Cuil New Search Engine has Webmasters SEO Masters Pretty Hot

Posted by Marty Dickinson on Jul 31, 2008

Maybe it was the anticipation with all the pre-hype. Maybe it was the hope for something better. Mabye some just wished Google would feel some pain (not that they are without challenge anyway). The new Cuil.com search engine (pronounced “cool”) was launched on Monday and all week webmasters and SEO professionals have been in a mad frienzy trying to figure out if Cuil will be the “Google Killer” everyone in the online industry has been waiting for or if it’s just a quick throw-together search system to attract Microsoft to spending a few billion on a new company after a big hit.

Cuil was formed by some former Google employees who helped take Google’s search system to the next level. Classic case of employees getting together and leaving the company to go do their own thing and make a million bucks right? That’s where the questions arose. More on that later. First, check this out…

I’m going to throw my 2 cents into the ring about Cuil. First, let’s use an example to demonstrate what al the fuss is about. If I search Google for one of my websites MusicMates.com which is a national musician referral but based out of Colorado, here’s what I get:

Now let’s take a look at the new Cuil search engine’s results where I also searched for Colorado musician referral. Notice how there are 3 columns results instead of how Google displays only two. That’s actually my first question about Cuil is why they chose three columns? If we’ve been conditioned by all search engines to look in the top left corner for search results, wouldn’t it make sense to just have two column results? And, second, if you have three columns, and I click on one of the three columns, will the most accuarate results be going down the column or across the top? Or, did they figure my Music Mates site has the most focus so, the #1 search result is really in the middle of the page?

The next thing to consider is Cuil’s relevance of search results. Consider the image below where my Music Mates site listing is surrounded by other sites that have links to Music Mates. Now, how could a site that is so well optimized for a state be listed less in relevance than another site linking to it? I mean as a search engine, the whole idea is to showcase the main website that the links point to as the source or, in this case, the online tool.

Then a blowup of the left side of the screen with my MusicMates description in the same spot, just looking at the two left columns below now. How did that “I/disturbing photos” get there? And, how could it be more relavent than my Music Mates posting?

Then, shown to the top is a single musician referral that could arguably be in competition with Music Mates. That’s not a good percentage for Cuil in my opinion.

Now, you might think, okay Marty, so the dudes in the top left beat you out. Stop whining and optimize Music Mates better! Well, when I clicked through that link, here’s what I got. I have no idea where Cuil picked up that “Musician Referral Services” image. It’s nowhere to be found in the site that you get to after the click through. I have no idea why Cuil does not consider Music Mates to be a higher authority since that’s ALL music mates does is “musician referral” whereas this directory gets top position as shown:

Even if you click through the next page Arts & Enterntainment Music link in the top left, you still don’t get anywhere close to finding a dedicated musician referral site, certainly not one better than Music Mates (me biased). And, I can think of a dozen or so organized referrals that SHOULD be listed here but are not. Why is that if they claim to have more istings already than Google does?

Some webmasters are suggesting it’s because Cuil is listing all the crap and duplicate page content that Google has spent all these years trying to get rid of. Personally, I think the Cuil crew knew exactly what would happen. If they launched the best search results they could out of the gate, there would be little room for improvement.

With quite a few imperfections in Cuil, there’s nowhere for them to go but up. Certainly, there could be room for someone to sweep in and buy their technology, but I don’t see that as being very attractive to Microsoft. The MS search is certainly better than Cuil already and Cuil does not “yet” feature a pay-per-click model. And, that’s really what Microsoft is after…the money!

Take a look at Cuil.com and search for your website and maybe a few competitors. Share your views here. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see what happens to Cuil in 6 months. Eithe they’ll get their act together and really become competitive by offering quality search results, or it could all just go by the wayside. Who knows, at least they got some great press coverage out it although the backlash from users was pretty brutal.

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Being an internet junkie I had to try Cuil out myself by searching for one of my domain names. I was impressed but only with the first result. After that there were a bunch of results that had no relevance to my domain name. Heck there even seemed to be some random images thrown up there with links to my domain name.
I do think they pages look better in a design aspect, I think they need to fine tune their search algorithm to hand out better results. It’s a good start however hitting CNN and any big media outlet has hurt Cuil more than it has helped at this time.

July 31st, 2008 | 2:41 pm

Agreed Jeff, the images and how they get near a post has been a pretty popular topic too. I’m sure we’ll be learning more over the next couple of weeks.

July 31st, 2008 | 4:37 pm

This is odd. Our site comes up nicely, but the image posted with it is of a book published by another outfit also called Nomad Press. When you click the image of their book, you get our site. . . .

July 31st, 2008 | 4:46 pm
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