Insights

31st May 2018

Why search is more than Google and 6 best practices for a vertical search campaign

The search landscape is rapidly reshaping thanks to the surge in vertical search engines, such as Amazon and the growth of mobile and voice trends.

Search is all around us. Whether spoken, typed or tapped, search queries are constantly used by consumers to discover information and make choices. The power of search is present not only in our computers as it always has been but also in our smartphones and our AI digital assistants, such as the Amazon Alexa.

Search is becoming more sophisticated, dynamic and fragmented. Whilst this offers challenges, it also allows for opportunity.

Even a search engine as big as Google must evolve constantly to ensure it can give users the content they want.

In order to arrive at the right result as quickly as possible, an increasing number of consumers prefer the specialised nature of a vertical search engine.

At the crossroads of these trends, the rise of the vertical search engine has organically occurred — and it has significant implications for all marketers.

What is a vertical search engine?

Put simply, a vertical search engine focuses on one specific industry or type of content.

The advantages for consumers is that these sites have the benefit of a pure focus on one area of activity or business, which can offer faster, more accurate results for users.

Although this may cause alarm bells for marketers with one specific type of product or service to sell, it can actually offer an advantage. They can meet their audience when their search intent is clear and can focus their energies on a platform that they know is more likely to deliver results.

Google’s universal search does index and rank image results alongside video and local listings, meaning it’s a cluster of verticals into a more conventional, horizontal search engine. Google also indexes content hosted on vertical search engines, so it is possible to see social media and video results within Google search results.

Google is clearly eager to develop new technologies to gain market share in profitable verticals and there can be no doubt that it wants to maintain the attention of consumers before they start their searches elsewhere.

Making the most of vertical search optimization (VSO)

The first point for marketers to consider is the nature of consumer behaviour in the different vertical search engines for their brand. Consumer demands and expectations will differ based on the search engine used. Vertical search engines are usually used for a specific reason and brands should create content that matches each search engine.

Six best practices:

To begin with, here are six best practices that can be applied to a vertical search optimisation campaign:

  1. Research audience behaviours across different search engines
  2. Use structured data and Open Graph tags to help search engines locate and understand your content.
  3. Assess consumer paths on your website or apps – focus on fixing any challenges users have in accessing content.
  4. Ensure technical elements of your site, such as load speed, are optimised to allow for better performance
  5. Adapt your content for each search engine
  6. Use specific integrations with vertical search engines that can allow your website content to be served within their results.
Summary

SEO is starting to become more than simply trying to rank on Google. Future strategies will need to evolve alongside the changes that are being witnessed in search behaviours and content opportunities.

Each vertical brings with it a new set of consumer demands, but search engines still rely on contextual signals to filter through their vast index of content. This means that alongside onsite optimisation, we need to ensure that content can be served to our audience, across any search engine or social network.

The search landscape will undoubtedly develop further over the coming months, with companies such as Amazon, Pinterest and Facebook looking set to grow. Google itself is more complex than ever before, so it is possible that a slight focus on vertical search engines could benefit marketers.

In response, the challenge for marketers is to provide a cohesive strategy across an ever-increasing number of touch points by using new the technologies available combined with a deep understanding of an audience.

For more help improving your marketing campaigns, get in contact with the experts at Varn today.