Cuil: First Look

It’s been a while since somebody challenged Google at it’s game. Cuil was launched a couple of days back and it has everybody pouncing upon it. For the first few hours the servers were down owing to the exponential increase in search load. Bloggers are in a hurry to get their reviews out on the latest Google-Killer. While the industry response has been pretty balanced, some have gone for the jugular. A majority though prefer the wait-and-watch approach for there have been many such so-called-google-killers in the past and Cuil is no different. The only reason Cuil is generating so much interest is because the people behind it are xooglers(ex-Googlers).

The Cuil home pageCuil has search appliances that are specialized to cater to a subcategory of results. So you will have a Cuil machine for movies, one for sports, one for medicine etc etc. Now if any of these Cuil machines get overloaded, they momentarily go offline and the machines left online return less-than-relevant results. Seperate machines? Smart, lekin irrelevant results? not-so-smart! The way Cuil indexes pages is also slightly old fashioned. While Google ranks them based on popularity and number of links pointing to it(pagerank), Cuil more depends on page content. So Cuil looks more on the occurrences of the search term and etc. But that’s the USP of Cuil and they more focus on the drill down features rather than a stack of links. So by displaying results horizontally across the page with more photos Cuil definitely makes good use of web page real estate. The neat feature is the availability of a sidebar that can be clicked to get into on topics related to the content.

General Motors search results on Cuil
Let’s put it to the ‘Dappan Koothu Test’ and see how it performs, but first some feature showcase. To the left is the results page that Cuil returns when searched for ‘General Motors‘ (click it to enlarge). Now it’s a mere coincidence that I searched for my employers and not a show of loyalty. On the top Cuil lines up other possible search results as tabs that are grouped by similar looking keywords. The page rotator at the bottom for Cuil is snazzy, I’m biased for blue and black are my favorite colors. The sidebar feature that I mentioned can be seen to the right. The Cuil sidebar has an accordion feel to it and gives you further information thus enabling you to refine your search. I guess it’s time for some sharp criticism as this review is looking too sweet.

Cuil search results for maxdavinci
Cuil was down for a while when I tried yesterday and that could be to the launch. But then each time I searched I got different results for the same term. Cuil says that no two persons see the same set of results. Fair enough, they localize the results and that could explain it. What explanation could be given to a guy who searches for the same term in a span of minutes? I asked Cuil to give me all the results when searched for ‘maxdavinci‘ and I was pretty disappointed. Well for starters this page ranks 5th and the response was pretty slow. Some of the pages Cuil indexed were deleted long ago and should have been purged from the index. Cuil only had indexed 600 odd pages for my name though it claims to be the biggest search engine and is supposed to have indexed more pages than Google.
Google search results for maxdavinciGoogle however boosted my morale by ranking me #1 and the majority of the links on the first page were mine. Also rather unsurprisingly Google fetched 5 times the number of results that Cuil gave me, So much for their claim. What sort of a name is Cuil, not that Google is a cool name. Google is easier to pronounce but Cuil according to the founder is to be pronounced as ‘Cool’. Allo? I went to a very respectable school and my dad forced me to do Wren & Martin, I also know phonetics okay! Cuil can atmost be pronouned as ‘Keyool’ or ‘Kooyil’ and maybe ‘Kwill’. None of these are even close to ‘Cool’. Let’s finish it of with a list of Ayes and Nays.

Aye:

  • Neat user interface
  • Good use of web page real estate
  • Nice use of my favorite colors
  • Grouping by tabs
  • Accordion sidebar for drill down

Nay:

  • Weird name
  • Poor response time
  • Indexes deleted pages
  • Far lesser pages indexed
  • Irregularity in searches for the same keyword.
  • This blog is #5 and most of my pages are not indexed

Well the Nays beat the Ayes and the Nays have it. While we are at search engines, I’d strongly reccomend a look at SearchMe. In lay man’s terms it comes across as the ‘Fardeen Khan of Search Engines‘. Visually appealing but a total waste of time. If you are a Fardeen fan, you’ll obviously disagree. I however pity you for like your idol even our existence is a total waste of time!