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Old 06-16-2004   #1
Chris Sherman
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Vertical Search - The Next Big Thing?

Over the past year, Google took market share from Yahoo and MSN, according to a new report from industry analyst Hitwise. But the increasing popularity of vertical search sites poses a significant threat to all of the major search engines.

Please join the discussion about today's SearchDay article: Google Gains in Popularity, But Will It Last? The article discusses a new survey by Hitwise of search engine market share, user demographics, and the increasing popularity of vertical search sites.
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Old 06-16-2004   #2
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I have not had time to study the new report on vertical search, but am I the only one that heard this before?

At least, I remember a few times back in history when others have said vertical search would take over. Personally I do think vertical search is great but it just hasen't turned out big for anyone yet. The large cross-vertical portals seems to eat the most.

That dosen't mean people that want to fight for vertical search should stop. I am just not so sure they will ever suceed in taker over any majority of the search market. I do not think its a big threat to the major engines.

But then again, things could change and I could turn out to be wrong
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Old 06-16-2004   #3
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Anyone care to provide the vertical search for dummies explanation? ;-)

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Old 06-16-2004   #4
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Anyone care to provide the vertical search for dummies explanation? ;-)

Nick
Not sure if this article will help, written by Danny named The Vortals Are Coming! The Vortals Are Coming! in 2000.

Its kinda old but that is the only article I found from Search Engine Watch only on that specific topic. Maybe Danny Sullivan knows of a better article?
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Old 06-16-2004   #5
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My invisible tabs one kind of touches on this more recently, talking about the fact major search engines are offering more access to specialized/vertical databases, but that this poses interface challenges.
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Old 06-16-2004   #6
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Great, thanks guys...

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Old 06-16-2004   #7
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As I mentioned in another thread, I still feel an interactive search process might work better as I described in a short article, Google, I want to search WITH you!.
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Old 06-16-2004   #8
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Question Examples?

What sites are examples of good vertical search? I am in the tech/software/ISP industry so any for that would be helpful. Is there a directory of vertical search sites?

I googled 'vertical search tech' and 'vertical search' and could only find some old articles (2000) and vedors offering to set my portal up with a vertical search engine (doesnt adding Google search to my site already do this?).
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Old 06-16-2004   #9
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Would anyone consider ebay.com to be vertical search? It is a shopping search engine and efforts by Google and Yahoo to create a shopping search engine proves that it isn't easy.

Are reverse look up engines vertical search? There are a few useful ones around, and even Google has some of that built in.

Subject specific engines come and go. A few that have stood the test of time mostly depend on proprietary data, that is not crawl-able. Part of the "hidden-web". Pubmed.com is a good example.

I can remember a few years back, Andrew Goodman was very excited about this in relation to portals. A lot of people were using new buzz words to describe something that already existed.

That said, I do see today, good tools that can be used to add context to small databases and affect the ranking of the results. Open source software available today, starting with http://www.nutch.org/docs/en/ and lots a cool tools that can be used to actually create a different offering than the usual ranking criteria used by the majors.
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Old 06-16-2004   #10
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Quote:
What sites are examples of good vertical search
Hi Halfacat,

Findlaw.com is an example of a verticle search engine. In my definition they are like niche directories taken to the next level. I do not know of any directories that may list them all, but there well may be a few.
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Old 06-16-2004   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halfacat
What sites are examples of good vertical search? I am in the tech/software/ISP industry so any for that would be helpful.
For this vertical Business.com would be a good fit if your offering is B2B
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Old 06-16-2004   #12
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lol

Okay,
Sex.com is good for adult content... I was going with Business.com but someone beat me to it.
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Old 06-16-2004   #13
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But the increasing popularity of vertical search sites poses a significant threat to all of the major search engines.
Hi Chris,

I have not yet read the report, only your article.
When first reading I disagreed with the above as a statement of fact. Personally, I do not view the verticle search as a threat to the *big three* ( almost sounds like Detroit automotive talk) but rather look at them as working in conjunction with one another. Of course on further reading we reach agreement.
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Will the growth of verticals threaten the big three? Possibly, but it's more likely what we're seeing is a maturation of the industry that allows for both general purpose search engines and verticals to co-exist
Totally agree on the fact re searchers and their mentalites.
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searchers are becoming more sophisticated, and are learning that general purpose search engines are not always the best choice for every type of search
This is clearly evidenced by searchers' methodologies, and the movement from single keywords to multi worded phrases. Not that far back one may have searched *rental accommodations* now the search is moving toward *two bedroom villa overlooking the beach in San Diego*

As more pages are indexed and more searchers join the fray for information, I feel there is definitely a need for the *verticle SE*, but do not think of it as a threat to the majors. Their biggest threat, IMHO, is from within and being able to control what they have.

I did find it interesting MSN supplied results to the lower income demographics, and yet these were the folks searching the shopping, business and finance, and travel. Google on the other hand was providing the results for the wealthier, and these folks were searching entertainment and news media. I would have guessed the reverse. Of particular note was the percentage of MSN visitors who went directly to G or Y. For me that point may be the most important disclosure. It should be for MSN.
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Old 06-16-2004   #14
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At the moment there may well be a market for vertical search engines, and in some niche's there will always be so.

Personally I would have thought that users will not be satisfied using several different sources depending on what they're looking for - this will reduce topic cross-over and start segregating the results too much. In time the popular verticals will be consolidated and become an updated general search engine.
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Old 06-17-2004   #15
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Any travel sites as examples of good vertical search?
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Old 06-17-2004   #16
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The success of verticals is going to swing on their placement at specialty publications... smart engines will convince (and rightly so) publications to provide niche specific search... when I visit a business site I am looking for stuff in that realm... and yes while Google and Yahoo etc. have somewhat decent results... business.com filters the misguided right out of the picture...
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Old 06-17-2004   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
Not sure if this article will help, written by Danny named The Vortals Are Coming! The Vortals Are Coming! in 2000.

Its kinda old but that is the only article I found from Search Engine Watch only on that specific topic. Maybe Danny Sullivan knows of a better article?
Yeah, thanks for that article, Danny, it caused me to pay well into four figures for "vortal.com" shortly afterward.

Could be worse, though, I could have paid $7.5 million for business.com.

I still think there may be something like "vortalness" that is out there waiting to be discovered or defined, and some sites clearly embody it, but insofar as the whole Internet is granular, the portals (i.e. Google at this point) can control access to these verticals, blocking new people from learning about them, in order to force them to advertise.

In short, vertical search depends on search writ large as its lifeblood. As there is generally attrition in any online community, the large portals seem to have a lot of control over the process of renewal and growth of any "vertical category site." Getting visitors to such sites for free is very profitable in practice, so the average cost per new visitor is now rising.

And, of course, the major portals will want to develop their own granular verticals (Google Groups II), etc. We live in interesting and potentially oligopolistic times, as always.
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Old 06-21-2004   #18
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NOT as a platform for pure bizdev. (Having no other posts on any other topic but promoting your own service is a sign that you may have no other motivation for joining the forum.)
I am a big proponent of self promotion, but there is a time and place for it. This is not the time nor the place. I personally thank the moderators for wanting to keep posts on track. Too many fora have been ruined by drive byes who come for no other reason than promoting themselves or their product. Contribute first and the promotion will come naturally.

Hopefully, we are not getting off track on this thread.
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Old 06-21-2004   #19
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hmmm

I agree sometimes the role of the moderator is not a popular one... especially from people who want something and get annoyed when it is deleted... keep up the good work Andrew.
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Old 06-22-2004   #20
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back on topic

There are a whole host of vertical search sites, from small niche directories to larger directories and specialized search engines. And they have traffic, regular users, and even communities built around them.

The problem is that darn few are making money at it, and since they are not business oriented the press pays almost no attention. Yet they are still web search and they can do many things better than the general indexes.
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