In May 2021, Google also announced its MUM (Multitask Unified Model) update, which it claims will be “1,000 times more powerful” than Google’s previous version. This is BIG news and will have far-reaching impacts on both searchers and digital marketers alike.
MUM not only understands 75 different languages, but it is also multimodal, meaning it can understand information across text and images and in the future will expand to more modalities like video and audio.
The MUM update builds on the search engine’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) update, which was released in 2019 and allows Google to get better at understanding the context of human speech. With MUM, Google is attempting to go way beyond just understanding context to making searchers feel a lot more like they are asking questions and talking to an actual person.
Implications of Google’s MUM Update
Google’s MUM update will have implications on several fronts that we can predict now and more that we have yet to understand. At its core, MUM means that the SEO space will become more competitive, and it will likely become harder for brands to rank on Google’s first page.
There are a couple of reasons to expect this. First, if Google can understand and translate 75 languages, then it will be able to bring searchers the best answer in the language they are searching in, regardless of the language the content was written in. So now brands will be competing with many more websites. The good news on the flip side of this is that brands will presumably no longer have to create versions of their content or web pages in multiple languages.
Since MUM will also be able to interpret images and other modes in the future, there will be more types of results on its first page – where blogs and other forms of written content were sufficient in the past, brands will have to incorporate more useful images, infographics, video, and audio content to remain competitive.
In the short to medium term, Google Ads will likely become more expensive – if marketers start to see their organic search results falling, the most likely immediate reaction will be to supplement SEO with Google Ads to make sure their brands continue to be found on Google’s first page. Expect the cost of ads to increase because of the increase in competition for ad space.
You might have the best answer on Google and be among the top results on Google’s first page, but you may not see that traffic on your website. Feature snippets are already having this impact. Feature snippets are special boxes where short text appears on Google’s SERP that provides a succinct answer to the searcher’s question. Snippets allow a searcher to get their answer without clicking on the link in the SERP, meaning that if your answer is a snippet, there is a good chance the searcher will not need to go to your website to learn more. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it will impact the number of organic clicks to your website. MUM may have other such features in the future that may have further impacts on your analytics.
How to Prepare for Google MUM?
For some brands, preparing for Google’s MUM update means keep doing what they are doing, while for other brands, it means developing a more robust content marketing strategy and approach. For all brands, however, MUM means more and better content.
If you are already engaged in multimodal content marketing, you are likely to be rewarded by MUM because your brand will be further ahead than many of your competitors. If your only form of content marketing is blogs and written content, it’s a good time to start thinking about enhancing that content with images and infographics and to also start thinking about how you could add audio and video in the future.
The easy place to start is with images and infographics. Do you have great blogs and written content pages that can be enhanced with a fantastic infographic or image that helps people more quickly understand your written content? Can you add images to your core services pages that can enhance the text on those pages? Can you replace stock photos with photos of your actual products? Starting with these types of activities should serve you well.
Video and audio are the next places to consider making investments. We already know that these are fast-growing modes of communication and brands who make investments in these areas are likely to see big rewards once Google rolls out these aspects of MUM.
Regardless of the content format and approach you choose to focus on in response to MUM, one fact remains the same – content is KING and brands that continue to invest in content marketing will continue to separate themselves from the pack! If you need help with content or would like us to help you put together a data-driven content strategy that your team can execute, get in touch We would love to help you out!