7 min read

What Does “Specialized Search Engine” Mean?

Yext takes a deep dive into specialized search engines and how your company can leverage them to drive website traffic and conversions.

By Yext

Oct 21, 2021

7 min read

When you think of search engines, the first thing that comes to mind is Google, right? It's no wonder, considering that Google accounts for 76% and 86% of desktop and mobile searches, respectively.

However, there are other options — and we're not just talking about Bing. There are specialized search engines that are easier to configure SEO for. Let's break down the nitty-gritty details of specialized search engines in the sections below.

What Are Specialized Search Engines?

As the name implies, specialized search engines, or vertical search engines, function differently than major search engines like Google. They only list web pages that are categorized within their specific niche. Specialized search engines will often list numerous pages that would never come up on a Google search — or at least, not in the first five pages.

Vertical search engines perform a deep dive into a specific topic or industry by performing a pre-search of available websites. Websites are only included as possible search results if they meet enough criteria to qualify as belonging to the niche. Though specialized search engines have been around for years for consumers, they're recently expanding for B2B articles, too, with the glut of information on the web currently available.

Isn't That A Web Directory?

Web directories are often confused with specialized search engines since they both list websites within their niche, but they actually function a bit differently. Web directories only feature websites that the owners chose or had submitted.

Specialized search engines are constantly on the lookout for new websites that contain content within their specialty to add and are dynamic resources.

Why Specialized Search Engines Exist

Now, customers rarely find your site's homepage and decide to explore from there. They have questions, and they want answers — answers that your company can provide. Many consumers find new websites by entering a question or key terms related to their question into a search engine and then clicking around within a website that answers their questions.

Specialized search engines may not be as popular as web search engines like Google, but they are far more efficient for clients searching for something specific. There are specialized search engines for almost every topic a customer could think of, so you likely won't have to worry that there isn't a place for your business.

Specialized search engines aren't just easier for businesses to navigate; they're actually made to make things simpler for customers too. When you want to find out specific information or a niche product, using a specialized search engine filters out all of the tangentially related information so you can quickly find exactly what you're looking for.

Instead of clicking on multiple pages for websites that don't offer the right type of service, or something similar that Google has classified as the same, you can get your answers in a timely manner through trustworthy websites contained in the specialized search engine. Plus, the search engine is constantly looking for new websites to showcase that might not normally show up in the top-ranked Google results.

Examples of Specialized Search Engines

Along with general-purpose search engines and a travel search engine, one popular example of a specialized search engine is LinkedIn. You can search for potential employees, companies that are hiring, and jobs in specific industries. With LinkedIn's search capabilities, you can narrow your search based on keywords, industry, type (i.e., are you searching for people or companies), and other important aspects.

Facebook and other social media websites offer similar types of specialized search engines built into their platforms, making it easy to find posts about your specified topic or subject matter. However, many specialized search engines are completely separate from social networking sites and work to match potential employers with qualified candidates, like Indeed.

Other examples include:

  • Zillow for housing listings

  • Kayak for travel opportunities like flights, hotels, and car rentals

  • Pinterest for pictures

For B2B articles and blog posts, specialized search engines can be the best way for SMB to increase their visibility. Ranking high in Google is hard enough for enterprise businesses and often impossible for fledgling companies.

With specialized search engines, you can drive traffic to your website and increase your customer base.

Leveraging Specialized Search Engines

Specialized search engines have specific benefits that balance out the decreased visibility of using internet search engines. By understanding these benefits, you can make an informed decision for your business and increase website traffic.

SEO for Specialized Search Engines

While Google is obviously a big contributor to website traffic, you can't rely solely on customers finding you through their search engine. It's simply too much work and money to stay near the top of Google search results. Most businesses would rather spend that effort somewhere else, not topping the Google chart.

Sudden drops in ranking or being banned from Google could result in your business losing an enormous amount of traffic unless you've built up traffic from alternative sources. Why not let your competitors fight it out for first page Google rankings while you pull in consumers from specialized search engines?

Mastering SEO for specialized search engines is far easier than with generic search engines, but it is also significantly different. With generic search engines, you need tons of keywords to show Google what category your website falls into, the products or services you offer, and aspects of your company on a very basic level. When you can search the term "pizza" and see everything from restaurants to cutlery stores, it's hard to dive in deeper.

With specialized search engines, though, customers already know their general product or service. They're using the specialized search engine for a reason: they know what they want.

Your website doesn't need as many keywords just to show that you sell novelty kitchenware; it's already been classified as such by virtue of appearing in that search engine.

Instead, you can focus on what makes you different from your competitors and highlight keywords demonstrating the value your company adds by answering common questions from customers.

Higher Conversion Rates

Similar to what we mentioned in the section above, customers who find your website through a specialized search engine are far more likely to flow through the conversion funnel and purchase your products or services. When people use specialized search engines, it's because they already know what they're looking for.

FAQ Posts

Yext Pages provide the technical and design components you need to ensure that your brand facts are AI-ready — to turn searchers into customers. With Yext, you can easily build search engine indexes, FAQ pages, blog posts, or other types of content that go to the heart of your customers' search queries and provide the relevant results they want.

Made for Improving Workflows

On the business side, specialized search engines are much more convenient for quickly finding the relevant pages with answers to work-related questions and facilitating workflows.

When you're searching for facts to pull into a compilation report, you don't want to be distracted by irrelevant search results or top-ranked websites that have nothing to do with your current research.

However, unlike a generic search engine, specialized search engines also give you the tools to take action within your workflow. If you're looking for a house for sale, Google or Yahoo! might be able to pull up locations, but Zillow will let you make an appointment to view the house or put an offer in on a location.

Search Engines Within Your Website

Supercharge your website with a natural language search experience that returns direct answers to consumers' questions—no matter how they ask them. When your website has direct, informative content and calls-to-action present front and center, it makes it easier for potential customers to proceed down the conversion funnel and transact on that page.

With a meta search engine, you can build a database to keep track of user's queries to see where you might be missing out on opportunities to drive business. Our insightful search interface analytics let you find areas where your website could use additional or more specific content to answer customer questions better. Plus, when customers can find what they're looking for, they won't need help from support staff or live chats so that you can save money and time.

In Summary

Google may be the search engine giant, but it isn't the answer to everything. Specialized search engines provide a higher conversion rate and let your company stand out from the crowd by honing in on competitive differences. SEO is more straightforward, so you can spend your time and energy focusing on running your business and expanding your customer base.

See how your business can deliver verified answers to searching consumers, helping drive discovery and revenue with Yext.


  1. Web Directories and Specialized Search Engines | Webconfs.com

  2. Search Engine Statistics 2021 | 99 Firms

  3. Beyond Google: How to Perform SEO for Other Search Engines | Neil Patel

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