Cuil Search Needs Time, Users to Fight Google

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-07-29 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cuil search works well once you get in, but the search engine needs a lot of love and nurturing from users for it to have a chance to compete with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Give it a shot, but realize that Cuil search is a work in progress.

Yesterday I had a devil of a time accessing new search engine Cuil from my laptop in a Manhattan office.

I assure you the location of the connection was not the issue because I was able to access Google, Bloglines and all of my usual applications from there.

I then tried Cuil last evening from home and was able to get in. I'm trying it right now, July 29, in my home office and got in after 15 seconds of waiting. I've played with it enough, so the following is what I think.

First, I, like everyone else, have found that Cuil produces fewer results for searchers. Search "The Dark Knight" on Cuil and I get almost 1.2 million results, compared with 34.7 million for Google.

The endless examples of Google producing more results don't really matter. People are making too much of this. Most searchers don't look much beyond the first 10 or 20 results anyway, so why are we considering the fact that Cuil returns millions fewer results a big deal? It isn't. This is a trivial concern, so please don't judge Cuil poorly because it offers fewer results.

Now it is for users to decide whether Cuil is returning the right results for them.

Here is what I think you should judge Cuil on: For most searches it works and works well, and it does not resemble a search engine beyond the first page. This gives users a unique experience that might be a little disruptive at first. When you enter a query, you get results the way you see written content from a modern Web site. Other bloggers called this design "magazine style."

I'll be the first to admit that this irked me initially.

I wanted plain old search results, not pieces of content with pictures and whole-paragraph synopses of what the search result contains. But then an interesting thing happened. After I kept coming back for more searches, I not only got used to it, but got to like the aesthetics of the Cuil content.

It took about 20 searches to get used to it because my eye is so trained in traditional search engine fashion to look straight down the page, rather than left to right. Did anyone else experience this, or do you still find Cuil's results pages grating on your eyes?

The autocomplete feature flat-out rocks. After typing "The Dark" en route to typing in "The Dark Knight," I was treated to 11 choices. The first five choices were The Darkness, The Dark Side, The Dark Tower, The Dark Crystal and then The Dark Knight.

Also, while commenters are complaining about search quality, I fully expected to see the official Warner Brothers Web site for "The Dark Knight" on Cuil and Google.




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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