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 Thursday, 04 March 2010
Its no brainer to guess that search is the number one activity people do on the internet . Search has always been a very lucrative area with a lot of pull and money flowing in. This phenomena led to the emergence of many search engines popping one after the another promising artificial intelligence based results ( wolfram alpha ) to human powered results ( mahalo ).

Many of these search engines failed to sustain the initial buzz that was created by them. This can be attributed to many factors but honestly the fact is that these search engines couldn’t deliver what they had promised.

With all the push and pull happening a new breed of search engines began to slowly emerge. These search engines are what we refer to as the “vertical search engines”. Some people also call vertical search engines as aggregators. This is due to the fact that these type of search engines aggregate data from various sources and present it to the user. The most common way of aggregating data is by using xml feeds.

Now lets take a look into the top 3 reasons why general search engines fail and vertical search engines rock.

1. Specialized searches –If a person is looking out for a job. He can either go to a job board or do a simple look up on google. A google search would yield a very unordered result. We did a search and found out that 20 per cent of the results were unrelated. Results from news, blogs and article directories don’t help a jobseeker much esp when he is looking for a job. All he needs is to simply check the opening and submit his resume for that position.

2. Freshness – General search engines like google and yahoo do not crawl a website everyday and that’s why the indexed data is not always up to date. Some of the results can be over a month old. While in vertical search engines the xml feed that is sent to them by the publisher website tells them exactly when the content was published and notifies them of any changes. With the inbuilt mechanism of handling the feeds the xml data is updated and reindexed automatically. This ensures the freshness of the content or the job opening.

3. Specialized tools – Many industry specific vertical engines offer specialized tools that assists a user in exploring more about his topic of interest. For example indeed.com offers a salary calculator, job trends, email job alerts and forums where people can participate and get to know more. Basically vertical search engines provide a user with a “one stop shop” option which general search engines don’t.

Here is a report by a leading market research company ( Jupiter Media ) . They did a survey on the problems faced by users with general search engines.



The bottomline

Vertical search engines are here to stay. With a growing user base, revenue and the set of unique features that the vertical search engines provide. It won’t be a hard to guess that vertical search is the next big thing.