Vertical search is the new breed of Search Engines that more intelligently mine data, from searching for keywords in audio files to focusing on specific industry sectors.

The landscape of Search is changing and I recently noticed three vertical search applications, which may end up threatening Google’s position.

The first application, is run by a company known as, who’s core business is essentially providing a search engine for podcasts. The search engine works by using a patent-pending heatmap technology, which guides users to the content topics that they wish to see or hear.

For instance, if you click on the demo video on the front page of, and search for the term ‘Google’ it will highlight all the areas where Google is spoken about on the video timeline.

Meanwhile, the colour scale on the timeline uses heatmap technology to highlight other words that may also be relevant in the video. In this example, some other words are highlighted as possibly relevant are ‘YouTube’ and ‘internet’. A true innovation in search technology.

Pluggd was founded by Alex Castro who at Microsoft was formerly the Group Program Manager for the MSN Entertainment unit, which included the MSN Music, Video, Movies, and TV websites.

The second application is, the travel-based search engine focused on airline tickets. The clever bit comes from applying the idea of the stock market to buying the tickets, which helps you decide the best time to buy a ticket.

For example, if you are looking to buy a ticket from New York to Boston (UK cities are coming) then Farecast will display a graph of all the current prices, and the added benefit of showing you if current prices for tickets are rising or falling. A very neat bit of technology for the thousands of price-sensitive surfers.

Hugh Crean is the CEO of Farecast, who previously had a high flying career at where he was their Vice President of Product Development. Other notable positions he has held are with DLJ, Viacom, and AC Nielsen/Dun & Bradstreet. 

The third and final application, called Retrevo, boasts a search engine that is dedicated to the electronics industry. For example, if you search for a ‘Samsung 26 tv’ on it provides the work of five search engines in one, aggregating and indexing the following information:

1) Product Manuals
2) Results from the manufacturers website
3) Results from Forums and Blogs
4) Reviews and articles, and
5) Shopping sites.

The whole world of electronics is confusing enough but this is the only search engine I can find that organises and categorises the data in a sensible way.

As you can see, the landscape for search is changing and there are some very high flying entrepreneurs entering this market place. This does seem to pose a threat to Google, however, there will always be a trade-off between generic and specialised applications for search.

Indeed, we may soon use a new breed of search engines, get fed up with the vast range in years to come, and move full circle back to single platforms like Google. Who knows?

Do leave a comment below if you know of any new vertical search applications out there…


Max Worton is founder of SEO agency


, where he maintains a