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Google MUM Algorithm Can Do More than Rank Websites via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s John Mueller was asked about how many search queries the MUM algorithm was affecting. John said he didn’t know and then explained that the Google MUM algorithm is multi-purpose and could be used in contexts beyond just ranking.

Question About Google Application of MUM Technology

The MUM algorithm is impressive because it can search for answers across web documents regardless of language and can even use images as part of the search query.

So it’s understandable that the person asking the question wanted to know how much MUM was affecting the search results.

Google’s John Mueller answered the question and then tried to put MUM into perspective without any hype.

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This is the question that was asked:

“A couple years ago Google noted that when it came to ranking results BERT would better understand and impact about ten percent of searches in the U.S.

My question is two-fold:

Has that percentage changed for BERT?

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…What percentage is MUM expected to better understand and impact searches?”

How Many Searches Does MUM Affect?

John Mueller admitted that he didn’t know how many searches MUM affected and then explained why it might be difficult to put a number to the influence of MUM in the search results.

His answer first addressed the numbers for BERT and then addressed MUM.

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John Mueller answered:

“I have no idea…

I’m pretty sure that the percentage changed since then because everything is changing.

But I don’t know if we have a fixed number that goes for BERT or that goes for MUM.”

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Related: Google Announces Search Redesign Using MUM Algorithm

Mum is Like a Multi-purpose Machine Learning Library

John Mueller next followed up with thoughts about MUM and said that it can be applied to a wide range of tasks that go beyond ranking.

He said:

“Mum, as far as I understand it is more like a multi-purpose machine learning library anyway.

So it’s something that can be applied to lots of different parts of search.

It’s not so much that you would isolate it to just ranking.

But rather you might be able to use it for understanding things on a very fine grained level and then that’s kind of interwoven in a lot of different kinds of search results.

But I don’t think we have any fixed numbers.”

Google is Happy with MUM

The person asking the question asked a follow-up question that John answered with a non-hype description of MUM that portrayed it as doing things that aren’t necessarily as flashy as it might seem from the outside looking in.

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The follow-up question:

“It seemed to me like it was going to open up more opportunities actually for different products or queries to be discovered.

It seemed like it was just sort of exponentially going to blow it out what one could learn.”

John Mueller responded:

“I don’t know… we’ll see.

I think it’s always tricky to look at the marketing around machine learning algorithms, because it’s very easy to find …very exponential examples.

But that doesn’t mean that everything is as flashy as that.

…In talking with some of these search quality folks, they’re really happy with the way that these kinds of machine learning models are working.”

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Google’s Mum Algorithm is More Than Just Ranking

John Mueller added a little bit more information about Google’s MUM algorithm by explaining that it’s more than just applicable for ranking purposes.

He indicated that there are other tasks that it can perform that are beyond the ranking part of Google’s algorithms and that it can play a role in other parts of search.

Mueller also described MUM as being able to understand things with a fine-grained level of detail.

Related: Google MUM is Coming to Lens

Citation:

Google MUM Algorithm Does More than Just Rank Websites

Watch John Mueller discuss the MUM algorithm at the 2:13 minute mark:

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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