Vertical Search

A vertical search refers to search on a specific topic area or a specific segment of an overall search. There are vertical or specialized search engines. An example of a vertical search is Google Image Search. Typical vertical search queries include shopping, travel, cars, medical information, and books.


Due to its rapid growth, the world-wide web offers an enormous number of possible link destinations when a search query is initiated via a search engine. With a Vertical Search, it is possible to narrow down the search query in advance, in order to obtain even more precise results that could possibly not be obtained from the general search.

Advantages of vertical search[edit]

A vertical search offers three advantages over a general search engine:

  • Greater precision due to limited index
  • Reaching the search destination faster
  • More user friendly

Google vertical search engines[edit]

Google is one of the leading search engines and works with its own specialized search engines. There are separate indexes for each. Some vertical search functions, e.g. The airline search has been integrated into Google’s general search by taking over companies. The results are then output directly as soon as special search operators are recognized by the algorithms.

Google doesn’t only have specialized search engines as almost exclusive Google search products, it also integrates results from the vertical search directly above the SERPs or as part of its Knowledge Graph in the Universal Search.

Similarly, the results of the following separate vertical search engines can also be integrated into the organic search results when certain trigger keywords are used, or when the Web history of a user provides an indicator for a special search:

  • Google News: using a separate index, Google provides results on current topics. What is interpreted as news depends on the frequency and the publishing news websites.
  • Google Shopping previously Google Base: Google works like a classic price comparison tool and uses structured data for its index provided by registered merchants. Listing on Google Shopping has been subject to charges since 2013.
  • Google Images: The Google image search indexes images from websites and has its own image capture. Users can search for similar images by URL or image download.
  • Google Videos: a separate algorithm indexing videos. Users can search the web with this vertical search engine for video files.
  • Google Scholar: this special Google search provides textbooks results for the US.
  • Google Apps: allows users to search for apps offered through Google Play.
  • Google Books: Google launched its own library search, including in part complete copies of books whose copyrights have expired.
  • Google patents: this is a proprietary search database for patents.
  • GooglePlus Search: allows you to search for user postings on Google+ and view postings to specific Hashtags.
  • Google Maps: Google Maps is a type of vertical search, because it is possible to search for places, restaurants, or stores, and to locate them.
  • Blog Search: allows you to search the Google index for entries on blogs.

Similar to Google, the other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo offer their own vertical searches. They work similar to Google’s special search engines.

Typical vertical search engines[edit]

Special search engines already exist for many different topics such as clothing, apartments, cars etc. Not only do search engine providers offer their own vertical searches, but also other companies. Price comparison portals are likewise a type of vertical search. Within this group, some have specialized only in certain products such as clothing.

In addition to these publicly accessible vertical search engines, there are also special search functions provided by universities, which are only available for students and teachers to access separate databases.

Vertical search versus link directory[edit]

Link directories could in principle be viewed as vertical search engines. However, they differ from the latter in that they only “create” directories and are not based on independent algorithms or indexes. The same is true for industry books.

Vertical Search and SEO[edit]

The current search engines are continually improving. Several years ago, vertical searches were the best choice to carry out specific searches. Due to constant adaptation of algorithms, search engines like Google can use the search query to determine whether search results from special indexes should also be output.

Clear examples are the integration of images, shopping results or flight times into organic SERPs. For this reason, the task of SEOs is becoming more and more complex because a website should be optimized not only for organic index, but also for images, news, shopping results, etc., as part of a Blended Search. It can be said with some certainty that the better the content of a website is presented, the more likely it will be listed within a vertical search. As a result, things like [Accessibility|Accessibility], high-quality content, and up-to-date or current data are among the most important features to be successful in vertical searches in the long term.

The trend and the market power of providers such as Google suggest that the search engine is becoming more and more precise and that traditional vertical searches are integrated more and more into organic search results. The pressure on suppliers with special search engines will grow at the same time. In the last few years, Google alone has integrated the databases of several companies into its search engine functions. In very specific sub-sectors, companies still seem to be able to assert advantages over market leaders in the search engine market.