What is Google’s MUM?

Back in September, the Search On event gave us a detailed look at something that was initially previewed in May of 2021 at its I/O event. This gave us a look at new ways to use MUM technology, including related topics in videos and multimodal searching through Google Lens. These are not necessarily an overhaul of how Google Search functions, but they offer businesses and customers new ways to search and find opportunities for additional visibility on the SERP. There are some changes to adapt to, though.

Explanation of MUM

Like good old BERT, MUM stands for Multitask Unified Model and is built on a familiar transformer architecture. However, the company reports that it is 1,000 times as powerful and able to multitask to provide information to users in new and exciting ways. One of the first public uses was for MUM to identify over 800 variations of COVID vaccine names over dozens of languages in mere seconds. As impressive as that application is, it didn’t show off the multimodal aspect of MUM’s potential.

With Google Lens

Google showed a new way to use Google Lens that integrates MUM technology into searching by images. In a feature called “point-and-ask,” users point Google Lens at an object and takes a picture, and MUM provides information. Google’s example was to show a user taking a photo of a bicycle part they didn’t recognize and asked how to fix it. MUM brought this user to specific points in videos related to that specific part.

Another commerce-related example was given. Another user took a photo of a distinct floral print shirt and searched “socks with this pattern,” – And MUM returned shopping results containing socks with that specific pattern. Google says this specific function will be arriving early next year in 2022.

How to Leverage MUM

A section called “Things to Know,” lists several aspects relating to the user’s search query. This can allow users to get to information faster than they could otherwise based on what other users tend to search for. Google’s example was to search for a fairly vague topic – Acrylic painting – And was provided with a step-by-step instructional guide on the SERP about using acrylic paints, styles of paintings, and tips in an easily browsed series of dropdown topics.

Users can also choose to “refine” or “broaden” searches. In the above example, the options of refining the Search contained things such as acrylic painting ideas, techniques, sets, and even online classes. Broadening the Search provided a selection of related but more general searches like overall painting styles or famous painters who used acrylic paints.

The Takeaway

MUM is a robust new technology that expands the suite of tools at the fingertips of users who use its services and provides businesses with new ways to become visible on SERPs. While initially, we didn’t know when the technology would be available, but now we know it is coming quickly and will broaden the flexibility of Google’s search operations through interconnected services and robust usability options. This focus on usability, intuitive design, and search accuracy promise an exciting new climate in SEO activities.