What is MUM and Does it Affect the Ranking Factor?

Since Google was first launched in 1988, we have relied on the distinguished search engine for everything and anything we need to know. Since then, it continues to improve to understand the nuances of our queries—along with it is SEO.

Now, the tech giant is coming out with another update—you probably have heard of it already. Google introduced MUM in the summer of 2021 and is expected to complete its rollout this 2022.

With yet another update, how will it affect Google’s ranking factor and our SEO campaigns? Let us find out. 

What is MUM?

First things first: What is Google MUM exactly?

MUM is short for Multitask Unified Model. It is an advanced language specifically designed to understand and answer the complex queries of web users. It was introduced just a few years after its predecessor, BERT, another language process model, back in 2019. 

Basically, it was created to improve Google’s comprehensive search engine capabilities to get a better understanding of the search intent and answer queries—at the same time. 

What it does is it reads the inputted text by the web user and interprets the query. After that, it gains insight into the topic relating to the query and shares its findings with multi-layered content.

How will Google MUM affect SEO?

There is no denying that it sounds great. But, how does Google MUM affect SEO? Furthermore, how do we stay on top of the upcoming changes and adapt them to our SEO campaigns?

Let our first jump to the stuff that it does solve. Specifically, answering long-form questions. 

We all have typed a long question before. We normally do this because we are looking for specific information that answers our query. However, a link or a snippet of an article might not be enough. Getting the answer we want will require a lengthy explanation before coming to a conclusion.

Currently, Google answers queries by retrieving relevant information based on the ranks of the indexed web pages. But this will potentially change with MUM’s rollout.

In May 2021, Donald Metzler, a researcher at Google, published the paper Rethinking Search: Making Experts out of Dilettantes. In his research, he presents the need to change how search engines answer queries, especially long-form questions, by collapsing the time-tested index-retrieve-rank part of Google’s algorithm into a unified model.


So what do that spell for SEO, Google’s ranking factor, and other things? Here are the changes that you need to watch out for: 

Understand Information In Different Formats

For one, MUM is capable of reading, analysing, and understanding all forms of content available on the internet. What this means for your SEO strategy is that it is no longer just textual content like articles and blogs but also images, video, and audio content. 

Search Results Will Be Richer With Multi-Modal Content

This leads to two: Articles are not the only things that will pop up on the first page for SERP. Google will analyse images, videos, podcasts, and other content to only share the relevant information that effectively answers a query.

This presents a great opportunity for your SEO and, generally, your marketing campaign as well. You do not need to heavily rely on the text-based content you publish on your website to get first-page results. Other forms of content you produce, even on other platforms, will also come into play.

Google May Look Beyond Keywords

Google’s MUM as a search ranking factor will have a big effect on our use of keywords. This means it is not as important anymore and will only play a small role in your SEO strategy.

MUM is a lot better at comprehending search intent and queries compared to its predecessor. As a result, it will not heavily rely on keywords. It is capable of analysing and understanding the contents available on the internet and retrieving only the relevant information that will answer the question. 

For your SEO strategy, this might not have a big impact. It is likely you will still use keywords. However, the main focus will be more on producing high-quality content that directly and effectively answers queries. That said, renewed efforts in producing content to answer long-form questions should be worth considering.

Produce Predictive Answers

Google will get better at understanding web users’ intent. It means that web users will need less time to ask a series of queries, and the answers they get will be more insightful, showing a tailor-made results page of both the direct response and only the most helpful content.

On one hand, it will be vastly convenient for web users. However, on the other hand, rich results might potentially impact your SEO strategy and your website’s click-through rate. That said, SERP features like featured snippets and the “People Also Ask” portion will prove helpful in this regard.

Integrate Various Sources Into One

Basically, MUM will integrate multiple answers from various sources into one insightful prose. This will be helpful for long-form queries since the result will have the relevant points in a summarised form.

Bridge Language Barriers

Another thing you need to look forward to is that Google’s new algorithm is multilingual. In fact, MUM can understand and interpret 75 languages. This bridges the biggest dilemma for non-English speaking web users and for foreign brands’ SEO content that is not adapted for multilingualism.

Content Can Reach A Much Wider Audience

All in all, the content you produce and publish will have a broader reach for web users around the world. This is because content that was not available before can be translated and will be made available in insightful rich search results.

Adapt Your SEO Campaign To Change

MUM as a ranking factor will impact SEO and SERP.  

That said, it does not mean you have to completely change your SEO strategy—but you will need to update it. In fact, the new algorithm just underlines the importance of the quality of the content you produce such as text, images, video, and audio content. This is the best way to ensure your website is still visible to web users. 

Another thing to look into is to make sure your website is SEO optimised. This includes looking into the schema of your web pages, particularly the products and service pages, and blog pages. You should also check the technical aspects of SEO to maintain the performance of your website. 

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