The major players of the search engine world are constantly tweaking their algorithms in an effort to improve their results. While each one would like you to think that their results are more relevant than the next, I can’t help but wonder if this is where the true opportunity lies.
While I agree that some engines are clearly better than others at what they do; whether they return better results, have a more user friendly interface or simply do a reasonable job filtering spam, this is not what this post is about, and so I will keep these opinions to myself.
What I would like to explore is the potential opportunities of niche market search engines. After all, the major players can tweak their algorithms over and over and when it’s all said and done there is only so much they can do in regards to relevancy. While I don’t want them to stop improving their results, there will inevitably come a day when our answers aren’t always going to be found within the 10 results that are generated on the page of text we call search results. We are no longer in a world with a limited internet, and search engines can not always provide the best information for each type of query.
Not to say that niche market engines don’t already exist; there are many already trying to establish themselves in their associated markets and more are popping up all the time.
A few notables include:
Kosmix.com: This search engine allows users to select specific topics that include health, finance, travel, US politics and even video games to perform a search within.
ZoomInfo.com: This search engine is designed to provide information specifically about people, companies and relationships.
Big.com: This search engine doesn’t target a niche market, but rather a niche demographic. Displaying search results in a larger format, Big.com is sure to gain in popularity as we all continue to age.
Become.com: This, along with many others, is a vertical shopping engine that allows users to find consumer products on e-commerce sites by a variety of different criteria.
Scirus.com: For the scientific community, this search engine provides a portal to the world of scientific information.
Globalspec.com: This engine is specifically for engineers and targets information and products relevant to the scientific and technical markets.
CitySearch.com: In their words, “Your Guide to Everything Local”, this engine allows you to search for products, information and services specific to your geographic location.
I guess the fate of these engines will come down to good old marketing, as it always does, though. While they do provide a good resource for these niche markets, success will only come after people begin to find them. Once discovered by their target audiences, these niche engines will surely get used, get bookmarked, get recommend to peers and get the opportunity for prosperity and longevity within the competitive world of search.