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Understanding Project Magi: Google’s Search Revolution

Julia McCoy
Tuesday, 25th Apr 2023
Julia McCoy
5 min read · Jan 11 2022
understanding project magi

Is Google working on an entirely new search engine?!

Yes. 🤯🤯

Google is reportedly working on this new endeavor under the code name “Project Magi.” 

Here’s how it all went down: 

First Microsoft got a leg up over Google by integrating ChatGPT into Bing. Google initially responded by launching its Bard chatbot in February.

Then Samsung said it was considering replacing Google Search with Bing as the default on all its devices. 

Google panicked.

And so, here comes Project Magi. 🔮

With a chat-like interface that enables seamless transactions, Project Magi promises a personalized experience unlike any other. Let’s look at how this latest move from Google could change the SEO landscape and what the future holds for search.

Table of Contents:

Why is Google Pivoting to Project Magi?

According to a recent report from the New York Times, Google first issued a “code red” last December in response to the meteoric rise of ChatGPT, sending designers and engineers into a frenzy. 

And then it learned in March that Samsung was considering changing its default search engine to Bing — which is now powered by ChatGPT — for all its smartphones, tablets, and laptops. 

The potential loss of the $3 billion Samsung contract led to widespread internal panic at Google. Now the company has 160 engineers working on Magi, tweaking and testing the technology in “sprint rooms” in time for its expected release next month, likely at the annual Google i/O developers conference.

panicking about chatgpt

While Google still holds over 90% of the search market, Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT into Bing has posed a huge threat to decades of Google dominance.

Bing search has already seen a 25% growth in monthly page visits after the integration of ChatGPT and GPT-4, and Microsoft stands to earn $2 billion from every 1% increase in market share.

microsoft bing has seen 25% growth in page visits after chatgpt launch

Screenshot from Similarweb

To weather the storm, Google is now focusing on adding AI features to its existing search engine through Project Magi — an entirely new AI-powered search engine that is currently in the early stages of development.

What is Project Magi?

Project Magi is Google Search with AI.

According to the Times report, Magi is expected to provide a more personalized experience by learning what users want to know while they’re searching. 

By anticipating users’ needs, Magi will be able to offer options for products to buy, information to research, and other data and information relevant to the searcher.

Chat-Like Interface

One of the most significant changes that Project Magi will introduce is its innovative chat-like interface. This new approach to search aims to make user interactions with Google more conversational and engaging, providing a seamless experience that closely resembles messaging apps.

Imagine talking to an AI assistant like Alexa — which can learn from past interactions and provide more relevant, personalized answers — but this time having that interaction on a search engine.

Magi will be able to generate answers to specific questions and display search results for individual users based on their search history and behavior.

Transactions Within Search

Another notable feature of Project Magi is the added ability to facilitate transactions directly within Google’s search engine. This functionality has significant implications for both consumers and businesses as it streamlines the purchasing process.

Magi would allow searchers to book flights, buy everyday items, and complete financial transactions while still allowing marketers to run ads on search results.

Google is also working on:

  • Incorporating AI into Google Earth’s mapping technology.
  • Adding music search through a conversation with a chatbot.
  • Generating images through GIFI in Google Image results.
  • Teaching users a new language through open-ended AI conversations on Tivoli Tutor.
  • Allowing users to ask chatbot questions while on Google Chrome through Searchalong.

When Will Magi Be Available?

Project Magi’s AI-powered search tools should be available next month, with more features coming in the fall. 

Here’s a statement from Google spokesperson Lara Levin:

“We’ve been bringing AI to Google Search for years to not only dramatically improve the quality of our results, but also introduce entirely new ways to search, such as Lens and multisearch. We’ve done so in a responsible and helpful way that maintains the high bar we set for delivering quality information. Not every brainstorm deck or product idea leads to a launch, but as we’ve said before, we’re excited about bringing new AI-powered features to Search, and will share more details soon.”

Project Magi features will be released initially to a maximum of 1 million users in the United States, and around 30 million by the end of the year. 

Is SEO Dead?

Project Magi likely won’t kill SEO, but it could have significant implications for people who rely on organic traffic from Google to make money.

Here are a few possible effects of Project Magi on SEO:

  • Personalization: There will be even more focus on personalization, which could force SEO professionals to do more in-depth customer research and analysis to tailor content to a higher level.
  • Optimization: To adapt to the new chat-like search interface, creators must optimize content for voice search and AI-generated responses. This means creating content that’s easier for AI to understand so it could provide better, more accurate information.
  • Engagement: To improve customer engagement and retention, marketers should create more interactive content and improve web design and usability.
  • Competition: Facing more competition than ever, businesses will have to offer a better user experience, more unique content, and deliver more value to their audiences overall.

What About SEO Content?

So, if SEO changes drastically, will SEO content still matter?

YES. 👏

Domain name power and authority won’t be going away. 

After all, how are both of those built?

100% — with high-quality, EEAT-friendly (user-focused) SEO content.

Even if/when Google adds ChatGPT-like features to round out their existing autocomplete (the drop-down that auto-fills when you type), their AI is still going to pull from top-ranking results. 

Which are built through — you guessed it — high-quality, relevant content & links.

Perplexity.ai is a great example, built by OpenAI engineers, that shows us the future of SERPs.

How it works: Users interact with a chatbot-esque interface to ask questions and get answers. The AI pulls in answers based on information it finds on the web, and it references those sources with footnotes.

perplexity.ai footnotes and sources

Screenshot from Perplexity.ai

This reminds me of the footnotes we used to write in our college essays. These AI footnotes will hold a lot of weight.

CTR (click-through rate) to your site from ChatGPT-like-SERPs could go *UP* if it pulls in references for that written answer… BECAUSE you end up competing with less. 🤯

Links and domain authority will matter more than ever (again, content!). 

If you want to future-proof your content, think about adding more content sooner rather than later to start building that topical authority and domain strength.

The best way to get ahead? Through great content. Which… you guessed it… Content at Scale can help you write.

The Future of Search Engines

It’s true: AI-powered chatbots could one day replace traditional search engines.

Microsoft is already gaining momentum since Bing adopted ChatGPT, further increasing the pressure for erstwhile market leader Google to keep up.

Project Magi and the development of a brand new AI-powered search engine is Google’s response to this challenge. 

Bing and Google will continue to evolve in the AI era, and for marketers and SEO professionals, now is not the time to be mere spectators. Success will ultimately depend on our ability to adapt to the changing search landscape and find ways to create and optimize content for AI-generated responses.

Project Magi is Just the Beginning

As competition continues to heat up, it will be interesting to see which search engine will come out on top. Microsoft has surged ahead and Google is now trying to strengthen its hold on its pole position in the search market.

For marketers, it would be easy to panic about Project Magi and what it might mean for search. (After all, panic seems to be the default reaction to this AI revolution we’re seeing.)

BUT — I urge you to put aside panic and instead think of all this change in terms of opportunity. There will soon be more opportunities than ever to reach out to customers in a more personalized way. SEO content will still be important, but we’ll have to pivot a bit to navigate the turning tide.

Ready to start transitioning to the new normal? Start by letting Content at Scale help you write and produce exceptional content… at scale. 🎉

Written by Julia McCoy

See more from Julia McCoy
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