Cuil Search Engine

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 28, 2008
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Internet, Search

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.


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  1. Ramsin said on April 25, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Can you imagine if Google’s Search engine would be down? That would totally suck. What happened to the website? Is it a mystery? I hope it doesn’t happen for long. Its been down for quite a while now. Google hacked it. lol
    But, what could have happened to the Internet Search Engine? Tell me your guesses in the comments :D

  2. Angelo R. said on July 30, 2008 at 7:24 am

    @Stamatios: The easiest response to that it applies to a niche. I once read an amazing book (many years ago) and I had completely forgotten the title and the authors. I only remembered the cover. Then one day while randomly looking for books, I happened across a website on geocities, that pictured the cover of the book that I read. I was so excited I immediately emailed the owner thanking him for putting up his website.

    My point being. At that moment, that site was unbelievably useful to me.

  3. Stamatios said on July 30, 2008 at 5:33 am

    i used cuil to search for: cuil search engine, and the site was not found. which proves that their search has nothing to do with popularity (while google finds and displays cuil in top ten links) but also proves that popularity is still important in searches, and at high frequency, could come really close to absolute relevance (if a site is really popular and ,000 visit it for a specific reason, it has to also be absolutely relevant). However, cuil may work better for sites that are not popular but still contain useful/relevant information (which brings us back to the funtamental question: why would a site with useful/relevant information be unpopular? I can only think of sites that contain information but do not have the ability to attract visitors). Anyways, it will take a lot to deviate users from Google. Just in the notion that by using cuil you may be missing sites/info, you stay with Google.

  4. sajjad said on July 29, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for this info.

  5. Alex said on July 29, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I tried the site again today and it’s not getting any cuiler. I blogged on my experience here

  6. Rarst said on July 29, 2008 at 6:13 am

    Caught it online and working today.

    Engine that return binary garbage (insides of rar archives and debian packages) as search results… They indexed bit too much crap in those mulitply-billions pages index they are boasting.

  7. Starboykb said on July 29, 2008 at 4:42 am

    The search result on my name is quite impressive. However, it is funny that my main website were missing on the list instead and show the older one that was a long gone.

    maybe it needs time to shape up the search. i like how the image turn out. for example, if there is post showing garage sales it will show a random garage sales pictures to grab attention.

  8. Rarst said on July 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm


    I always considered “everyone does it” poor excuse. :) First impression is important, boasting about taking on Google and ending up crashing is so not improving startup image.

  9. Angelo R. said on July 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm
    Reply leads me here ->

    Whereas leads me to the actual search engine.

    @Rarst: Pretty much all startups go through this when they first open their gates. Generally there is so much press coverage on it that people flood their servers and they’re just not ready for it.

  10. Rarst said on July 28, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    And it is already down as of now. Can someone imagine google search down?.. :) That’s the difference.

  11. Martin said on July 28, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    The search engine was first known as cuill, they removed one l so now it is cuil.

  12. iampriteshdesai said on July 28, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I dont get it. and both look same. But cuil shows up results where as ciull doesnt. I am sure that cuill is an spoof of the other search engine. But the interdace is same. What do you think Michael? Also cuil, cuill, celestia?

  13. Lee said on July 28, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    My big problem is the lack of operators that google offers….

  14. Angelo R. said on July 28, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    A lot of people seem to be linking to whereas the actual engine is located at

  15. iladelf said on July 28, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    I performed a few searches with it, and was not impressed. Seems if your search is longer than 3 to 4 words, Cuil comes up with nothing, and asks you to refine your search.

    I need a search engine that finds stuff when Google can’t. So far, Cuil ain’t it.

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