Until recently there was one dominant flavor of internet search and that flavor was Google. Lately, Yahoo! and Microsoft have redoubled their efforts at taking market share from Google, but for broad-based web searching (and the related pay-per-click advertising revenue) Google remains the king. But there is a strong trend toward more niche or vertical search engines and search-based services, and I expect this trend will continue through this year and next. There are a handful of established vertical search engines (we used to have one called Portal B) and new entrants are popping up pretty regularly, in some cases taking different forms. For jobs, there’s Simply Hired and Indeed; for travel there’s Kayak, Mobissimo and SideStep, for real-estate there’s Trulia.
Examples for business-oriented information are bitpipe, Knowledgestorm and IT, which cover technology whites papers and similar information; ESE for economics; verticalsearch, a new B2B entrant; and Ziggs, ZoomInfo and Jigsaw for people.
Can all these vertical search engines survive? Certainly not if they plan to compete in the PPC advertising space. But if there’s commerce or services attached to the search engine, there’s a much better chance for success. There will be plenty of new entrants with this business model this year. For more information on vertical search engines, see What is Vertical Search? in today’s InfoWorld online.