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Steve Wylie, Contributor

July 28, 2008

3 Min Read

Today a group of ex-Google employees launched Cuil, a new competitor to Google Search. So what's cool about Cuil and do we need another search engine? How do the services compare? Here's what Cuil has to say about that:

"The Internet has grown exponentially in the last fifteen years but search engines have not kept upuntil now. Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone elsethree times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft.

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 pages coherency."

I did some comparison searches on Google and Cuil to get a sense for how the services are different. Both offered up more results than I could possibly ever use but the key to search is relevance - how good is the search engine at getting to the information that I will find useful? I did not see a huge difference in the results I got from each but figuring out exactly which is the better search engine will take more time (and a more scientific study by someone else) to determine. In the meantime, I noted some other interesting differences between the two services:

  • Typos: Cuil didn't offer suggested spellings when I intentionally misspelled "Microsft" while Google offered up "Did you mean: microsoft". Cuil did highlight my misspelled word but it did little to offer up help. It simply gave me the search results on my misspelled word which is not ideal.

  • Content Filtering: Both Google and Cuil offer search filtering for possible objectionable material.

  • Page layout: Cuil's interface is a little easier on the eye, offering up a longer description for each search result thanks to the 2 or 3 columns results layout. Cuil also includes an image where available.

  • Google offers extensive language support. If you go to the Google preferences you can select from over 40 languages for both the search page and information you're searching. I didn't find that on Cuil.

  • Subscriber Links: Google offers something called "Subscribed Links" which allows you to tell Google if you have sources you'd like included in your search results. No such feature on Cuil.

  • Advanced Search: Google offers an "Advanced Search" option in its preferences which allows the user to be more granular in exactly what or what not to look for in the search. I did not find this option on Cuil.

But the most important difference I saw between the two services was that the Google site stayed up. I know Cuil is new and hot and probably getting inundated with traffic, but having persistent outages is a non-starter for me. Not that Google has been immune to outages, but they have provided a pretty consistent, reliable service over the years.

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