Image courtesy: scribblesandwords.com
Time is not on the side of Cuil.com, the newest behemoth search engine which is boasts searching 121,617,892,992 web pages (at time of writing this). Upon giving it a try, as anyone should, I find that it seems to be fraught with error and a graphic free-for-all for returning relevant results. Will I write it off as a non-contender? Probably not so quickly. It has definitely grabbed my attention and I will probably do comparative searches on both Google and Cuil to see what differences, and what similarities appear.
There is Merit to the content vs popularity that Cuil is boasting for its search results, which simply goes back to the (old?) adage that Content Is King. The whole relevance for search results based on page content just strengthens the first lesson in search engine optimizing, which is that lasting results can be achieved based on the lowest common denominators of html, being well designed pages with well developed content. Even Google still works that way to a greater degree than most want to admit. However, with the popularity and authority removed from search results, and content being the driving algorithmic factor for Cuil, the results will most certainly be different between these search platforms. Not necessarily wrong, but most certainly different. So really, as the FULL adage must go, and I'm sure you've all heard a version here or there: "If Content Is King, then Distibution must be Queen" and this is where the contest will heat up (if it ever gets a chance to get started).
Image courtesy: scribblesandwords.com
Questions come up if you have a search engine based on content alone, however. Will it allow all of the old school methods of Search Engine Trickery such as keyword stuffing pages with same font/background colors, or does it's algorithms look for this sort of thing and penalize? Either way, if the site has been to the page, it counts toward the number mentioned above in the first paragraph. What of reputation management? If someone needs to be rescued from bad press, without the skills of talented link builders to take immediate action, how will one be able to undo their internet damage before it does permanent damage to their reputation online? Finally, if Cuil has actually indexed about three times more web pages than Google has, just how relevant are the SERPs in Cuil if Google hasn't found the pages relevant enough to ad to their indexes?
Now, interestingly enough, the format of Cuil is pretty slick. They are offering up e-zine style results, complete with an image. Granted, there is much work to do on the image delivery to ensure that the images belong with the query results and are relevant, however if they work that out, the concept is outstanding and promises yet another take on display advertising. In fact, it would not only mean optimizing content, it would also mean optimizing images for organic search in tandem with the page content. Also, Google has taken notice of this new format, (it would appear), and is now presenting their sponsored search results in much the same format (but without the images, which I'm sure will be forthcoming in AdWords in the future). The change to the appearance of the Sponsored Ads page occurred the very night that Cuil launched, so I doubt there is much coincidence there. In fact, did Google change this layout because Cuil launched it and it made sense, or did Cuil launch their entire search engine prematurely because someone found out that Google was going to roll out the new presentation of Sponsored Results in pretty much the same format that Cuil has built their engine with? After all, it then would have been perceived as "They got that from Google". Also, how did they (Cuil OR Google) know to roll out at what time and date? Search Engine Espionage?
Finally, there are no visible advertising opportunities yet (again, at time of writing) on Cuil, so Google will still continue to rake in the money. I wonder if Cuil will manage to stand a chance in this industry since all of the creators have been involved in search since it was started. After all, I can remember a couple of young guys who built a search engine with what seemed a somewhat silly and unlikely name, taking on the search giants of their time, being Altavista, Lycos, Excite, and others. Can you even imagine?
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.
aka Doug Gebhardt