Monday, April 04, 2005

Vertical Search Engines and Aggregators

last week, walt mossberg wrote about two new search services that focused deeply on a particular vertical segment. i wanted to share my own thoughts on this concept and the categories he highlights.

jobs - indeed.com - he points out that indeed is aggregating most big job sites. my first question is whether the most important driver for a job applicant is comprehensiveness. we hired a terrific office manager slash 10 other roles on craigslist. she said she chose craig because he offered 'the best' jobs. by this she meant the most relevant organic (created there) jobs for her search. in her case, this meant jobs from real people (hiring managers like me) and not from recruiters, or worse, staffing firms who she says will regularly bait and switch to harvest more resumes. i'd like to hear from people what the use case is for most comprehensive in jobs. seems to me that relevance (ie. not wasting time sifting through a lot of wrong results is more important).

if this search aggregation follows the path that the overall web serach took, the winner will be the 'google' of each space, meaning the company that shows me the 3 results that meet my criteria and not the 3000. anyone remember being impressed with alta vista that it searched the 'whole' web? anyone remember using alta vista to find anything quickly? no. it was a project.
Indeed's search results were often too vague. A search for "screenwriter" in California turned up postings for office assistants, movie producers and even someone to remove a computer virus -- but none for actual screenwriters.


people - ziggs - course i've been talking about the coming peopleweb and this sounds like one of the first aggregators out there, however, i dont get the business model. why would i pay $25 to be listed in their directory when i can get found on the web way more often in google? oh wait, they also will buy my name on google for $50 a year...lets see, if i got googled 100 times a week, and clicked on 10% of the time (which is high but i'm vain:) and it costs $0.10 per click, that would be $1 per month. whoa, high margin biz! i'd pay the folks at ziggs a lot just for the list of consumers who were that dumb and lazy! maybe they could call it the 'buy a bridge in brooklyn' list. also, how will anyone ever know to use this site? will it be so massively popular that a year from now we'll all be saying, 'hey, i'm going to go zigg that hottie'? if so, i'll eat my blog (and buy their customer list too:) maybe they should have called it 'shag.com'. at least i'd remember it and have more fun saying 'have you shagged me yet?'

and what's ironic is that people is the place you really do want comprehensiveness and relevance, but mossberg says...
And it seems to be aimed more at helping people and companies promote themselves than at providing comprehensive information. Ziggs search results provide only neutral or flattering biographies, not information that might warn you away from a person.

now here's what i dont get, when i 'zigged' myself it only shows me a 'mr mark pincus of pittsburgh'. if i google myself, i own the whole page. if this site is less comprehensive than google why would anyone ever use it?

one funny (to me) aside on this whole topic is that two yrs ago when i started playing with all this stuff, i bought my name on google (course now i could just pay $50 for it:). i described this as the ultimate web vanity plates. bonus is google tells you how many times you've been 'zigged', or i mean googled. jonathan abrams (who was found by ziggs but third on the list. wonder if he paid the $25?) outbid me on my name and put up an ad saying 'get the real scoop on pincus for $25). taught me a fast lesson about this new world where anyone can 'own' your name.

where will this all lead? how far are we from anti fan blogs where girls can 'out' players, employees can 'out' ruthless bosses? we already had fucked company. anyone want to launch fucked boyfriend or fucked boss or how about fucked vc? i'll sell you my domain, 'ratemyvc.com', which is a more polite version:)

all listings - oodle. this is a sight that didnt get featured by mossberg. it was just launched by craig donato and does a good job of aggregating all local listings for 3 cities to start with. my question is how will they get repeat traffic at a cost that allows them a profit with google ad sense? and what will happen when everyone becomes an aggregator, or worse, a standard emerges allowing all listings originators to publish their listings in whatever fashion they choose? what role will aggregators have when they have a disadvantage in traffic acquisition and no advantage in aggregating? this smart guy, jason dowdell, sees this as the beginning of a wave of vertical search players.