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Google's Project Magi: Reinventing search with A.I. to outpace Bing, ChatGPT

Wednesday, April 19, 2023
April 17, 2023
Tyler Einberger
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6 minutes

Google Fights to Retain Search Dominance with AI-Driven 'Project Magi' Amid Rising Competition

As the race to capture the AI-driven search market accelerates, Google finds itself at a crossroads. With over 50% of Alphabet Inc.'s revenue coming from search advertising in Q4 2022[1], the tech giant is simultaneously upgrading its existing search engine with AI features and pushing to create an all-new search engine powered by AI, known as Project Magi.[2] This move comes amid rising competition from Microsoft's Bing and ChatGPT's release of plug-ins that allow users to complete online tasks.

The company's recent "Code Red" reports[3] indicate that Google is working to rebuild search and lean more heavily into its AI capabilities to hold onto its market share. In fact, Samsung is considering replacing its device's default search engine to Microsoft Bing instead of Google.[2] To address this, Google is exploring two paths: upgrading its existing search engine with AI features and creating an all-new AI-powered search engine, Project Magi.

Key Takeaways: Project Magi to Change Google Search with AI-Powered Chat Interface & Transactions

  • Transactions enabled on Google search, e.g. booking flights directly
  • Public release for 1 million U.S. citizens in May 2023
  • Gradual user increase to 30 million users by the end of 2023
  • 160 Google engineers are working on Project Magi
  • Google will feature a chat-like interface similar to ChatGPT
  • Replacing traditional 10-results-per-page SERPs with intelligent chatbot providing instant answers

Project Magi: Google's Reluctant Step Toward AI-Powered Search

Google's Project Magi aims to revitalize the search engine landscape by incorporating generative AI technology (via LaMDA) into both its existing search engine and an all-new search platform. Project Magi seeks to provide users with a more personalized search experience that anticipates their needs and learns from their search behavior.

160 Google engineers are working on the new search engine, and it will be a more conversational and user-friendly platform that offers preselected options for objects to buy, information to research, and other relevant content. Despite previous attempts at personalizing search results that proved less beneficial to users, Google is now motivated to reimagine the search experience as it faces increasing competition from Microsoft Bing and other market players.

In addition to the development of the new search engine, Project Magi focuses on enhancing Google's existing search platform by allowing users to complete transactions such as purchasing products or booking flights. This integration of financial transactions will continue to incorporate Google search ads, further protecting its revenue streams.

<div class="post-note">What we're excited about: We think on-SERP optimization opportunities are going to be more plentiful.</div>

Other potentially innovative features under Project Magi include answering questions about software coding, generating images in Google Image results using AI, teaching users new languages through open-ended AI text conversations, and enabling users to ask chatbot questions while surfing the web through Google's Chrome browser (similar to Bing's Co-Pilot).

As the search landscape undergoes rapid changes, it remains to be seen how Project Magi will impact search ads, SEO, and other forms of digital marketing in the coming months. Google's push to incorporate AI into its search engine underscores the company's determination to stay first in search market share.

Google's Project Magi in Context

The announcement of Google's Project Magi comes at a time when major tech companies are rapidly advancing AI capabilities and integration. On February 6, 2023, Google CEO Sundar Pichai introduced Bard, an experimental conversational AI service powered by LaMDA, with plans to make it available to trusted testers before a broader public release.[4] Just a day later, Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President & Consumer Chief Marketing Officer at Bing, announced an all-new AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, signaling increased competition in the AI-driven search market.[5]

By April 10, 2023, autonomous AI workers known as AutoGPT and BabyAGI were trending on Twitter[6], claiming to complete tasks with minimal human input. As the US government contemplated regulatory measures for AI technologies, Amazon threw its hat into the ring with new cloud tools that will allow businesses to leverage autonomous AI.[7]

On April 16, 2023, the New York Times reported on Google's ambitious plans for Project Magi, which aimed to reimagine search using AI. That same day, Google's Senior Vice President for Technology and Society, James Manyika, discussed the company's AI system that managed to teach itself Bengali without any prior training in the language.[2]

As Google unveiled Project Magi on April 17, 2023, as a competitor to ChatGPT and the new Bing, Twitter rumors swirled about the possibility of replacing the traditional SERP with Magi, featuring a chat-like interface akin to ChatGPT. This flurry of AI advancements from major tech players underscores the high stakes and rapid pace of development in the AI landscape, with the search experience at the center of the race.

<div class="post-note-cute">SEO is not dead—it's evolving 🙂</div>

The first mockup of Project Magi in Google Search Results showing ChatGPT-like capabilities within search results.
The first mockup of Project Magi in Google Search Results | Source: @DataChaz, via Twitter

Embracing the Future of Marketing, SEO, and AI-driven Search

The rapid advancement of AI technologies presents both challenges and opportunities for marketing and SEO professionals as we navigate this evolving landscape. AI will reshape the search experience, and marketers must adapt  to communicate and deliver value to our audiences.

Key factors to consider for the future of marketing, SEO, and AI-driven search include:

  1. User experience and creator-driven content: Prioritizing user experience and creating E-E-A-T, creator-driven content will be essential as AI-driven search and chat systems become more reliable.
  2. Ethical and responsible AI usage: Accuracy, accountability, and transparency so the use of AI in marketing serves our audiences effectively. We don't want AI integrations to become an over-optimized channel.
  3. Adapting to regulatory frameworks: Governments and international organizations are likely to establish comprehensive regulations for AI technologies. Staying informed and compliant with these frameworks will be crucial for marketers and SEO professionals.
  4. Evolving SEO strategies: As AI transforms search experiences, the role of SEO may shift towards "Search Experience Optimization," emphasizing a people-first approach that has always been at the heart of Momentic SEO campaigns.
  5. Continuous learning and adaptation: Embracing AI-driven changes in how people find information, order products, and book services will require ongoing learning, testing, and adaptation of marketing and SEO strategies to ensure a positive ROI for clients and satisfaction for our audiences.

Google Search Advocate, John Mueller gave some thoughts via a Twitter response, "Making a technically good, easily findable, well-targeted, high-quality website will continue to be critical for those who want to be recommended on the web. Yes, things will change, they always do, but the need for smart, experienced, and curious SEOs  is imo not going away."

@johnmu tweet that reads: "Making a technically good, easily findable, well-targeted, high-quality website will continue to be critical for those who want to be recommended on the web. Yes, things will change, they always do, but the need for smart, experienced, and curious SEOs  is imo not going away."
Source: @JohnMu via Twitter

In an April 16, 2023 appearance on 60 Minutes, Google CEO Sundar Pichai discussed Bard, AI in search, and AI in society. Pichai expressed his excitement about the potential of AI-driven technology to revolutionize various aspects of our lives, including SEO and digital marketing. However, he also emphasized the need to approach AI with humility and a sense of responsibility. By adopting a measured approach, Pichai believes that we can harness the power of AI while addressing potential challenges and ensuring a positive impact on society.

Put People First in Your Campaigns

At Momentic, we will continue to optimize for people first to drive scalable and sustainable success in the this new digital landscape.

<div class="post-alert"><p>Momentic helps you stay ahead of the curve, elevate your marketing, and refresh your SEO efforts. We help clients adapt to and excel in the evolving digital landscape. <p>Set up a consultation with us today to discover how we can optimize your brand's search experience together!</p></div>


  1. Alphabet Inc. []. (2023). Alphabet Announces Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2022 Results. Alphabet Inc.
  2. Grant, N. (2023, April 16). Google Devising Radical Search Changes to Beat Back AI Rivals. The New York Times.
  3. Phelan, D. (2023, January 23). How ChatGPT Suddenly Became Google’s Code Red, Prompting Return Of Page And Brin. Forbes.
  4. Pichai, S. (2023, February 6). An important next step on our AI journey. Google.
  5. Mehdi, Y. (2023, February 22). Reinventing search with a new AI-powered Microsoft Bing and Edge, your copilot for the web. The Official Microsoft Blog.
  6. Kahn, J. (2023, April 16). BabyAGI is taking Silicon Valley by storm. Should we be scared? Fortune.
  7. AWS. (2023) Announcing New Tools for Building with Generative AI on AWS. (2023, April 17). Amazon Web Services.
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