One of the big buzzwords in search technology right now is the idea of vertical search. The idea’s been around for years, but the crop of new vertical search tools erupting this year brings the whole idea into sharp relief.
At it’s core, vertical search is the very basic concept of searching within a specific industry, topic, or among closely related pieces of information. A post by Jeff Dalton puts a valuable perspective on the subject – as a software developer for a vertical search company, he’s in a good position to address the topic.
What Jeff focuses on is the question "what is a vertical search engine?" This is an interesting question, of course, but I’m more interested in the concept of vertical search itself. Jeff’s post splits hairs between what is and isn’t a web search engine. Fine – I agree that not all companies called vertical search engines are necessarily search engines at all! Still, I don’t think there’s anything inherent in the term vertical search which requires that a web search engine be involved.
I’m not going to delve deeply into the nitty gritty of vertical search right now – I’m going to keep mulling this over in my head to produce a quality article on the topic.
For now, if you want more information, read the article mentioned above by Jeff Dalton or perhaps Om Malik’s thoughts on the subject or Tom Evslin’s take.
For now, I’m just going to say that I feel that Evslin’s statement that "’vertical search engine’ is an oxymoron" is off target. There’s nothing inherent in the term ‘search engine’ which requires the index to be comprehensive! The value, I suspect, to vertical search engines may be the ability to provide advertisers with highly targeted and industry focused media sources.