Change is coming. Again. First mentioned in a New York Times article in April 2023, Google Project Magi is the most significant change to the search giant in more than a decade. Despite continuous algorithm updates, Google Magi promises extensive redevelopment with a short timeline to launch.
Organic and paid search are a significant part of Bamboo’s repertoire. This article examines rapidly changing AI advancements, and the specific changes Google Project Magi will bring to search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC).
We will forever remember 30 November 2022 as the day search changed forever. ChatGPT’s launch sparked a wave of innovation from search giants such as Microsoft Bing and Google. Since then, Microsoft Bing announced its AI-powered search engine, Google launched ‘Bard’, and now, Google Project Magi is in development and initial test phases.
AI developments significantly impact the way people search and receive information. ChatGPT’s launch was received with much fanfare but since has been shadowed by challenges to its protection of intellectual property, issues with disinformation and various other problems. In fact, Italy has banned it, US Congress debated its impact on humanity, and educational institutions have forbidden its use.
With all the issues surrounding large language models (LLMs), how will Google’s latest initiative, Google Project Magi, be received? Only time will tell.
What is Google Project Magi?
In the first few months since its launch, the number of users choosing ChatGPT over top search engines skyrocketed. Google knew it had to do something to counter the number of users selecting the AI-powered LLM over their product. While Google does have a like-for-like alternative to ChatGPT, Google Bard, it sought to incorporate AI into its primary product – the search engine.
While Google Project Magi is still considered ‘under internal development’, we know a bit about what to expect from the coming changes.
Key features of Google Project Magi
- Conversational, chat-like interface – Google has learned that users hate trying to find the answer to their questions by sifting through hundreds of keywords. Conversational search enables them to ask the question and receive an appropriate solution in a fraction of the time.
- Enhanced user experience – Instead of lists of search results that may not pertain to your query, Google Project Magi will personalise search results based on a user’s preferences and behaviour.
- Transactional search – Probably one of the more ground-breaking developments, Google Project Magi will allow users to purchase products from within the search engine interface. This means users won’t need to visit a company’s website. Great news for shoppers, but not for eCommerce companies who want to capitalise on upsells or build brand loyalty.
- PPC ads – Ads will still appear in search results, but many changes are expected for this channel, including:
- A move away from keywords to search queries
- More emphasis placed on transactional ads
- Ongoing development – The initial launch will only be the first iteration of Google’s new search platform. Google has stated that while launching Project Magi rather quickly, the team will continue developing it over time.
How will Project Magi impact SEO?
Since businesses first began optimising for search engines, the emphasis was always around having the right keywords, the proper density and ensuring you cover long-tail keywords. Google Magi is changing all that. With its focus on directly answering search queries and user personalisation, a massive change is coming.
As SEO champions, we already knew that content that included questions and answers historically performed better than those written explicitly with a keyword in mind. Going forward, businesses will need to use question and answer-style content to have a higher propensity to appear in search engine results pages (SERPS).
With the launch of Google Magi, we expect significant drops in traffic across all or most websites that haven’t started preparing for what’s to come. While this may seem like bad news, the personalisation and conversational style of the new search engine may bring in more users. More users equal more website traffic – eventually.
Additional SEO impacts
Conversational search isn’t the only significant change coming to the search engine. These are the additional impacts we expect to see over the coming months:
- Fewer results shown – The revamped user interface (UI) will show 25 – 30% fewer search results, meaning being on the first page and particularly in the top five will be crucial.
- Less focus on metadata, more focus on content – While meta titles and descriptions will still be vital for the initial search result, the content on the page will be the higher-ranking factor. Ensuring you directly answer search queries will be key to ranking higher than your competitors.
- Meeting EEAT will be vital – Google’s EEAT guidelines have been in place for a while now, and businesses should have been referring to them when planning and publishing content. Learn more about EEAT and why it’s essential to ranking in our recent blog.
- More accommodation for voice search – With more focus on conversational-style search queries, there will be a renewed focus on aligning with voice search. With Google Magi’s changes, users will be more likely to use assistants like Alexa to search for products and information – making your website voice search-friendly will be essential.
How will Project Magi impact PPC?
PPC, as we know it, is changing. For years, companies have relied on PPC as an easy way to drive traffic to their website. For companies who’ve continued to rely on this, it’s imperative to understand that click-based marketing is experiencing dramatic changes.
Google Magi is bringing significant changes to the PPC landscape, including:
Different pricing architecture
For as long as we can remember, PPC has been priced based on a cost-per-click model. With Google Magi, this will change to a cost-per-action (CPA) model. A CPA model is great for eCommerce companies – where your ultimate goal is a purchase. For other industries, it may not be so straightforward.
If you’re not an eCommerce company, you’ll need to adapt to make the most out of your ads. This may include:
- Changing your ads to be more specific about the action you want the user to take
- Optimising bespoke landing pages to convert more from the traffic driven by PPC
Pivot away from keywords to user-focused content
Keywords have been the cornerstone of PPC since its foundation. While they’ll still be useful, we will need to use them in a way that answers users’ specific queries, such as:
- What is the best product/service to use for [requirement]?
- How will this product/platform/service work in my industry?
From now on, thought leadership and informative, educational content will be vital components of a successful PPC marketing strategy. While we’re only at the formative stages of Google Magi, we can see the lines between SEO and PPC getting thinner by the day.
How can I prepare for Google Project Magi?
From what we can tell, there isn’t a long runup to the release of Google Project Magi. In May 2023, it was initially launched to 1 million users in the United States and will have a staggered release across the US and then globally.
For the UK, marketers should intend to prepare by Q4 since there is no clear launch date – and no one wants to be on the back foot when it does arrive. At Bamboo, being proactive is the path to success. Here are the steps we’re taking to prepare for Google Project Magi:
- Start shifting away from keyword-focused text to user-focused content. If you’re not already personalising content for your audience, now is the time to begin. Find out the most common questions your customers or prospects ask about your product or service. Include those questions in your content and answer them in a conversational tone.
- Write your content with Google’s EEAT in mind. It isn’t about accommodating search engines but building trust and authority in your industry. This can include:
- Updating author bios to include expertise and experience
- Adding awards or links to reputable organisations
- Building a strong backlink profile
- Raising your domain authority score
For PPC, the preparation needed could be clearer. Transactional search’s rise will impact other industries far more than it would eCommerce businesses. We’re preparing by:
- A/B testing new ads featuring conversational copy instead of being heavily keyword focused
- Optimising bespoke web pages to answer specific user queries while also having a clear call to action
- Refining what we want users to do from the PPC ad to ensure we’re optimising for CPA versus CPC – In some cases, this may be for downloads, clicks to specific product pages or as lead generation.
It is vitally important to keep an eye on your PPC budgets as the changes take place. Nothing is worse than a surprise bill for SEMs with a limited advertising budget.
Get ready for Project Magi with Bamboo
Digital marketing can be a minefield filled with algorithm changes, competitor analyses and technical requirements. Partnering with a team of digital marketing specialists can help your business meet its goals, giving you time to focus on growing your business.
Get in touch to discuss your business’s unique requirements today.