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Is MUM Google’s Next Paradigm Shift?

Google updates its search engine ranking algorithms every day. The updates are mostly small, imperceptible tweaks that even the keenest-eyed SEO doesn’t notice. Occasionally, the search engine rolls out more significant updates. These are sometimes referred to as ‘core’ updates, and they can have major impacts on keyword rankings.

Even more rare than core updates are changes to very foundation upon which Google Search is built. In a recent article for Search Engine Land, Olaf Kopp, head of SEO at the German digital marketing agency Aufgesang, explained that one such change may be coming.

In May 2021, Google introduced a new technology called the Multitask Unified Model (MUM). The search engine’s goal with this tech, Kopp explains, is ‘to use only one [machine learning] model for all tasks related to indexing, information retrieval and ranking.’ The outcome is likely to be an exponentially more semantic search experience with massive benefits for users, but not necessarily publishers.

Kopp predicts that SEOs will have to drastically alter their approaches to maintain success under MUM. When the vast majority of searches are performed using natural language, and when search journeys continue using natural language well past the initial query, keyword density and structured data will become much less important than the quality of information provided.

“Content managers should concern themselves less with the frequency of keywords in their content and consider the perspectives from which a topic should be dealt with,” Kopp writes. “Content provides the answers to questions. But just producing content will no longer be enough in the future.”

While MUM remains a relatively new technology, and while fully semantic search remains years (but not decades) in the future, SEOs and the companies they serve should begin preparing for the future of search today. For more detailed coverage, please refer to Kopp’s original article.


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