Cuil launched its search engine this week, claiming that it indexes more web pages than Google, Yahoo etc (120 billion pages) and can also do this faster and cheaper.

Cuil (pronounced ‘cool’) was developed by Stanford professor Tom Costello and his wife Anna Patterson, a former Google search architect. The staff at the search engine also includes Russell Power and Louis Monier, who both worked at Google before joining Cuil.

The new search engine claims to do better than current search techniques which focus on links and traffic patterns, and will instead analyse the content of each web page to give more relevant search results.

According to co-founder Tom Costello: “Our significant breakthroughs in search technology have enabled us to index much more of the Internet, placing nearly the entire Web at the fingertips of every user.”

There are no ads on the search engine at the moment, but Cuil eventually plans to make money by placing ads alongside its search results.

Given the claims about the size of its index and the relevance of its results, reaction to the new search engine has been underwhelming, with many bloggers running tests on Cuil, and finding that Google still beats it for the quality of its results.

According to TechCrunch: “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 Cuil returns, Wikipedia isn’t listed on the first page of results. Both are meaningful results, but Google is better.”