Posted January 15, 2008 7:01 pm by with 10 comments

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Sramana Mitra has a post over at GigaOm that plays on her interest in Web3.0, which she defines on her site as the “verticalization of the web around specific Contexts”.

Her article covers a number of different examples of search verticals and shows how they are succeeding in meeting the relevancy demands of their users in much more efficient way than Google may ever be able to do. However with that said, the end goals of vertical search and the end goals of Google seem to me to be divergent.

Vertical search has the ability to ask very specific questions that they know are relevant to the query. Google on the other hand cannot make assumptions as to the specific needs of the user. Given the strength of branding that Sramana imagines these vertical search tools to obtain, she believes circumventing the need for Google and going right to the vertical search could pose a long term business problem for Google that they might never be able to over come.

Still the following quote from Sramana got me really thinking:

“At the back of my mind is a vision that is much bigger than vertical search. It is Web 3.0, a summation of context, community, commerce, content, vertical search and personalization. In the end, new brands able to build deep, rich, highly personalized Web 3.0 user experiences would become Google’s real competition.”

How do you feel about this conclusion? Does it feel to you like vertical search from a strong brand could be the challenge that Google is unprepared to meet?

  • Dave Shaw

    I think maybe it depends on how you use/think of Google. When I was searching for a job I didn’t hope Google would find me a link to a site with a specific job. I searched hoping Google would point me to a relevant site which then would allow me to search for a job. I guess I wanted Google to point me to a vertical search site – I didn’t think Google would BE the vertical search site.

  • I would like to talk about “Types”, not “Contexts” because any targeted or context search engines never give me any valuable results. But Google did any time.

  • As long as Google can provide better search results than verticals how could it be?

  • In a lot of cases they can’t and, as Dave has mentioned, sometimes using them in order to find relevant places for your search is the way to go.

    Alan Johnson

  • I think to that point though. The author of the initial piece implied that the brand would be so strong people wouldn’t use Google to find them, rather people would just go directly to the brand circumventing the need for Google and eliminating its predominance in the space.


  • The E-consultancy/Convera “Vertical Search Survey 2008″ has just been released and reveals some very interesting information.

    CPM will be fastest-growing revenue stream for publishers in 2008
    Online revenue set to increase while print income flattens or decreases

    Content owners must ensure visibility within fragmenting digital landscape by embracing RSS, widgets and toolbars.

    Publishers see vertical search as opportunity to ‘reclaim the online community from Google’.

    The fastest-growing revenue streams for publishers in 2008 will be internet display advertising and online sponsorship.

    Some 72% of publishers are expecting an increase in income from CPM advertising next year and 67% are predicting a rise in digital sponsorship, while print revenues are more likely to flatten or decrease. Just under two thirds (64%) are expecting a rise in paid search (PPC) revenue.

    The findings come from a survey which was circulated to members of the Association of Online Publishers (AOP), American Business Media (ABM), Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK) and E-consultancy’s early-adopter community of internet marketers.

    The research also highlights the need for specialist publishers to react quickly to major changes in the digital environment in order to maintain and increase their market share and visibility.

    Publishers need to adapt to maximize their digital revenues at a time of shifting advertising budgets. Trends in digital marketing are leading towards a fragmentation of the online landscape and ‘atomization’ of content. Content owners have a great opportunity to increase visibility for their content through the effective use of vertical search, feeds, widgets and toolbars.

    The level of uptake for feeds and customized homepages is very high among this early-adopter audience surveyed but this kind of online behavior will soon become more widespread among knowledge workers across a wider range of industries.”

    Some 93% of more than 500 media and internet professionals said that they would be ‘very likely’ or ‘quite likely’ to use a search engine that focused on serving their specific business or work needs.

    More than 70% of publishers perceived ‘reclaiming the online community from Google’ to be either a major benefit or a minor benefit from vertical search.

    To download a free online copy of the full report, click here

  • Vertical meta-search is definitely a potential threat to Google. The online travel space is a case in point, where meta-search companies such as Kayak have recorded rapid growth since launching about two years ago. Their recent acquisition of SideStep and funding with a $30 million round is validation of their business model. In addition Yahoo! has now installed FareChase, a company they acquired nearly two years ago as their default travel search engine. These travel meta-searchers also have had quite an impact on the online travel agencies who are reviewing their own transaction based business model. With new travel meta-search companies, using semantic web tools this is an area to be watched.

  • tss

    Vertical search definitely has the potential to chip away at Google’s strong hold on search. With companies like Convera and SearchBlox rolling out search solutions targeted toward vertical search, it will be interesting to see how Google plays out. With new offerings such as pay-as-you-go search infrastructure for creating a vertical search engine (, there is no barrier to entering this space.

  • Aeldra Robinson

    The most huge change: the Google Mini has been stopped. You should think about Google Custom Search assuming that you fit the aforementioned conditions: provided that you don’t have to record secure content, if open Google as of now records your locales fast, or in the event that you don’t have the staff to make OneBoxes. In the event that those conditions don’t connect with you might acknowledge Lucene Solr. Yes, the Google apparatus’ examination let you know what number of quests prepared no outcomes, yet those reports are totally incorrect for our situation. Not certain why.

    Google Mini vs. SearchBlox

  • Pamela Lagahid

    I am a fan of the software Searchblox since then and I know it is more functional than the others.