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.
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?
…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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.”
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
Google MUM Algorithm Does More than Just Rank Websites
Watch John Mueller discuss the MUM algorithm at the 2:13 minute mark: