Cuil Search Engine Takes on Google

July 28th, 2008 at 12:00 am

Any search engine will sooner or later have to deal with Google. Google’s undisputed domination over the search market is what any search startup will have to face. Any startup in the search market will be compared and pitted against Google and judgement will be passed after that. So far, no one has come close and mostly all new search engines come up with ways to avoid the G phenomenon as if it were poison, some go into verticals, some qualify themselves as semantic search or whatever else kinds there are.

So, Google still dominates. How do you beat Google? Microsoft’s idea, is to go in to semantic search (by acquiring Powerset) but that hasn’t proven to be any good (yet, at least). Yahoo, instead of fighting Google took the arguably road less travelled by, join them.

I think it was in the Art of War, where it said, "the best way to destroy your enemy is from within" or something like that. This is exactly what the newly launched Cuil (pronounced "cool") search engine is trying to do. How? By using ex-Google executives.

Cuil launched Sunday evening after quite a while in stealth mode. It’s basically a search engine, a general purpose search engine much like Google is and in that respect tales on Google head on. Its founders are Anna Patterson, Tom Costello and Russell Power. Patterson and Power are ex-Google executives and Castello is a Stanford Professor (married to Patterson). Furthermore, the Cuil team is also made up of mostly ex-Googlers.

The founders are one thing, and the technology is another. Cuil claims that their method of indexing and crawling is an improvement on Google’s (but we can’t quantify nor prove this). They describe it in their Press Release, "The search engine goes beyond today’s search techniques of link analysis and traffic ranking to analyze the context of each page and the concepts behind each query. It then organizes similar search results into groups and sorts them by category."

On paper, this all sounds good. Actually it sounds great and better than Google, but for now, it ends there. Cuil may provide a different approach in presenting search results by giving a more detailed description of the links it has found and categorizing queries in a contextual manner, but this is not (yet) enough to prove themselves better than Google.

On its own, Cuil is a nice search engine. They claim to have indexed 120 billion plus web pages, more than any other search engine. They also claim that their crawlers are the fastest. This may all be true but results shown by Cuil aren’t quite what many expect. Many say that Cuil’s results aren’t as relevant as Google’s, however, the relevance may mean different things for the two search engines.

For now, it’s too early to say if Cuil will indeed make an impact on Google’s dominance, or if Cuil will last at all. But looking at it and what it can do, they seem to have a fighting chance. In the meantime, they just need to get some traction and when they do get going at full steam with expansions and upgrades, then we’ll see if they could take on Google.