Google (and the interwebs) to Cuil: Welcome to the big leagues, rook
High powered PR behind a major new web product launch is critical to getting the word out these days. There’s so much competition for attention, so much flat out going on with the interwebs at any given time that a coordinated series of press hits is one of the few ways to get on the radar of other “influencers” and the wider web and real worlds beyond.
But the buzz can only get you so far.
So it was such that I felt mildly compelled to check out Cuil, a new search engine hailed as a potential rival to the almighty Google. The New York Times, for example, glowingly hails Cuil as “a search engine that they promise will be more comprehensive than Googleâ€™s and that they hope will give its users more relevant results.”
Let us say that that’s setting the barâ€¦ pretty high.
My first experience with Cuil was that the homepage failed to load after a full minute. The second attempt yielded an actual front page. I typed in a search term or two, decided that Google was pretty much superior at this point, and left it at that.
Here’s a smattering of early reviews:
* The Inquirer: “Cuil’s first day in the search engine playground turned out to be a disaster.”
* Webware: “Google challenger Cuil launched last night in blaze of glory. And it went down in a ball of flames. Immediately after launch, the criticism started to pile on: results were incomplete, weird, and missing.”
* RexBlog: “Cuil is not going to be a go-to source for people who want to find information about other people â€” or themselves.”
Let’s assume that Cuil quickly gets its performance issues stabilized. Okay, great. They then claim to have a kajillion (my term, mind) web pages indexed and ready to roll. Awesome.
A major problem from the first is that it’s not delivering simple search results in a way that the searcher would expect. For example, searching for “online media cultist” will get you to some archived pages of Online Media Cultist but the main site URL is not listed on the first page of search results. Not good. In other cases, instead of delivering the front page of a site, the Wikipedia page is delivered as a top search result instead.
Further, the three column design for search results is interesting but not very easy to scan through. For better or worse, Google has trained us in what we want search engines to be.
Now, searching for something very generic, like “new york city,” will yield more interesting results, as well as tabs that will take you all kinds of related information, such as NYC hotels, ballet, and the subway system. This leads me to believe that Cuil is sort of going after Mahalo’s guide pages, except with more of an automated approach.
The great thing about the web is that you have the opportunity to keep hacking away at your product until you get it rightâ€¦ or run out of funding!
When the buzz dies down, it will be interesting to see if Cuil can manage to stay on anyone’s radar.