It seems that everybody’s “Googling” these days—but are you “Cuiling” yet? Cuil (pronounced “cool”) is a new search engine developed by former Google engineer and search architect Anna Patterson and her husband Tom Costello (a former search engine builder for IBM and Stanford University.) Together with fellow ex-Googler Russell Power, this small but formidable team of brilliant search minds are shaking things up with their upstart search engine. Many prominent SEO industry gurus, including Danny Sullivan, have speculated that Cuil may actually present a real challenge Google’s throne.
Earlier this week, Cuil’s loudly-trumpeted launch commanded the immediate attention of the search marketing industry with its bold claim of being “the biggest search engine on the Web” with over 120 billion Web pages indexed (supposedly three times more than Google indexes). Combine this with the engine’s unique methodology for organizing its results and transparent privacy policies and its easy to understand why Cuil has piqued everyone’s interests. Sullivan notes that Google’s pre-emptive blog post last Friday about the size of the Web, proves that Google was closely watching Cuil’s moves, and therefore so should we.
Is Cuil living up to the hype?
Like everyone else, the team at Web Ad.vantage is curious. Is Cuil really scouring three times as many pages as Google? We thought we’d run some basic test searches to find out:
- The broad term search marketing returned 26,097,542 results in Cuil, and 67,800,000 results in Google. Winner? Google.
- The broad term media buying returned 119,686 results in Cuil, and 8,510,000 results in Google. Winner? Google.
- The broad term SEO returned 64,639,623 results in Cuil, and 248,000,000 results in Google. Winner? Google.
- The exact term “search marketing” (with quotes) returned 26,097,542 results in Cuil, and 8,300,000 results in Google.As expected, Google returned a much smaller subset of results when quotes were used, but Cuil’s number of results remained unchanged, leaving us to wonder if Cuil is even capable of searching for exact matches. Winner? Google again.
A week past its launch, Cuil’s reviews have been mixed. While many users have recognized Cuil’s potential and praised its unique offerings, it seems the majority were left feeling underwhelmed, or outright disappointed with Cuil’s search results, like those reported above.
Cuil still working out the bugs…
Of course, it didn’t help that Cuil’s servers, overwhelmed by curious searchers, buckled under the pressure of processing so many initial requests. The search engine launched Monday with major stability issues that appear to still need ironing out as its first week comes to a close, which has left many wondering if the engine launched a bit too early. It’s not clear whether Cuil’s shaky servers were the cause of so many disappointing searches and 404 errors on its first day. Many users (including us) had to try our searches several times before Cuil would yield any results. There’s also the annoying issue of images not displaying properly alongside their associated results, and results pages that sometimes disappear when clicking through the numbered page links.
Technical challenges and obligatory comparisons to Google have led many sites to criticize, or worse, completely ignore Cuil this week. But is it fair to expect Cuil to run perfectly its first week of launch? After all, Cuil was built from the ground up. It didn’t borrow from or improve on an existing search engine, like Google’s transformation of AltaVista.
Cuil’s Cool Features
Yet Cuil is not without its virtues, either. An altogether different search experience, Cuil aims to compile results based more on relevancy than popularity. “Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency,” Cuil says on its website.
Users are presented with a unique magazine-style layout of results that include thumbnail images from each result’s page content.
One of the coolest features of Cuil is the ability to drill down your search results to find related topics and subjects. The “Explore by Category” box is both helpful and intuitive
So have the days of “Cuiling it” instead of “Googling it” arrived? In all likelihood, probably not, but we do think Cuil is a search engine to watch. When Cuil overcomes some of its technical challenges and tightens up the dependability of its results, perhaps Cuil and Google will peacefully coexist.Comments Off
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