Google recently announced an update to their search experience. At Google’s Search On event, they revealed their plans to utilize their machine learning technology, Multitask Unified Model (MUM), in ways that will create more contextual results.
MUM was only introduced back in May 2021 as their newest AI update, and with the updates, it doesn’t seem like the advancements will stop any time soon.
Their goal? Get users to start searching more detailed and context-driven questions when using the search engine.
How Google Seeks to Understand Searches
Natural language processing, or NLP, is AI technology that seeks to understand text in a more refined way, along the lines of how humans would understand it. Google began seeking to understand the context behind users searches in 2019 with the release of BERT, their original natural language processing technology.
This newest update builds on what BERT started, seeking to go beyond understanding search intent.
Google MUM, reportedly 1,000 times more powerful than BERT, will be capable of understanding the nuance of linguistics and speech.
Rather than rephrasing your search over and over again until you find the specific result you were looking for, Google will serve you the correct result the first time based on its in-depth understanding of language, essentially researching for you in real-time.
Beyond the Search Box: How Search Results Will Change
The goal of the MUM update is to make searching more intuitive. Google understands that searches are complex, and users don’t typically get enough relevant information in their first search.
In addition to providing a more accurate result the first time, Google MUM is redesigning search to offer more than the standard 10 blue links. This update will allow people to discover and learn more than they ever would have before with just one search.
Things To Know
Google is set to introduce a new feature on search called “Things to Know.” The Things to Know feature provides a box that leads to common search paths that users take after searching a particular query, such as step-by-step instructions, tips, comparisons, and more, all without leaving your original search window.
Google’s “refine this search” option is getting a bit of a makeover too. With the addition of “Topic Zoom,” you can quickly refine your search or broaden it so that you can explore ideas from broad concepts to specific approaches.
Visual Exploration & Video
When users search for queries that seek inspiration, such as “Halloween decor ideas” or “gallery wall inspiration,” Google will now recognize that they are predominantly seeking visual results. Google serves up a large grid of image results, along with large image thumbnails to accompany the 10 blue link results.
Google will now identify related topics to display additional topics below video results, providing users the opportunity to dig deeper. MUM understands the content of the video at a deeper level, allowing Google to serve results on related topics not even explicitly mentioned in the video.
Searching with Google Lens
Google’s Lens software has been around since 2017, but Google continues to find new ways to integrate this technology into its platforms. With MUM, Google hopes users will search for questions about what they see. Users will be able to take a photograph, then further refine their search with text.
Lens will provide opportunities to simply point their camera and search, allowing users to search for “thingamajigs” they may previously have not even been able to name. Lens paired with MUM could open up opportunities for users to directly search for repair for particular parts, new products, and more.
How You Should Adjust Your SEO Strategy for MUM
With those adjustments in mind, businesses should seek to create high-quality content that is easy to understand. Overall, that is no different than current SEO best practices, publishing great content that demonstrates expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (or E-A-T, as Google likes to call it).
Content on your site should seek to answer common questions and provide context around topics, providing opportunities for MUM to identify how your content is related to users’ searches. Blog posts could be a great way to create connections and add context to existing service pages on a site.
With the addition of Visual Exploration and Lens, images are more important than ever. Images on your site should enhance your content and add relevance. For service companies like HVAC and plumbing, adding imagery of particular systems could help drive results with the pending Lens update.
Branded imagery and photos of your work can be a great way to draw in users on the new Visual Exploration searches, especially for industries that may release inspiration-based content like home remodelers or landscapers.
Technical SEO is another strategic focus that will come into play with the MUM rollout. Through technical strategies like structured data, which give clues to search engines about your business and your content, MUM will create stronger connections and further understand how your site could relate to a user’s search.
How MUM Will Impact Your Online Presence
Because MUM seeks to impact search behavior, it will inevitably affect your online presence. Committing to an SEO strategy that aims to engage users with high-quality content is a significant first step to ensure MUM has a positive impact on your presence.
With all AI-driven updates, we can never be quite sure exactly what the future of search results is. If your content is relevant and valuable to the end-user, it will be rewarded in the evolving search results, through improved rankings and visually enhanced results.