The new search engine Cuil got some huge press coverage in the last few days from the likes of Techcrunch and The Guardian which also proved to be a test for their server infrastructure. Many startups who go public with their website either get no visitors at all or so many that their servers cannot handle the traffic and they effectively go boom within the first hours.
Cuil is still up and running which seems to speak for the server infrastructure but can they compete with the dominant Google search engine and the other competitors like Yahoo Search or Windows Live?
Search Engines distinguish each others by the relevancy of their results and additional services that might help the user in his search of the perfect website.
Cuil presents us a simplistic fast loading front page that uses a black background color in contrast to Google's white. The real surprise awaits users after typing in a search term and hitting the Search button; The results are not displayed in rows but in columns. The user can choose a layout with two or three columns. The amount of search results shown remains the same but the three column layout makes good use of widescreen monitors.
Search results are also mixed with images that do not always seem to come from the website that the result links to. A click on the image does however load the same link. This could however cause some confusion by visitors who expect to see the image on that website.
The real question is of course about relevancy and that's tough to measure objectively. What I like is that Cuil is not having a maximum limit of results that are shown from one website in the results. A search for Ghacks displays many pages of my website. If I perform the same search on Google I get 2 out of 10 results for my website, Cuil displays 9 of 11. Not all are that relevant though.
The search quality on the other hand has to improve to match Google's. That's my opinion and based on a few keywords and phrases that I typed into both search engines. But for a first day it's a solid start, one that could bring some fresh air into the search engine world.