How Will Personalized Search Affect Niche Engines?

    December 18, 2008
    Chris Crum

As I was writing a piece on RushmoreDrive, the search engine (and more) that was created as a way to provide relevant results from the black community, I started thinking about how the future of search could impact its use and the use of niche search engines in general. Unfortunately, I have more questions than answers on this topic, but it raises some interesting questions nonetheless.

Search is said to be going in a more personalized direction. Different people are going to get different results when they search for something on Google. Between SearchWiki and their behavioral-based SERP delivery, people are going to get results that are relevant to their specific tastes. That is the theory behind the concept at least.

Will Niche Search Engines Lose Traffic?

Frankly, I don’t use many of them incredibly often (there are a few), and they are seldom mentioned in search market share reports. I believe they are mostly used in scenarios where you want to find a broad range of information under a specific category or genre. If it is a category that you are really interested in and search on a daily basis, you are theoretically going to get these kinds of results from Google as a result of their behavioral-based plan. It could cut into whatever market share niche engines already have.

Will Niche Search Engines Gain Traffic?

On the other hand, it could potentially drive traffic to niche engines. If Google is delivering you results based on past behavior, you might want to go elsewhere to get something a little fresher on some topics. In other words, if Google is excluding some results in favor of results it thinks you would rather see, you may be inclined to go somewhere else to get the results you are missing out on.

I can see it going either way. It’s hard to say how it will shake out before it really goes full throttle. A lot of it will depend on how well Google truly gets to know you. I suspect there will be a lot of privacy talk on this subject, but that’s a different subject altogether.

Do niche search engines have anything to worry about?

What are your thoughts on this? Will personalized search lend to increased or decreased niche search engine use? Will it have any effect at all?

Of course reputation management is something to think about as a result of these changes as well.