28
Jul
08

Google’s “Cuil” new competitor: not so cool for Google?

Cuil, pronounced “cool”, is a brand new search engine claiming an index of more than 120 billion pages, and founded by former Google employees that were search engine stars to begin with. How cool is Cuil, and will it survive a duel with the big G?

Hear ye, hear ye: a new search engine has come to town, and the buzz is that it has the biggest and best chance yet of truly challenging Google, the first time any new search engine has really had that kind of buzz.

Available at cuil.com, the site tells us in its “about us” section that Cuil is an old Irish word for knowledge, and that if you want knowledge, “ask Cuil”.

The founders of Cuil were former Google employees and were big search stars before Google came along, and it’s their pedigree both with Google and before it that have the pundits thinking that Cuil has every chance of truly being cool.

Billed as “the world’s biggest search engine”, with 180 billion pages spidered and over 120 billion of those included in the actual Cuil index, the founders claim that “the Internet has grown” and that they think “it’s time search did too.”
That 120 billion-plus page figure is claimed to be more than three times what Google indexes and ten times the number of pages Google searches, although Google recently did put out a release saying it has more than 1 trillion links in its database, although links are not necessarily individual pages.

Cuil also takes a major dig at Google’s ultra successful and ultra popular “Pagerank” concept, an idea which gave Google its undeniable accuracy that everyone else, so far, has tried so hard to beat.

Cuil’s attack on “Pagerank” is evident when it says in its “about us” page: “Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.”

What Cuil says it does next: “Then we offer you helpful choices and suggestions until you find the page you want and that you know is out there. We believe that analyzing the Web rather than our users is a more useful approach, so we don’t collect data about you and your habits, lest we are tempted to peek. With Cuil, your search history is always private.”

According to Cuil’s press release, the site “provides organized and relevant results based on Web page content analysis”, which goes beyond link analysis and goes into deeper page analysis, which is then grouped and sorted by category.

According to Cuil, this gives you better results, with “tabs” breaking up information into further searchable categories, images to identify topics, and “search refining suggestions” to guide you to better answers.

Ultimately, of course, consumers will need to try it out and see if they get better and more accurate results than they currently get with Google.

My own quick attempts at searching with Cuil in researching for this storage showed that it did bring back relevant results, and definitely presents information in what appears to be a more organised and more graphical manner.

It’s clearly early days, but I’ll definitely be searching with Cuil again just to see what it comes up with. So far, it’s dramatically more impressive than any other Google competitor I’ve ever seen, and makes me wonder why Microsoft is stuffing around with trying to buy Yahoo! when they could be throwing some of that $50 billion towards Cuil.

Tom Costello, CEO and co-founder of Cuil said in the press release that: “The Web continues to grow at a fantastic rate and other search engines are unable to keep up with it.”

Costello continued: “Our significant breakthroughs in search technology have enabled us to index much more of the Internet, placing nearly the entire Web at the fingertips of every user. In addition, Cuil presents searchers with content-based results, not just popular ones, providing different and more insightful answers that illustrate the vastness and the variety of the Web.”
So, who are the people behind the Cuil search engine?

Well, it’s probably best to let the Cuil press release explain it:

“Cuil’s technology was developed by a team with extensive history in search. The company is led by husband-and-wife team Tom Costello and Anna Patterson.

“Mr. Costello researched and developed search engines at Stanford University and IBM; Ms. Patterson is best known for her work at Google, where she was the architect of the company’s large search index and led a Web page ranking team.

“They refused to accept the limitations of current search technology and dedicated themselves to building a more comprehensive search engine.

“Together with Russell Power, Anna’s former colleague from Google, they founded Cuil to give users the opportunity to explore the Internet more fully and discover its true potential.”

Anna Patterson, the President and COO of Cuil explained further: “Since we met at Stanford, Tom and I have shared a vision of the ideal search engine. Our team approaches search differently.”

Patterson continues: “By leveraging our expertise in search architecture and relevance methods, we’ve built a more efficient yet richer search engine from the ground up. The Internet has grown and we think it’s time search did too.”

Cuil also promises to “guarantee online privacy for searchers”, explaining that they “rank pages based on content instead of number of clicks”, something that makes “personal data collection unnecessary”, rendering “personal search history always private.”

Cuil list some interesting information on their philosophy, a quick demo of their features and a fascinating 11 question FAQ, which also explains that “Twiceler” is Cuil’s “web crawler”, which it says webmasters should be aware of.

All in all, it looks like the most exciting new search engine so far, and if it truly is any good, will give Google the impetus is needs to itself take its own search capabilities into the next dimension – being the biggest and best for too long with no true competition is no good for anyone!

by Alex Zaharov-Reutt on ITWire.com

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