The Death of SEO?

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Currently in beta, Subscription Search will give people the ability to search subscription sites such as the Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, the New England Journal of Medicine and TheStreet.com directly through Yahoo. It’s like a website search page is built into your browser. People who subscribe to those sites can search for articles they are interested in and automatically be directed to the information they want. People without subscriptions will still be barred from viewing those sites.

Pasternack argues that this development will spark a trend where people will be searching fewer and fewer websites (instead of the billions tracked by Google) to find the specific information they want.

Instead of marking the end of SEO, though, he says this will make optimization even more important. When your site is up against two or three competing sites as the only results a searcher sees, you’ll want your SEO to be perfect so they choose your site.

But while organic search might have lost some of its charm, SEO has gained a tremendous amount of importance for the top-brand companies. Because, if subscription search catches on as well as it does, then two things will happen: 1) people will increasingly use the search engines for what is, in effect, site-search; and 2) you’ll be competing with your closest competitors in Search more fiercely than ever.

Which really means that 3) you should start looking at the search engines as your pre-site sitemap. And, in a SERP that only shows results from three websites – yours and those of your two top competitors – you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure that you win in that SERP.

So your SEO needs to be absolutely, positively stellar. Not only in terms of getting positioning for your site, but in terms of being able to describe and present exactly the right landing page to the searcher who’s looking for what happens to be on your site. Because if you don’t do a stellar job of that, that doesn’t mean that your competition won’t.