Project Magi: Google Search Powered By Generative AI Unveiled
By: Dileep Thekkethil
Updated On: May 11, 2023
The tech world is buzzing, and for good reason. Google has just revealed a preview of its new AI-based search engine experience which it calls Project Magi. It’s a big step forward, a peek into what the future of searching could look like.
Why Does Google Consider AI Transition Inevitable?
This time of year always brings a rush of energy and excitement as tech companies gear up to announce their most significant updates and launches. Both OpenAI and Bing have already stirred the pot, changing our understanding of what AI can do. These developments put the spotlight on Google, fueling the expectation for a rapid response.
And respond they did, but not without a few bumps in the road. Google’s decision to launch BARD, their version of the AI, quickly grabbed headlines. However, not all of the attention was positive. Missteps led to a hit on Alphabet’s stocks, and Google’s PR team found themselves working overtime to explain that a Beta version isn’t meant to be flawless.
The expectations around BARD were intensified by the success of ChatGPT, which had launched earlier and generated a wave of admiration. People were intrigued by this lesser-known company delivering such an innovative AI technology, and as a result, they raised their expectations for Google. Some even went so far as to say that BARD was merely an inferior copy of ChatGPT.
But for those familiar with Google’s history and depth of research, it’s clear that this tech giant should not be underestimated. Google’s extensive access to information, along with decades of research into natural Language Learning Models, Machine Learning, and Neural Engineering, sets it apart from the rest.
Featured Announcements of Google IO 2023
Google’s IO 2023 event showcased several new features and innovations. But if you read between the lines, the real star of the show was AI.
Google is signaling a future where AI is integrated into every part of their ecosystem: from Pixel Phones, Google Photos, and Google Maps to Google Workspace and, most significantly for SEOs, the new Google Search Experience. The message was clear – Google is charging full speed ahead into an AI-driven future.When the New York Times revealed Google is working on Project Magi, we knew the search experience was about to undergo a massive overhaul. We saw that happening with Bing and even the Microsoft owned browser Edge, both now seeing an increase in the number of active users.
New Generative AI-Based Search Results
We knew Project Magi would be offering a more immersive search experience and looks like we are right. The experience overview shared during Google IO 2023 shows a dynamic AI answer box just on top of the traditional search results.
Yes. You heard that right, looking at the demo, I feel, the featured snippet section will say goodbye when Magi is out of the beta as AI generated answers will popup and replace it. The result of this could mean more number of zero click results. So, if you are a website owner who majorly provides informational content, this may impact your click through rate.
Thinking why? If Google is providing the answers to the search query within the search results, there is no reason for them to click on the traditional 10 blue results it shows.
Furthermore, if the user isn’t happy with the AI generated answer, they can expand the AI Answer box which will break down the sources from which the AI generated the answers.
Google is of course displaying attribution links like what it used to do with the featured snippets on the right of the AI answer box and also when you decide to dig deeper into the expanded view, which is good, but there is a catch.
They now have a search bar within the AI answer box to dynamically search a follow up question, which means if the user wants additional information, instead of clicking the attribution link, they can just ask Google to show what exactly they are looking for.
On hitting “Ask follow up” question, the users will be taken to a whole new conversational mode wherein the results will be fine tuned to answer the additional question.
What is more interesting is, everything happening within the AI answer box is dynamic, which means the user doesn’t have to wait for another page to load. Everything happens within the same page, inside an interface that changes colors based on the actions you take.
Who Will Benefit from Google’s New Search Interface
For the product industry, the generative AI based search engine may be more of a boon than a bane as the video shows how the AI Answer box displays products within the results.
Also, it provides a snapshot of noteworthy factors to consider before buying a product. Thanks to Google’s expansive shopping graph with more than 35 billion listings.
Interestingly, Google has decided to place its Sponsored listing above the AI answer box, which is understandable as Google doesn’t want Generative AI to cause a dent in its revenue.
How Google Made this Possible
Google is making these changes to the search by utilizing a variety of Language Learning Models (LLMs), including MUM and PaLM2.
Imagine you’re piecing together a puzzle; these LLMs are the pieces Google uses to create a cohesive picture of search results. They’re specifically trained to identify high-quality web results, forming a reliable foundation for the information presented.
But don’t expect Google to have all the answers. Their approach is similar to a cautious driver taking a new car for a spin. They’ll stick to the safer routes at first.
So, while Google might be able to tell you the population of Australia or the director of the latest Marvel movie, it won’t answer questions about administering CBD oil. Much like a cautious driver avoids risky roads, Google is steering clear of YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) categories to keep users safe.
To make this concept more relatable, imagine if you asked your neighbor for medical advice. They might have some knowledge, but they’re not a doctor, and their advice could be harmful so they redirect you to a real doctor. Google, like your sensible neighbor, knows it’s better to direct you to a healthcare professional.
Google’s new search experience emphasizes informative responses corroborated by reliable sources. When dealing with “data voids” or “information gaps” – where Google’s systems have lower confidence in their responses – they aim not to generate an AI-powered snapshot. This is like walking through a forest at night with a flashlight; Google won’t pretend to illuminate the whole path, only the steps it’s confident about.
On explicit or dangerous topics, Google will steer clear of generating a response – similar to how a teacher wouldn’t discuss inappropriate topics in a classroom.
The challenge of fluid vs. factual responses is something Google is again concerned about. People tend to trust answers given in a more conversational style. However, Google is aiming for factual over fluid, as fluid responses can sometimes blur the lines between truth and fiction. It’s a bit like choosing between a captivating storyteller and a dry, factual wiki – Google leans towards the wiki for its reliability.
Where is Google Heading To?
With so much happening, what is it that Google is trying to achieve by incorporating all these changes to the search engine and the results in particular.
Clearing Clutters from Direct Information Access
Picture yourself lost in a forest, following a winding path that seems to lead nowhere. Now, imagine if that path suddenly straightened and led you directly to your destination. That’s what Google aims to do with search. The goal is to reduce the steps it takes for you to find the information you need. For example, instead of clicking through several links to find the best pizza place in your city, Google aims to present this information directly. It’s about streamlining the process, making the experience as smooth and efficient as a high-speed train journey, where you reach your destination in no time.
Zero Compromise on Quality of Information Provided
High-quality information is the heart of a good search experience. Think of it as the difference between a fast-food meal and a gourmet dinner. The AI’s responses should be like the latter, detailed and satisfying, leaving no room for doubt. For instance, if you’re asking for the causes of the French Revolution, Google aims to provide a comprehensive, fact-checked, and reliable response, rather than a vague or inaccurate one.
Caring the Users By Displaying Safe Results
In the same way a lifeguard watches over swimmers to prevent accidents, Google is cautious about the information it provides. Safety is paramount, especially when dealing with sensitive topics related to health, finance, or personal life. It’s like a parent making sure their child doesn’t wander into a busy street; Google wants to ensure the information it provides won’t lead to harmful consequences.
Continuing to Act as a Gateway to Expansive Web
Google doesn’t just want to be a gatekeeper of information; it wants to be a bridge to the wider web. Just like a good tour guide would point out interesting landmarks and tell you more about them, Google aims to connect users to valuable content across the web. By highlighting the sources of information and encouraging users to delve deeper, Google is like a librarian recommending you to check out more books on a topic you’re interested in.
Keeping Ads Intuitive to the Search Experience
Ads can often feel intrusive, but when done right, they can also be helpful. Google’s new approach to ads is akin to a personal shopping assistant who knows your taste and preferences. Instead of bombarding you with irrelevant ads, Google strives to present ads that are tailored to your needs and interests. Say, you’ve been searching for forest trucking gear; Google will show ads for high-quality trucking equipment you can buy, acting more as a helpful assistant than a pushy salesperson.
When Google launched Bard, many were surprised by the lack of citations and links to publishers. It was like a book without a bibliography. However, Google’s search generative experience is turning this around. It’s more like a research paper now, with well-cited sources and links to publishers.
We have just seen a glimpse of what the future of Google Search would look like. Now as SEO professionals, we have to think about ways to utilize these features and new capabilities to the benefit of our clients. But all this doesn’t mean SEO is dead but like what is happening in every industry with the introduction of AI, SEO is evolving.