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Benefits of Vertical Search Engines

Sep 1, 2007
by Alfred Branch Jr.

The Internet is a vast repository of information which can seduce busy wholesale buyers to spend hours searching for products and services for their businesses. Search engines such as Google, MSN, and Yahoo can bring the entire web to someone's desktop, but what wholesale buyers want are specialized search results specifically geared to what they are looking for. Vertical search engines can do this.

A vertical search engine is a specialized search tool that mines data on a specific topic, and shows results for that particular niche. For example, a job site dedicated to engineers could be considered a vertical search engine, because it looks for information about only that topic. Industry analysts project that revenues generated by vertical search engines will exceed $1 billion over the next two to three years, as an increasing number of businesses seek out specialized search engines for information and advertising. David Hills, CEO of the vertical search company, LookSmart, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, "There are times when you are looking for something discrete, and from an efficiency standpoint, a vertical search engine may help you find what is essential to you."

According to Alex Iskold, founder and CEO of the vertical search engine consultancy, AdaptiveBlue, while the large search engines process and disseminate a considerably wider spectrum of information, vertical search engines often operate better, because those applications have deeper knowledge of, "the semantics of information in their topics."

Although the search giant, Google, continues to become more dominant by the day, large meta search engines do not always yield the results a user is looking for. A meta search engine yields tens of thousands of related results. Such a massive number gives a user the information they want, but it will be somewhere in the tangle of offerings. How often does that user go beyond the first few pages of results? Some estimates put the failure rate at greater than 30 percent.

Down to Business
While there are numerous vertical search engines covering various aspects of the wholesale market, is the only one that brings together wholesaler buyers and sellers specifically looking for information on the general merchandise industry.

Say a buyer is looking for a wholesale supplier of denim jeans. He might start by typing denim jeans suppliers into Google, and get hundreds of results that include denim, jeans, or suppliers, all of which will be among dozens of unrelated results. The buyer could waste a lot of time clicking through to find what he's looking for.

The more efficient way to search for suppliers of denim jeans is to go to a vertical search engine, such as, where there are dozens of apparel wholesalers, many of whom specialize in denim jeans. Vertical search engines cut out a lot of the chatter a user has to comb through.

"Vertical search engines send their [computer] spider bots out to a highly refined database, and their indexes contain information about specific topics," said Seth Olson, an Internet and entertainment website designer and consultant with "As a result, those vertical search engines are of the most value to people interested in a particular area. Companies that advertise on these search engines have a much better return on investment to reach a specific target audience."

Power Searching
On, one way to take advantage of its search qualities is to do a Wholesale Power Search, which gives wholesale buyers a way to find products or suppliers quickly and easily. Searching for merchandise does not require registration, but to access all its features, users benefit from becoming members.

Using the Wholesale Power Search is as simple as typing the desired product into the search box on the home page, then clicking the Find Product button. What the user sees next is what vertical searches are all about: the next page lists the suppliers on the site who carry that product.

Searching for denim jeans yields 196 matches, but boasts more than 1,200 general merchandise suppliers, with more names added all the time. In the column on the right side of the search results page are featured sellers; suppliers that paid additional money for a premium spot on that page.

Most of the search results have a picture of the item, and clicking on the picture or the item link takes the buyer to the vendor's website or their store. Underneath the link is a description of the item, and the category in the vendor's store where it is located. The wholesale price for the product comes next, usually the price per unit, followed by the date when the vendor updated the item. If there is no date, the vendor's storefront is on, where listings are updated automatically on a daily basis.

In addition to the Wholesale Power Search feature, there are additional ways for wholesale buyers to find what they want, including Deals & Steals, Licensed Products, and the Wholesale Index.

Deals & Steals displays sales, special promotions, liquidations, and other deals that wholesalers are offering. They are listed in date order, and each supplier is verified by New deals are uploaded daily, and removed after seven days.

Licensed Products is a listing of name brand and trademarked products. The list is organized alphabetically, and contains dozens of the most popular general merchandise brands. Like Deals & Steals, it is updated regularly. Clicking on one of the licensed names brings the buyer to a page with all the suppliers who carry items with that trademark, and a description of the items. If a small shopping cart appears to the left of the listing, the company has a store.

The Wholesale Index offers buyers's version of general merchandise market research, because it reflects the most popular product searches on Sellers can use the index to learn monthly market trends among the top 100 searched items on the site.

Each link goes to a page listing all the wholesalers who are selling a particular product. The listing has a brief description of the item, its price, and the seller's name, and most are accompanied by photographs. A click takes the retailer to the supplier's website or store front.

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Topic: Web Tech Tips

Related Articles: search engines 

Article ID: 307

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