Vertical Search Wars

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Fred Wilson and Tom Evslin disagree on the future of vertical search. Fred blogs that vertical search is here to stay:

“If I was looking for a job, I’d go to Indeed instead of Google. Why would I use [this service]? Because the results are orders of magnitude better than what Google produces for the same search term.”

Although Tom Evslin blogs that a “vertical search engine is an oxymoron”, he admits in the same post that “specialized sites will continue to have specialized search interfaces for their own content – particularly if the content itself is inherently structured.” But why should such specialized search interfaces necessarily be restricted to a single site’s content? In fact, “specialized search interfaces for inherently structured data across the web” would be a pretty good definition of a vertical search engine.

If evidence is needed for the fact that no single search interface can be used to sift through all the various kinds of data on the web, Google already has vertical search services that are, from the user’s point of view, quite separate from its main search engine. Image Search, News, and Froogle are some of the best known.

Perhaps the argument is that one search company or brand is sufficient for all imaginable types of vertical search. That is the “Google can do everything” school of thought. Theoretically that may be true, but it doesn’t appear to be evolving that way. Google doesn’t have a monopoly on general web search and is unlikely to have a monopoly on vertical search.