Search Goes Vertical
Google was always about the single box that you could use to find anything on the Internet. Is the path toward increased relevance leading to a segmented search tool that has specific options for each vertical? If so, where will it stop--and what does it mean for business and publishers online?
To get an idea of what is already available,let's list Google's vertical search tools:
Web Search (google.com)
Images Search (images.google.com)
Groups Search (groups.google.com)
News Search (news.google.com)
Local Search (local.google.com)
Print Search (print.google.com)
Blog Search (blogsearch.google.com)
Catalogs Search (catalogs.google.com)
Scholar Search (scholar.google.com)
However, the introduction of Google Base and Google Sitemaps has introduced a whole new dimension. Google Base will allow users and publishers to upload detailed content including product classifications and attributes. Google Sitemaps' use of XML feeds could be expanded to support a similar level of classification and structured data.
With this move to more structured content feeds rather than spidered content, Google is in a position to offer even more vertical searches including many commercial categories. So what could this lead to? Car Search, Job Search, House Search, Flight Search, Car Rental Search....
There are many implications of such developments, including better search relevance for users, new marketing and advertising options for site owners, and yes - more revenue streams for Google!
Google has already started to commercialize such capabilities with its flights search ads that appear in place of AdWords and allow users to search four of the top flight aggregators directly from search results.
Google's conversion tracking capabilities have a long way to go, but could we soon see Google offering CPA deals? If so, this may only be good news for the main players as CPA typically has a big management overhead compared to CPC.
But it's not all good news for the corporates--especially when it comes to publishers who are already losing classified revenue hand over fist to Craigslist and eBay. A Google classified search would quickly become THE destination for job, car and house seekers, and free feeds offered to all classified sites, big and small, would place additional pressure on the traditional publishers who have relied on their paper classified revenues for many decades.