How to use Vertical Search
Jay Bhatti, co-founder of Spock.com in Redwood City, Calif., was recently interviewed by Ziff Davis Enterprise Senior Technology Editor Wayne Rash. The topic was vertical search engines-a specialized means of searching that focuses on one topic as opposed to a general search engine such as Google that focuses on everything.
One of the things that you're really an expert in is vertical search. How would a company use vertical search in furthering the things they need to do in business?
Well, one of the things that we see vertical search doing really well is being very specific on understanding what people are looking for. A good example is when you go to Google and search for something, you're going to get a very general result. However, when you're looking for something very specific, like a company might be saying, "Hey, I need to book travel for my employees," they might go to a site like Kayak. Or they might be like, "I need to find products for my company or my office," and they might go to a site like Tofind.com. Or a company's like, "I need to hire employees. I need to look for candidates. I need to do some business development deals," [and] they go to a site like Spock.com. Vertical search, I think, really does a good job of helping companies narrow in on the specific thing that they want to take action on at that point. One thing that semantic search engines do really well is that idea of providing utility, but also very transactional utility because with a lot of vertical search, you're trying to do something, but you're trying to get a transaction done. So whether it's purchasing an airline ticket, buying a product or reaching out and being able to communicate with someone, you're doing something that's very transactional, but also at the same time very utilitarian. Whereas a general search engine like a Google or a Yahoo provides a very [high] utility value, but maybe not a transactional value for a business.
How does a company go about finding a vertical search engine that's going to meet their specific requirements?
First and foremost, it's kind of like, what are your specific needs? It's pretty easy when you're thinking travel. [There are] a lot of vertical search engines about travel, and you could go about and find some. I think the best way to find them is to just go on a general search engine like Google and type in "travel," or "cheap tickets" or something like that. And it'll say, "Hey, these three search engines are the best." Or go to Google and type in product search, or people search or something of that equation, and you will quickly find what semantic search engines are the highest-ranked for those types of queries that you're looking for. So actually the best way to find a vertical search is really to use a general search engine and type in the type of query that you're looking for.