Search engine Cuil launched earlier this evening, claiming a bigger index size (120 billion web pages) than Google or any other search engine. The pedigree of the founders and execs, which includes three ex senior Googlers, means the service will be compared to Google from day one. And the way they will be compared is index size and, more importantly, relevance/ranking of results.
We’ve been testing the engine for the last hour. Based on our test queries Cuil is an excellent search engine, particularly since it is all of an hour old. But it doesn’t appear to have the depth of results that Google has, despite their claims. And the results are not nearly as relevant.
A search for Dog returns 280 million results on Cuil and 498 million on Google. Judging relevance of results is subjective, but Google returns Wikipedia as the first result, then dog.com. Cuil returns Dog.com, wikipedia isn’t listed on the first page of results. Both are meaningful results, but Google is better.
More searches, Cuil v. Google: Apple (83 m v. 571 million) – neither mention the fruit. France (102 m v. 1.5 billion) – Cuil’s category refinement makes their results better for this query. Stonehenge (800k v. 8.5 million). Silicon Valley (3.2 m v. 24 m). Techcrunch (600k v. 6.5 m).
It seems pretty clear that Google’s index of web pages is significantly larger than Cuil’s unless we’re randomly choosing the wrong queries. Based on the queries above, Google is averaging nearly 10x the number of results of Cuil.
And Cuil’s ranking isn’t as good as Google’s based on the pure results returned from both queries. Where Cuil excels is with the related categories, which return results that are extremely relevant. With Google, we’ve all gotten used to trying a slightly different search to get the refined results we need. Cuil does a good job of guessing what we’ll want next and presents that in the top right widget. That means Cuil saves time for more research based queries.
And I want to reemphasize that Cuil is only an hour old at this point, Google has had a decade to perfect their search engine.