Vertical search seems to have been put on the back burner for many search marketers. With new buzz words like “Social Media” and “Local/Mobile Targeting”, who could blame them? But let’s not be so quick to forget about tried and true relevancy for shinny new promises. While vertical search may not be for every brand or market, if it fits, it can be your very best friend.
At the vertical search session here in San Jose, our presenters covered a number of related topics including how to build vertical a search engine, how does vertical tie into you marketing plans and leveraging your own personal vertical site search.
The interesting thing about using or building a dedicated vertical search engine is the levels of specificity and detail this type of targeted search can create. Vertical search has the capacity to use “Canned Searches” which are preformatted search queries which would probably return poor results in a major search engine. The example Philip James, CEO and Founder of Snooth.com used was “Dog Friendly Employers”. This type of search on Google may lead to erratic results, while on a vertical job related search engine such at Indeed.com, the results would be much more specific. Additionally, Mr. James noted that these types of engine can be built to ad “Parametric” search variables to queries. Travel site you needed detail for hotels on a specific area, a field could be added for a Zip Code. This Zip Code is a search parameter which can had a much greater degree of relevancy to the returned results.
Paul Foster, CEO of Indeed.com helped to define vertical search in more detail. He explained that this type of search focuses on specialized data or data hidden behind the standard web interface. Structured and time sensitive data also form a good basis for using vertical search. Some great examples of vertical search include:
- Kayak.com in the Travel vertical
- Indeed.com in the Job vertical
- Become.com in the Shopping vertical
Each of these sites meets the previous criteria in one way or another. Travel data is very time sensitive, Shopping data is very structured and usually hidden in back end data farms. Mr. Foster also showed a slide of the growth of new vertical search compared the entrenched search in the same spaces. The new vertical search did not have the quantities of traffic or usage as the older sites; however the growth rates of these new sites greatly outpaced the older sites. There are both paid and organic methods of getting you content in to these vertical search engines.
Jonathan Dingman offered an interesting point on how expanding the search features of your own site could be akin to building your own personalized vertical search dealing with you and your brand specifically.
A question during the Q&A session wrapped up this session nicely. “Why choose vertical search over the majors?” Paul Foster summed it up nicely. To paraphrase, marketers are underestimating the value and growth of vertical search and the targeting is unparalleled. How can you go wrong?