There’s a strong trend in the online world of publishing companies buying vertical search engines. NBC Universal invested recently in Healthline, which searches on medical information. Meredith added Helia, which also covers medical topics, to its line-up to bring more user activity to its roster of online titles. Blog network Glam just launched their own vertical search engine to mine the content of its 350+ partner blogs.
The latest move in this space is Hachette Filipacchi Media’s deal with TheFind.com. TheFind helps people find (natch) home and lifestyle products and information. Under the deal, Hachette will sell ads on the search engine and TheFind will provide search functionality on Hachette’s home and lifestyle portal PointClickHome.com.
So why the move toward vertical search? Because when you need to find specific information on a topic, a broad Google search often won’t return the results you need. There have been many times when I’m looking for information on a specific topic and I’ve wished I could just search blogs and sites on that topic instead of the whole web. Vertical search engines that draw upon just that sort of list have tremendous value to the user.
They also have power for the advertisers. This is a tightly focused audience they can reach by placing ads either on the engine’s site or contextually alongside search results. That’s access to people when they’re most motivated to be looking for help finding what they need, and if the best source turns out to be an advertiser then everyone wins.
I suspect more and more of these vertical plays will pop up and existing ones will be integrated into existing sites. The technology is getting better and with the proliferation of information online it’s going to be more important than ever to organize that information based on the needs of those doing the searching.