Google has announced a redesign of its search engine that introduces a new way to explore topics using an artificial intelligence (AI) feature called MUM.
The search engine plans to guide users through the topics that interest them in a more visual way.
It claims to be 1000 times more powerful than its predecessor, BERT (Bi-Directional Encoder Representations of Transformers), first introduced in 2019.
But how can Google users expect to benefit from the changes?
What is MUM and what does it mean?
MUM, short for Multitask Unified Model, is an algorithm created to search the Internet in different languages and through images to find the answers to elaborate questions.
What do the changes mean for you?
Google users currently rely on the world’s largest search engine for answers that are found in text or recommended links.
The addition of MUM promises a huge change in what using the search engine can bring us. Users have already faced difficulties regarding language barriers (for example, searching in English tends to only lead you to resources in English) and need several searches to get a complete answer to their queries.
A key example would be this: instead of producing two individual searches for “What’s the weather like in Finland?” and “What’s the weather like in Spain?” Google will present these results to you side by side. It will be able to match your query in 75 different languages.
Google’s main focus is on MUM’s ability to search using images.
MUM was created with the aim of bringing solutions based not only on text, but on multimedia such as images, videos and podcasts. This could invite users to become more specific in their queries instead of relying on vague, SEO-friendly language.
How will these features affect users?
The three main features of Google MUM include:
Focus on the subject
Being able to seamlessly enter and exit topics related to your research.
‘Things to know’
Present journeys to the user through related topics to make follow-up searches more efficient. Searching for a person, event, or object would cause Google to recommend a series of extended searches that help you learn more about the topic you’ve searched for.
For example, searching for “guitar” will present you with a number of avenues: “how to play”, “where to buy”, “tips”, etc.
Visually navigable search results
This feature is already present in the search engine and targets users looking to find inspiration in areas where a visual aid would be useful.
Researching hobbies like decorating, cooking, and fashion will usually provide options for visually exploring the topic.
You can search for garden decorating ideas and be presented with a wealth of options from a number of sources which come in the form of browsable images.
How will this affect the search engine?
Google has come under fire from publishers and website owners for encouraging users to stick to the first ten links presented to them on the first page of its results.
This move could bring a shift in that strategy by encouraging users to dive into smaller, independent resources by encouraging trails and images.
MUM could also be good news for SEO critics by allowing website owners to post in accordance with what the service/information provided is actually about, but that remains to be seen.