What’s New in Google Search in 2021


Jenna Lamb, online marketing analyst at Ontario SEO
Jenna Lamb
October 18, 2021
iPhone displaying Google Search page

On September 29th, Google made a number of new product announcements at their annual Search On event.

New Google Maps Features

Wildfire boundaries

Google will now show wildfire boundaries in Google maps, in, “real time in critical moments”. The fire boundary maps will include details of the fire as they are updated. 

Tree canopy insights

A new Google maps feature that will provide insights into where trees can be planted in urban areas to reduce urban warming. Google sees it as their role to, “help more places respond to climate change”. Currently this feature is only available in US cities.

Google’s MUM 

MUM, or Multitask Unified Model, is a significant update to Google’s search engine technology, allowing the search engine to get closer to addressing complex user queries with fewer searches.  

This form of multimodal machine learning that can search and aggregate across formats (text, images, video etc.) and make implicit connections between them. MUM is 1000 times more powerful than its predecessor BERT and is trained in 75 different languages. 

Google Lens feature enhancements

Updates to Google Lens will allow users to combine visual and text inputs for search. 

Instant shopping

Shop straight from the SERP. This feature is currently available in the Google app only but will coming soon to Chrome. 

Things to Know page 

MUM allows Google to aggregate information in much more deep and complex ways. Some queries will now display suggestions of other topics to explore.

An example of Google’s” Things to Know” result in SERP – Ontario SEO

Refine or Broaden search 

MUM will also allow better suggestions for broadening or refining user queries.

An example of” Refine this Search” in the Google SERP – Ontario SEO
An example of “Broaden this Search” in the Google SERP – Ontario SEO

More visual browsing

MUM’s ability to integrate information across a variety of formats has enhanced features like visual browsing.

An example of improved visual browsing in Google’s SERP – Ontario SEO

Related topics for video

Related topics for video searches in Google’s SERP – Ontario SEO

Google Shopping Graph 

Improvements to the Google Shopping graph will now allow more instant shopping experiences using Google lens. Google now has more that 24 billion products indexed (we were wondering what they were up to when they made shopping ads free!). Look for new features to come like an “in-stock” filter for local retailers. If you are a retailer, there has never been a better time to get your inventory online. 

“About This Result” Expansion 

Google is taking its role in the spread of misinformation more seriously. They have announced several enhancements to search result features that will improve transparency and make it easier to identify the source of information. This includes: 

  • Enhanced insights into information sources with more “About this Result” icons.
  • Full news coverage of developing stories, with priority placement in the search results.
  • Using the powerful algorithm to fact-check results and identify sources of misinformation. 
  • Providing content advisories when information has been identified as misleading or tagging results when “Google can’t find this info”.
Google promises to do their part to prevent the spread of misinformation – Ontario SEO

Plus Code Apps 

Google is expanding the availability of Google Plus Codes to provide more accessibility to addresses for inhabitants of rural areas in more countries.

Watch the full event

If you have questions or want to learn more about leveraging these updates in your own SEO strategy. Get in touch.