Google’s John Mueller responded to a Reddit discussion about whether MUM will make SEO redundant. Since the purpose of MUM is to provide answers from multiple languages that are not currently answered by ten blue links, this is not an unreasonable question.
MUM is an acronym for Multitask Unified Model. It’s a way to answer complex questions that can’t be answered with just a few sentences in a featured snippet or with cutting-edge technology.
Google calls MUM a major event in the development of search technologies and calls it a milestone that is 1,000 times more powerful than the BERT algorithm.
Can MUM SE-Un be optimized?
One amazing way MUM solves answers is by using all of your knowledge on a topic, even if that knowledge is in another language.
Google said it can get answers from different languages. And that makes sense because answers in other languages can be more authoritative than the limited content produced in your local language.
In the recipe niche, an article on how to prepare a paella written in Spanish by a Spanish chef might be considered more authoritative than an article by a homestay mother in California with little to no experience of Spanish cuisine.
Who would you trust with an authentic Spanish recipe? The stay at Home Mom in California or the fourth generation Spanish chef?
Google uses the example of using native Japanese content for searches related to hiking Mount Fuji, which can also break down sub-topics only a local might know about.
Keyword Based SEO?
Another function is that MUM can find answers to questions that are a mixture of picture and text and give answers to this mixture.
How would an SEO optimize an answer to a question that is partially in the form of an image?
A picture is not a word. It’s a representation of a thing, an entity.
This is what Google says:
“At some point you might be able to take a picture of your hiking boots and ask:” Can I use them to climb Mt. Fuji? “
MUM would take the picture and tie it to your question to let you know that your boots would work fine. It could then direct you to a blog with a list of recommended equipment. “
In the MUM search paradigm, keyword optimization seems to fail because MUM answers a complex question made up of several subtopics.
Here’s how Google’s announcement explains it:
“Since MUM can gain insights from its deep knowledge of the world, it could highlight that both mountains are roughly the same height, but autumn is the rainy season on the mountain. Fuji, so you may need a waterproof jacket.
MUM could also uncover helpful subtopics for deeper exploration – like top rated equipment or best workout exercises – with references to helpful articles, videos, and images from across the web. “
It does not seem inappropriate to conclude that the MUM search result described above came from multiple websites in different languages.
And if that’s the case, how would you even imagine which website is best placed in a MUM search query if the query comes from several “helpful subtopics”?
- If your main language is English and part of your answer is from a Japanese website, is the Japanese website considered a top ranking?
- Will the blog post with the “Top Rated Gear” article be the winner?
- Or is the winner of that search query the editor of the “Best Exercise Exercise” article?
- Can all five sites, one of which is in a foreign language, be considered a top ranking?
- Will MUM redefine what it means to be in the first place in certain searches?
Finding answers from multiple websites seems like picking five winners and canceling five pieces of the trophy to take home.
If we accept the scenario of five websites with a chance for a top spot, how would you as an SEO try to optimize it?
Not an unreasonable question
We don’t know what MUM will look like when it hits the market in months or years, according to the Google announcement. We’re limited to drawing conclusions from the limited information Google has shared.
And what they announced doesn’t seem to fit the contours of search results as we know them.
Does that mean SEO has to adapt?
John Mueller comments on the impact of MUM on SEO
Google’s John Mueller replied to the Reddit thread by confirming that SEO is always needed.
Mueller’s answer was about a joke about keyword stuffing:
“How many SEO experts does it take to change a lightbulb, lightbulb, light, lightbulb, lamp, lighting, switch, sex, xxx, hardcore”
This is Müller’s answer:
“I don’t really see how this would reduce the need for SEO.
Things always develop.
Do you remember that SEO joke about changing the lightbulb? It has not been necessary for a long time, which is due to developments like these, and yet the SEO people still have enough to do. “
The work of SEO is evolving
Müller is right. The nature of the work associated with SEO is constantly evolving. Some in the SEO community are finding it difficult to change and still stick to the idea of ranking search results with ten blue links.
But the truth is that the age of ten blue links has been replaced with a hybrid that responds to the context of the question asked.
Google’s MUM algorithm can be described as a way of responding to a search query with a complex context.
If the answer is best achieved with content originally written in Japanese or Spanish, that may be part of the answer.
With no actual product at this point, it may be premature to scream that the sky is falling.
It may be wise to hold on to judgment until Google actually brings a product to market.
MUM will replace SEO?