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SAN FRANCISCO — In her two years at Google, Anna Patterson helped design and build some of the pillars of the company’s search engine, including its large index of Web pages and some of the formulas it uses for ranking search results.
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The makers of the Cuil search engine say it should provide better results and show them in a more attractive manner.
Now, along with her husband, Tom Costello, and a few other Google alumni, she is trying to upstage her former employer.
On Monday, their company, Cuil, is unveiling a search engine that they promise will be more comprehensive than Google’s and that they hope will give its users more relevant results.
This is at best a competition for 'Live' not Google.
- Bad choice in colors
- Bad choice in result layout
- Bad choice in domain (name)
- great interface for offering alternative related terms
- Most important of all...barely ok results (at least for terms that I searched for)
Many of my sites that I tested don't appear to be listed at all, even though they do have sites listed that link to mine. My most popular site doesn't even show up under a search for its name.
If they're claiming they've indexed more pages than Google, where are all these pages?
Repeating an earlier search, I now find they don't have any results.
As it is, I think most people who try this out are going to be disappointed and go right back to Google. I don't think that people are so set in their ways that they wouldn't switch from Google to a better search engine, but, such as it is, Cuil certainly isn't it.
After using it for a few minutes, I was seriously wondering if Cuil was some kind of joke. Seriously. It's that bad.
This is a joke, right?
Maybe, maybe not.
Imagine a scenario where a big search engine who wants to put their current virtual monopoly into concrete. They already closed a deal with their biggest competitor, leaving the disappointing third market participant with very little chances to ever pull over.
Their real threat comes from startup companies. Small, young, fresh, hungry, bright teams that create a PR blitz and quickly take over the market. This is very very dangerous for the market leader.
Now imagine further that someone somewhere at the market leader figures out a plan to prevent this from hapening. You take a bunch of (ex-) employees, hand over some cash, create said PR blitz, and deliver - crap. Upon launch day, the site shows mistakes anyone with a basic understanding of this market would have avoided (e.g. missing about page). It's an immediate and massive failure.
<devilish smile> Now, how likely is it, that the media will write about the next startup to threaten that market leader?
Don't underestimate the people behind this technology and what they just may do.
I suspect the people behind this technology are underestimating the people behind search engine optimization techniques what they just may do. :)
I think it will be too easy to manipulate the results. I can kind of see how it could be done already after just looking at a few searches. With Google focusing on links from authoritative sites, it raises the barrier to entry, especially for competitive terms, and keeps out some of the riff-raff.
I entered the topic for one of my sites and somebody else's picture showed up. Where are they getting the images from?
There are definately bugs this morning. For a major keyword ... no results.
For one of my sites, and unknown graphic beside the result.
Then for a couple of other 3 word searches -- using generalized and extremely popular words -- I get no results at all.
BUT ... I love the interface and am more than willing to cut them a LOT of slack as they get up to speed over the coming weeks.
My one hope is that Microsoft does not turn their attention to this startup, now that Y has spurned their overtures. For the first time in years I am hopeful that a new player may have entered the stage with some real possibility. Keeping my fingers crossed...
Then I ran a query for a tourist town I used to live in in the USA and got back all hotels and none of the numerous sites dedicated to information about the town. I am very familiar with the web sites devoted to the town's rich history, and they were all missing from the results. Very bad.
I also ran a query on a purely informational phrase for a specific French design pattern, and all I got back were sites whose product names contained the phrase (from jewelry to a pizza shop to a girls' camp--plus some SPAM keyword-stuffed results). Zero results that actually had any information on the subject I entered. On top of that, all of the categories in the "Explore by Category" had nothing to do with my query.
In some other queries I ran, I saw that some widely popular, credible sites were completely missing from the results.
I tried running some heavily commercial queries and got back spam sites. No big name sites in the list.
I was hopeful, but it failed miserably. I also agree that the name choice is awful.
I find it very bizarre that this is getting any hype at all...
I also find it entertaining the few new posters (1 post total) that popup on this thread and support it...
but they clearly have something here.
Microsoft Live has something... Ask has something... they all have something. But this is just bad...
they clearly have something here
What they still "have" is my photos slapped onto results for other sites - for one term (and I've checked only around five), eight of the top 20 results accompanied by my photos; and - sob! - my sites not among them.
They may have kissed the blarney stone as far as getting publicity goes [come on, using old Irish word for knowledge that most folk can't even pronounce - pretentious or what?]; but search engine quality suggests they need to go back to scuil.
I like the descriptions and all. It would be a different kind of search.
It's about impossible to explore right now but after the crowds get tired of trying it maybe it will be OK. It's finding "no results" for common search terms so I think it's just overwhelmed with visitors.
Images are unrelated/taken from other websites. They seem to just map image title to KW phrase - which will lead to all sorts of legal and spam issues.
Needs a new spam filter. Needs a way to separate splogs from content. Needs to realize that 2 sentences of content with SEO does not make for valid or useful content (unless it is yellow pages or a simple question-answer combo).
Way to go, even if we are not on the first 5-6 pages of either niche, I welcome new competition. Unclean, ugly, bad domain, bad results, but any competition is a good thing.
I'm also getting no results at all for major brand names (even after repeating the search a dozen times and waiting for one to "catch" due to their current load).
So far, so awful.
So, this is just another search product in the many that are out there.
15 results for "mysite.com" all are spam/scraper directories, over half in other languages. My actual site is nowhere to be found.
A search for my #1 keyword term (which I rank #1 or #2 on G, Y and M) says "no results".
Regardless of the reasons, they don't appear to be ready for prime time. Just a alot of PR hype...
And why didn't they make a play for the parked domain cool.com, even if they just re-routed it to their cuil.com domain?
Another case of too much VC funds covering up a serious lack of a business plan?
Cuil IP ranges:
View the... Cuil Bot IPs [cuil.com]
Another case of too much VC funds covering up a serious lack of a business plan?
<sidenote> reminds me of a TV commercial that was on here in the US a while back. A brick and mortar launched a website and they all gathered around the computer waiting to see their first sale get counted. The counter rolled over to one and everyone cheered and shouted and popped champaign. Then the counter TOOK off and started rolling sales into the hundreds of thousands. HAha... everyone stopped hollering and started staring at the computer with looks of fear. :) Maybe that's what's happening here. </sidenote>
[edited by: SEOMike at 5:30 pm (utc) on July 28, 2008]
This is a joke right?
Certainly seems to be - the results are hilarious and the unrelated images are a hoot.
What made me laugh the most was clicking the link to their Webmaster Info page:
Oops! We couldn’t find that page.
Please verify that the URL is correct and try again.
So they couldn't even find a page on their own site that they provided a link for.
In fairness, they did manage it when I tried again later, informing me that:
Jim’s the guy who keeps track of Twiceler, when he’s not busy with his horses.
Insert punchline here.