Google Search’s Latest Update & How to Make it Work for Your Website’s SEO

Maeve Ginsberg
5 min read

Google announced big updates to its search engine earlier this quarter and surprise!—AI, or artificial intelligence, plays a huge role.

This announcement follows their already-unveiled MUM algorithm (Multitask Unified Model), which has the ability to search across languages and search with images to answer more complex questions. 

Let’s rewind a little bit to talk about where this comes from and why it matters for your website.

Google used to only have simple, text-only search results that displayed the title tag, meta description, and link for a web page. 

Over the years, the search engine result page, or SERP, has evolved. Auto-suggest debuted in 2008. “Search by Image” showed up in 2011. The knowledge panel first appeared in 2012. The SERP becomes more and more visual, nuanced, and, well, helpful. 

While the ever-changing algorithm for strong SEO rankings can be frustrating to keep up with, the current Google SERP offers a number of new and unique ways to rank well and exponentially increase traffic to your site. 

Let’s explore the latest updates and talk about how to make the Google algorithm work for your small business’s website.

MUM Algorithm’s New Features

Here are some of the new features that are coming soon or have already been implemented:

A "Things to Know" panel for a search about SEO. Notice all the different elements!
  • Visual Search: The Lens feature enables users to combine both image and text search to find what they’re looking for without an explicit text search. Have you ever been shopping for a certain clothing item but not known how to search for it? Trying to fix something but don’t know what a certain part is called? By fueling that search with images, Google is helping users find what they’re looking for with fewer steps (and fewer words!).
  • “Things to Know” Panel: If Google thinks your search terms might lead to some how-to questions, it’s going to show you more information in this panel. The algorithm has a framework for how people typically explore that topic and will recommend both likely related searches as well as less solutions you may not have known to search for but benefit from once it’s presented.
  • Visual Results Page: The days of text-only SERPs are long gone, but the results page is about to get a lot more visual. Featured images and videos will accompany meta descriptions or blurbs for a more visually rich experience.
  • Video Results: You’ve probably enjoyed some of the newer video result features on the SERP, like the moment in a how-to video when the steps to take actually start, helping you skip the largely unhelpful introduction. That feature is about to be kicked up a notch with related topics which will populate below the video to provide additional information that the MUM algorithm deems relevant based on the video content.

How to Optimize Your Website for the MUM SERP

With these algorithm updates comes the need to optimize your website to improve your SEO for this new SERP layout. Here are a few tweaks to make to increase your chances of ranking with the new visual search features:

  • Optimize for long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords have been important for a while, but MUM makes them more important than ever. Create your website content around answering anticipated relevant searches. Think: question-and-answer, how-to, and quick definitions. Consider how a part of the text might be clipped for a featured snippet.
  • Add in visuals: SEO is so much more than just words on a webpage. Images can now help you rank! Be sure to fill in the alt text for crawlers as well as accessibility. 
  • Incorporate video: Just like images, videos can now help you rank due to their ever-growing presence on the SERP. Videos that feature clear instructions or answer a relevant question are more likely to rank.
  • Address related content: In addition to long-tail keywords, your content should now address related topics just like Google does. This can be built into your content or be a smaller section at the bottom of the page. Don’t force this, but rather, be creative with it!  
  • Refine your content: Featured snippets are made up of content that concisely address a topic—so your content should do the same. Make sure your website is clear and to-the-point.

Want to ensure your website is optimized for the latest Google updates? Our SEO marketing team can help with that. Get in touch with us today.