A new search engine has jumped on the scene. http://www.cuil.com (pronounced ‘cool’ ). They claim to have indexed 121,617,892,992 web pages. Cuil claims this is almost three times as many pages as Google has indexed. So, I decided to test it out.
I did a Cuil search on my name, Jeff Bristow. The results are all pages that have something to do with me. (I guess I am the most active Jeff Bristow on the internet) The results ranged from my twitter stream, to my involvement in the Fort Myers for Mike Huckabee Meetup group. However, this website ( thebristows.com ), does not show up in the list. So, my initial reaction is that Cuil may not be as intelligent about finding hits. Google makes a connection with my name, Jeff Bristow, and The Bristows dot COM, likely through linkbacks and meta data.
So, I decided to search for ‘the bristows dot com’. And I got zero hits. Not a single item. So I searched for ‘thebristows.com’. This time I got hits from sites linking to thebristows.com, but thebristows.com still doesn’t show up as a possible site to check out.
I know this isn’t a thorough test of a search engine, but it does show me that their catalog of sites may not be as impressive as they initially make you believe. I think the big difference is that Google may not index every single page that you have, while Cuil is likely indexing everything, which means they show a very impressive amount of indexed pages. But they may not be reaching as many actual websites as Google is. Or they somehow just failed to index thebristows.com, whatever the reason, I am not all too impressed with not finding my main site in their huge index of pages.
On the design side, Cuil is on a black background. A nice contrast with Google, but I am no fan of a dark background on a website. I think that this design will hinder Cuil’s adoption by the masses.
Now, Cuil has a few nice features that are impressive, regardless of my above mentioned items. Cuil has found a new way to display search results that is very handy. Most search engines give you a long list of sites to scroll through once you click search. Cuil places the search results in blocks with a good amount of preview text for each site. This can help the user to determine if they even want to explore a possible search result. And you can control they layout even more by adjusting the number of columns presented on the page. You can choose a 2 or 3 column layout with a simple control at the bottom right of every page.
Another nice feature about Cuil is that you get a category list with your search results. This allows you to refine your search a bit more based on recommended categories of pages based on your search term. When I searched for Jeff Bristow I got options to search for ‘Fictional Secret Agents & Spies’. I thought that was a pretty cool search category. And this was based on some characters having the last name of ‘Bristow’ on shows like Alias.
In Summary: I like Cuil. I think they need to change their homepage so it isn’t so dark. And I think they need to index thebristows.com, but I like what they are doing with the actual layout of the search results. They are on the right track and time will tell if there is really enough room on the web for another search engine to be successful.