Several people wrote to me asking me to review Cuil, the hot new search engine that everyone is talking about. Except me. I've explained in the past that I am not expecting any new search engine to come along to dethrone Google. But people persisted, "This one is really different!" So I looked and I listened and I read, and I'm sorry folks, but I don't know what all the fuss is about.
Let's start with the name. It's Cuil (pronounced "cool"). I have to tell you that anytime you start with a name that people have to explain how to pronounce, you're already in trouble. Look, search marketing depends on people being able to remember and spell your name. Any company that breaks that ruil is unlikely to be the search tuil that wins the Google duil. Now, I might turn out to be the fuil here, but the name alone tells me that this will have to generate massive word-of-mouth to take off.
And what would that word of mouth be based on? Well, Danny Sullivan has a detailed look at Cuil if you are interested in knowing all about it, but here are the highlights:
So, Cuil might be cool, but it won't be a contender for your attention as a search marketer anytime soon. Yes, they'll at some point open things up to advertising, but even if they are a success that dwarfs any startup since Microsoft got in the game, they won't grab even a 10% market share. Almost all search marketers ignore Ask.com, and many ignore Microsoft and even Yahoo! now. There's nothing here that marks Cuil as a winner, even if it turns out to be a better search engine, which is debatable.
So what should search marketers be looking at? The upstart that beats Google will not be playing Google's own game. It will be making search easier and even more ingrained in a larger experience. Perhaps it will be social networking. Or media viewing (Google bought YouTube for a reason). Or the operating system of your computer (are you listening, Microsoft?)
But whatever it is, I am convinced it won't be a frontal assault on the Google search engine by another search engine. Whatever gives Google a run for its money will be a bigger experience than search that includes personalized relevance.
A social network could "know" so much about you and your friends that it could make your searches more relevant, searches that can be launched from within your social network experience. The operating system of your computer could work the same way, as a hub for everything you know that makes your searches smarter. Perhaps a mobile phone might do the same thing for some people.
But don't sit around waiting for someone to out-do Google. Each of Google's competitors over the years has claimed that it had a better search engine than Google at one time or another. No one listened, because Google is perfectly good, thank you. The next real battle for Google will be fought on higher ground than just search. Perhaps someone will buy Cuil to mount that attack on Google, but don't expect the battle to be won by Cuil itself.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, Web personalization, and Web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include ClickZ Live, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.
Mike also founded and writes for the Biznology newsletter and blog, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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