Read the title. What does it mean? â€œVertical marketingâ€ is a response to an increasing trend toward niche searches and finely divided communities. Vertical markets have always existed, of course. Not a lot of people need pelagic hydraulic fluids, for example. (In fact, even though I toured the linked site, Iâ€™m still not 100% sure what they are!) Increasingly, natural vertical markets are being joined by niches that have been â€œverticalizedâ€ by the evolving nature of searches and communities.
It works like this: As searchers grow more competent and a generation of digital natives grows into the web, they start to use increasingly specific searches. These people have already gone through the â€œexploration phase;â€ theyâ€™ve searched for all kinds of crazy things and know how to find local news, look up things on Wikipedia and hang out at their favorite social sites. They fire up Google to find very specific items and know how to use advanced search commands like Boolean modifiers to pare away the noise. This paper on search trends notes that the number of searchers using more complex techniques was increasing even before the new millennium. Over time, the number of naÃ¯ve, overly-broad searches will eventually dwindle to almost nothing.
As the average searcher gets smarter, technology and marketing techniques evolve to serve them: Here are three of many trends that cater to the web audienceâ€™s increasingly specialized tastes:
Niche portals: These are a mix of communities and commercial sites designed to direct traffic to a particular sector. Naturally, this sort of thing has been around for a long time, but the days of Webrings and Top 100 lists are past us. Now, if you want to find a pet sitter or something similar thereâ€™s a search tool out there for you.
Personalized search: Google introduced it, withdrew it and retooled it as an integrated tool. Now, Google Web History not only provides advanced search history management, but tweaks future results based on the trends it identifies.
Wikis: Of course, the most reliable way to get relevant content is to either write it yourself or find a community of contributors with the same tastes. Communities increasingly host their own specialized wikis to showcase a combination of original content and links to launch to related sites â€“ and of course, Wikia is there to help them.
This is just the start. Once search tools and sites really adapt to each other, the result will be a seamless path to searching entirely within a niche â€œsandbox.â€ Internet marketing and SEO will adapt or be irrelevant â€“ but some existing techniques are very relevant. Social marketing and long tail keywords are just two ways to work in a future where #1 on a generic Google search just wonâ€™t cut it.