The concept of vertical search engines has been around for
quite a few years. In fact, Alacra
One of the emerging leaders in this space is
Rollyo. Named for “roll your own” search
engine, Rollyo allows you to select up to twenty five websites and create a
custom search engine indexing just those sites.
Users can create multiple “searchrolls” for different topics. Or, a user could create a searchroll containing news from your favorite news sites for a given topic. And, as with any good Web 2.0 app, you can easily share your searchrolls with others, providing a social component to search indexes.
So, who needs a personal search engine? Most of us do, actually. While there are times when you want to search
the entire Internet for some obscure information, there are many other times
when you want to search “trusted sources” which can provide you with more
relevant results. There are numerous
technologies out there which try to use statistical or linguistic approaches to
disambiguate terms with multiple meanings. But, if your search index contains only sites related to island-hopping,
there’s no confusion over which “Java” you’re search for.
For a quick test drive of a personal search engine, try out the Content Industry Searchroll which I created in about three minutes using Rollyo. Try terms like tagging, workflow or blog and see how the results are more relevant than in a full search engine. Want to learn how Pfizer uses content-related technologies? Just enter "Pfizer" in the search box and browse the results. That would be an impossible search to do using Google on the full web.
What’s the implication for publishers?
Publishers, particularly trade press, enthusiast
publications or industry-specific information publishers are well-suited to
provide vertical search to their users. Whether
it’s indexing surfer sites for Surfer Magazine, building and construction
sites for McGraw Hill’s CIG or political coverage for CQ, enabling users to
search an editorially-chosen set of trusted content is a tremendous value.
I have heard many database publishers complain that the Internet
is eating away at their business and that they are having difficulty retaining
customers. Creating a vertical search
engine is an effective and manageable way to add significant value to your
content beyond what Google, Yahoo and Microsoft can deliver. After all, you’ve been saying for years that
you add editorial value beyond simple compilation. Well, roll your own and prove it.