At this year’s Google I/O conference in May, the Mountain View-based search engine giant introduced the latest Google Algorithm called MUM or Multitask Unified Model. In certain sections of the digital marketing world, MUM is being hailed as the death of SEO.
MUM is trained in over 75 languages, which means it can understand complex search queries and analyze relevant text, images, videos, or audio to show results. While it’s pretty similar to the BERT update of 2019, Google claims that it’s actually 1,000x more powerful.
Professionals from a reputable website design and SEO agency will tell you that while keywords are still very relevant, the advancement in Google search algorithm is leaning more towards content marketing than SEO. Here’s a primer article on Google algorithms and how it favors content marketing.
Understanding RankBrain, BERT, and MUM
Industry bigwigs like Google and Facebook have implemented artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a more sophisticated framework for their users. Google introduced a dedicated AI algorithm called RankBrain in 2015, which used machine learning and AI to help Google rank SERPs.
RankBrain takes segments of the entire search query and relates them to the most popular searches with those related terms. In essence, RankBrain prioritized the search intent of the user over the relevance of the keyword. With RankBrain, the paradigm shift began as the focus moved from tacking keywords for ranking to creating content that best solves the user’s query.
Fast forward to 2019 — Enter BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), the biggest ever update to Google’s algorithm. BERT made it easier for Google to understand the conversational and complex queries with prepositions.
BERT uses machine learning and neural networks to analyze the entire set of words in a question to relate them to each other and show accurate results. In short, BERT was designed for better language processing to help Google show cleaner or more relevant results to serve the user’s search intent best. BERT was a giant leap forward in the Neural Language Processing field.
Speaking of a giant leap forward, remember MUM from the beginning of this article. It stands for Multitask Unified Model and is based on the same transformer architecture as BERT, only 1,000X faster. Why? You ask. MUM can decode winding, complex searches in 75 different languages and understands information available in the form of images, videos, and audio.
In a way, one can compare MUM to the human brain. A human brain utilizes multiple sensory systems to analyze various information provided by an object to present a single representation or reality.
In the same way, MUM can combine numerous details to offer the most relevant SERPs for the user query. Thanks to its multilingual training, language is no longer a barrier, and it’s multimodal, which means it can analyze information in any format.
While MUM is yet to roll out widely, its implications on search ranking and SEO will be huge. Let’s find out how.
Key Takeaway: Content Is ALWAYS The King
So, what do these advancements in the Google search engine tell you? The search engine has moved away from keywords-related SERPs a long while back. Simply stuffing your content with the most relevant keywords will not rank your page higher anymore like it used to. Of course, keywords are still relevant as they form the query, but they are not the be-all and end-all anymore.
Instead, with NLP and AI-based algorithms like BERT and MUM, Google has made it plenty clear that it looks at the context and search intent now. These algorithms are designed to recognize the purpose behind any query and show results that best solve that particular query.
So, what does it mean for digital marketing and SEO professionals, who need to deliver high-ranking pages to their clients? While other SEO and digital marketing tools like PPC are still very effective, good content will help drive traffic to any website for the long term.
The best way to optimize a page to rank on a search engine today is to identify the relevant keyword, research the intent behind that keyword, and create rich content that best resolves that intent for the customer. If Google realizes a pattern that most users who clicked on your page didn’t go back and looked for another page for the same information, be rest assured your page will rank higher on the SERP.
While Google algorithms will come and go, the thing that remains is the search engine’s vision to best serve its users with the most relevant content concerning their queries. Having a content bank that doesn’t prompt the user to click back for the next result will go a long way in ranking your page higher. With MUM right around the corner, it’s high time to pull up your socks and start optimizing the content.