What is Vertical Search?
Vertical engines are search engines that specialise in different types of search. In the generic Google model, examples of verticals would be Google’s image search, location or map search, news search, and web search. In many respects these should be considered to be separate search engines, all within the Google umbrella.
The most common type of vertical search is web search, in which the search engine crawls its database of web pages, searching for and returning the pages most relevant and useful to the users search query. As we know, Google sorts these relevant web pages into a hierarchical order based upon factors outlined in its algorithm, including relevance, authority and PageRank.
Whist web search is key, Google’s other verticals have become increasingly important and must not be overlooked. Google’s image search for instance, is a hugely popular search engine, with millions of searches every day.
As image search capabilities improve, image search is likely to evolve into a highly sophisticated functionality with high SEO appeal and potential, particularly to industries with a strong visual focus like consumer retail.
Results from vertical search other than web are also more frequently being pulled into the search engine results pages, occupying a significant portion of space previously allocated to organic search results.
This kind of blended search presents users with a mix of results across a number of Google’s verticals and makes for search results that better anticipate and meet searcher’s needs.
Below is a short summary of Google’s main verticals:
As outlined, web search is Google’s main search engine. It encompasses all of the websites on Google’s considerable database. In web search, a searcher types in his or her search term and Google returns the web pages that it feels most accurately fit the criteria of the search term.
The web vertical offers a diverse range of features beyond just webpages, drawing both on the Knowledge Graph and structured data to provide search results that provide instant answers through rich snippets, cards and carousels, amongst others.
Image search is Google’s second most popular vertical. As of January 1st 2012 Google introduced the New Image Search, in which it can not only match images to search terms, but can now search for images based on images. Using their own image, auser can use Google to search for identical or similar images, with incredible accuracy.
Images can further be sorted into colour, size and age.
Google maps is the world’s most popular map search engine. In this vertical, users can type in an address and find it, anywhere in the world. They can then see the road map view, the ‘street view’ (which is a 3 Dimensional, navigable photograph of that street), or a satellite photographic view.
Users can use maps to find locations, directions or search for nearby businesses. It is incredibly useful for local search.
The Google, Yahoo and Bing news verticals are some of the largest news databases on the planet. Yahoo provides the largest and most visited news search engine, followed by Google and then Bing. Google is catching up, so watch this space. It acts as a real-time RSS feed, flagging up the most relevant news from across the globe. If you are a newspaper or magazine, national or regional, optimising for Google and Yahoo news is imperative.