Apologies to any offended emo fans…
Vertical search engines are like vertical stripes…ok in some cases, blatantly offensive in others. Well, at least they’re maybe NOT so ok in other cases, actually.
A vertical search engine is one that has many aliases, including topical search engines, vortals, specialty search engines, and niche search engines. They’ve been around for awhile, coming into favor and going out again, but for many industries, they’re really what matters and they have the potential to send more relevant traffic to certain sites than the regular major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN. A vertical search engine’s database is a lot more focused than that of a major search engine, so queries tend to return results that are more defined for the user.
So what types of industries would most benefit from being well-placed in vertical search engines? Retail, travel, media, real estate, entertainment, and B2B services, to name a few. Most of us are familiar with the larger vertical search engines like shopping.com and kayak.com, but there are a ton of other smaller niche engines that are cropping up, and don’t make the mistake of ignoring them, especially if you’re involved with B2B sites (which they seem to be really perfect for right now.)
I have a client who’s strictly B2B, in a very well-defined niche, and fairly unable to benefit from many of the more modern marketing techniques (like social media and video.) This client has actually made me rethink how I conduct an SEO campaign, since they have a really good reputation to uphold (which means no crappy links, no spamming, no cloaking–you know, the usual stuff you do) and are truly one of the most pleasurable clients I’ve ever worked with.
Please note that I have worked with many other clients who have good reputations!
This one just happens to get most of their business from word-of-mouth so their reputation is extremely important to them, and to me. When someone needs your help but they don’t need it DESPERATELY, you really are able to step back and focus. If I keep them well-placed in their relevant vertical search engines, that could have the potential to give them more business than if I get them a top ranking in MSN (I’d take a top one in Google though, any day.)
Ideally you’d be able to rank well in any and all search engines, but that’s just not always a possibility. If you’re working for B2B clients and looking for a way to get them more relevant traffic, try a vertical. If it doesn’t work out, please blame someone other than me though. I’ve already taken the blame for way too much in the past few days.
Here’s a short list of a few vertical search engines for a variety of industries:
Thomasnet.com (Industrial product and service search)
Business.com (Business products and service providers)
Kayak.com (Hotel, airfare, and car reservations)
IT.com (Industry products, services, and solutions for IT and finance)
Globalspec.com (Engineering products)
Law.com (Legal staffing and law documents)
Healia.com (Consumer health)