Vertical Search - Brian Combs IS08


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Vertical Search and how it Can Rock Your World (as seen at Interactive Strategies 2008).

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Vertical Search - Brian Combs IS08

  1. 1. Vertical Search And How It’s Going to Rock Your World Brian Combs Senior VP & Chief Futurist October 22, 2008
  2. 2. Just a few of our happy clients…
  3. 3. Who’s talking about us…
  4. 4. Why we *might* know something (aka Shameless Plug Slide) • Apogee Search is the largest “pure-play” online marketing firm in the Southwest, and one of the 10 largest nationwide – 150+ clients, including National Public Radio, Golfsmith, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Olive Garden, PerkinElmer, SAP, Hewlett Packard, Gannett Digital, Shell, + numerous VC-backed technology firms – Paid Search, Organic Search, Online Media, Website Effectiveness • Our management team built *the first* company to ever sell a million dollars of product on the internet • Our management team has been doing search engine optimization since 1995, and paid search since early 1998 (within 1 week of its start) • Founder’s background includes McKinsey & Co., Dell, and executive roles at successful, private-equity-backed firms • All programs are results-focused and metrics-based
  5. 5. Why we *might* NOT know something (aka Reality Slide) • Once you have something figured out, it is probably about to change on you • There are many roads to Rome • Hubris is the beginning of humiliation • What works for someone else, might not work for you I’m a Cowboys fan: • Cowboys 14 - Rams 34 • Texans 28 - Lions 21
  6. 6. Vertical Search • Specialized search engines focused on a particular field, type of information, or file format. • Examples include: – Image Search – Email Search – Video Search – Book Search – Local/Map Search – Scholar Search – Blog Search – Finance Search – News Search – Industry Vertical Search – Shopping Search
  7. 7. Image Search
  8. 8. Image Search • Pictures that are “Closely Related” to the Query • Use with Visually Interesting Topics • Optimization Tips: – Descriptive image file name – Unique ALT text in IMG tag – Captions and descriptive text near images – Create original images branded with your logo – Use the word “picture” or “image” in your file names and ALT texts – Turn on enhanced image search in Google Webmaster Tools (allows reviews of your images by others)
  9. 9. Video Search
  10. 10. Video Search • Video Files Closely Related to the Query • Either Crawler- or Upload-Based Indexing • Works Best if Content is Unique, Interesting and Instructive (Two of Three, at least) • Optimization Tips: – Surround video with HTML – Tags and comments are critical – Brand your videos and include a call to action – Large video libraries should have their own sitemap – Links still very important!
  11. 11. Local/Map Search
  12. 12. Local/Map Search • Listings Connected to Specific Geographic Regions • Sometimes Mashed with a Mapping System • Register with Each Engine: – Go to and click “Add or Edit Your Business” – Go to and follow steps – Go to and click on “Help” in upper right corner • Optimization Tips: – Include City, State in title tag – Add physical address to page (footer?) – Backlinks from local directories – Backlinks with geo targeted anchor text • Google is Cracking Down on Keyword Stuffed Company Names
  13. 13. Blog Search
  14. 14. Blog Search • Similar to traditional text listings, except that the content comes from a blog • Great for time-sensitive content • Indexed by RSS/Site Feed • Optimized Tips: – Page elements (Title, Meta, URL) – Ping the search engines – Categorize and tag posts – Update frequently – Links stil matter (especially for site authority)
  15. 15. News Search
  16. 16. News Search • Similar to traditional text listings, except that the content comes from a news site. • Indexed by RSS/Site Feed (Must be Approved) • Optimization Tips: – Publish at least three times a day – Unique H1 or H2 that matches page title – URLs that at least appear static – Multiple authors – Articles longer than 200 words – Images within articles may be returned separately
  17. 17. Shopping Search
  18. 18. Shopping Search • Product Listings that Link to Ecommerce Sites • Indexed by Product Data Feed (Mostly) • Users are Highly Price Sensitive • Optimization Tips: – Start with high margin product lines, where you have room to learn by error – Use primary keywords in product title – Use secondary keywords in product description – Include the manufacturer’s reference numbers – Remove out of stock items
  19. 19. Blended Search “It’s essentially the largest revision we’ve made in the past two or three years” - Sergey Brin, Google • It’s Not All Text • Increases Inventory for the Search Engines – Users are roughly twice as likely to click on a vertical result on a general SERP than on a result in a vertical engine (Jupiter) • Additive or Subtractive to Other Listings • Can Push Listings Below the Fold • Blended Search is a Game Changer!
  20. 20. Advantages of Blended Search • Vertical Listings More Prominent • Accesses All Searchers – Usage of vertical engines is low – Blended results are returned on the standard SERP – Capitalize on digital assets without changing user behavior • Opportunity to Grab More SERP Real Estate – Procter & Gamble strategy – Great for reputation management • Many Verticals are Less Competitive
  21. 21. Houston Texans, Google
  22. 22. Houston Texans, Yahoo
  23. 23. Houston Texans, MSN Live
  24. 24. Barack Obama, Google
  25. 25. Barack Obama, Yahoo
  26. 26. Barack Obama, MSN Live
  27. 27. John McCain, Google
  28. 28. John McCain, Yahoo
  29. 29. John McCain, MSN Live
  30. 30. Taylor Swift, Google
  31. 31. Taylor Swift, Yahoo
  32. 32. Taylor Swift, MSN Live
  33. 33. Vertical & Blended Search Best Practices • It’s Become Much More Complicated • Assess Current Digital Inventory – What do you have? – What can you create? • Define the Search Landscape for your Category – Proactively Consider Enhanced Media • Start with Your Images • Target Local Results • Start a Blog (If You Can/Will Maintain It) • Keep Your Messaging Consistent
  34. 34. Additional Resources (and Q&A) • Apogee Search Blog: • Apogee Glossary: • WebMaster World: • DigitalPoint Forums: • Search Engine Land: • Sphinn: • Daily SearchCast: • John Battelle’s Searchblog ( • MarketingSherpa: • ClickZ: