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Project Magi – Google’s Creating a New Search Engine

Google kickstarted project Magi after learning that smartphone giant Samsung was considering a switch over to Bing as the default search engine for their handsets, following Bings (who are owned by Microsoft) plans to integrate the hugely popular tool ChatGPT into their search engine.

According to reports, this caused panic within Google as their largest competitor Bing was gaining an advantage over them by integrating an AI chatbot – this not only threatened Google’s contract with Samsung which is worth $3 billion but also Google’s dominance over the search engine industry. Hence why the giant began drawing up plans for their own AI integrated search engine.

What is project Magi?

You don’t have to worry about the search engine that we’re all used to going away. Project Magi isn’t a brand-new Google search engine; it’s just Google search with AI features incorporated into it. The aim of Project Magi is to provide a more personalised experience to Google’s search engine users with the AI learning more about your search intent in order to provide you with results that better suit what you’re looking for.

According to leaked internal documents (as reported by the NY Times), there’s a possibility that one of the new additions would be the ability to answer questions about coding languages and even the ability to write specific code upon request from the user. Google is expected to release these new tools in May 2023. The release will be staggered with only 1 million users in the USA initially being able to use these new features. If successful, this number will likely grow to over 30 million by the end of the year. 

Plans to build a brand new search engine powered solely by AI technology are also underway. The new AI powered Google search engine would become more like a conversion with a helpful person – one who would provide you with lists of resources to check out, other relevant information that you may want to research and suggested items to buy.

Why is Google doing this?

According to the New York Times, the unveiling of OpenAI’s chatbot called ChatGPT last November led to widespread panic within Google. OpenAI works closely with Microsoft (they have a 46% stake in OpenAI) who plan to integrate the AI software into their search engine Bing – this combined with the rapid growth of ChatGPT which had more than 100 million users within the first two months (allowing it to easily claim its spot as the fastest growing app of all time) led to fears about Bing gaining significant market share at Google’s expense, and as such, something had to be done to compete with their plans. 

This quick change in direction from Google was quite shocking to many as Google’s AI research centre DeepMind has been a pioneer for large language models (such as those which power AI chatbots), robotics and even self-driving cars. Google has used DeepMind’s large language models to improve its search engine algorithms but has never taken the full leap into an AI powered search engine. This was because chatbots powered by large language models were and continue to be prone to generating biased or false statements and often lack knowledge of recent events.

Product transactions on Google 

Another new feature coming to Google is that product transactions are going to be handled on Google directly with no need for the user to head to another website to purchase the product. For example, if you’re after a new T-shirt, instead of clicking on the product displayed on Google to then be taken to the site that the product is on, you will instead be able to select the size and purchase it with the click of a button whilst still on the Google results page. 

How will this affect SEO & PPC?

Well, it’s great news for PPC – the ability to purchase items directly from the results page means that there is one less step for your potential customer to make during the process, which should mean that they may find it easier to make that purchase. Plus, since ads make up the vast majority of Google’s revenue, they aren’t going anywhere. Ads will still be featured after the implementation of Project Magi and also on the new search engine that Google is building.

In regards to SEO, it’s a lot harder to say how it’s going to be affected. The likelihood is that overall, there won’t be much of an impact as the new AI implementations will likely work similarly to the featured snippets, where Google will present the user with an answer to their query at the top of the page along with a link to your website. Although this may take clicks away from your site, it presents you with an opportunity to have your content shown above the first organic post, and if it’s good enough, people will click through to learn more.

It’s also likely that the top 1-3 positions on the SERPs are going to be more valuable than ever if Google is going to push more features and/or ads at the top of the page, as this will push the results currently at the bottom of page one into the dark abscess that is page 2. 

How should marketers prepare?

It’s hard to say at this moment in time but just as marketers had to learn about featured snippets and how to optimise their content to be featured in those spots, we will have to adapt, test and optimise our processes for dealing with AI integrations when they roll out. For UK SEOs and marketers, this is something you likely won’t have to worry about for another year or so as project Magi is going to be rolled out in the USA first. 

Final Thoughts

As it often happens in SEO, there is a lot of panic when new changes roll out and businesses will be either negatively or positively affected by these in the short term before the search results stabilise. However, if you produce high quality content which provides users with genuine value, you demonstrate expertise around a topic and you have developed topical authority, the stormy waters ahead will be a lot calmer than you may initially think. 

However, for businesses who are struggling with getting their SEO strategy right and have low visibility on Google, these rollouts may make your visibility even worse. If the latter sounds like a position that is all too familiar to you, consider reaching out to see how we can help you turn your SEO around and place your site in the best possible position to take advantage of what’s just over the horizon for search engines.