what can currently be done and what will be accomplished in the future.
If you have content that adds value, has analytics data to corroborate its value, isn’t tied down by geography, and could be helpful globally, then consider translating it into additional languages. This will help MUM recognize and “tag” it as a candidate for search results in other languages, classifying it as more prestigious and authoritative.
Ideally, you should prioritize secondary languages based on your company’s focus.
MUM Reduces Simple-Answer Search Results
Some questions have easy answers. The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second, and a water molecule is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Ask Google these questions, and you’ll get clear and concise results. But if you ask it how to prepare for a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, your results wouldn’t be quite as fruitful. At least, not until the arrival of MUM.
This new algorithm will create a new type of search result. As Pandu Nayak, vice president of search at Google, explains, “We think MUM can take a piece of text like that [the search query], which is this complex information need, and break it up into these sort of individual information needs.”
The key takeaway?
Create great content.
The algorithm can answer searchers’ queries using a variety of materials. If you’re not providing searchers with what they need, MUM will take note, and nothing will work. In the artificial intelligence-powered future, your brand needs to be known for producing images, text, videos, etc., that users find valuable.
Quality is inherently tied to success, so your best content is likely your top-performing content. Which pieces see the most engagement? Traffic? Conversions?
Analyze why each one achieves its results, and form your strategy around what people want to see. Writing for search engines is already becoming an outdated practice. Instead, create content for users.
MUM’s development heralds a new era for digital marketers and a departure from the outdated keyword-stuffing SEO tactics you likely relied on in the past.
As the algorithm rolls out, stay tuned to see how MUM changes the search game forever.