Since Bing launched last year, it has placed a great deal of emphasis on giving answers beyond just the "ten blue links." In reality, the major search engines each offer much more than these ten blue links (the standard of the old days of search). Google, Yahoo, and Bing each offer a variety of ways for users to obtain the information they're looking for through various search options, blended search results, and other products altogether.
Being successful in search these days is much more complicated in some ways, yet much simpler in others. As Bing's Stefan Weitz told WebProNews in a recent interview, "There's way more opportunities now I think in search than there were even a couple years ago when folks were very focused on being the number 1 algo link on an organic search result...You just have to kind of think beyond the current model."
One specific example Weitz was referring to, is Photosynth, a Bing Maps application, which lets businesses take pictures of every angle of their establishment, and let Bing put them together, so users can see all parts of the business that the business wants to be seen. As Weitz suggests, if you're a restaurant, you can show customers your "tablecloths are clean" and your "silverware is polished."
That's just one of countless examples. Photosynth isn't going to be a relevant tool for a lot of businesses, but for some, it may be great for helping to drive customers. The point is, search has changed dramatically, and continues to do so, pretty much on a daily basis.
Mobile is changing the game a great deal itself, because it offers users so many ways to interact with different apps and businesses, opening up a whole slew of different ways to acquire information.
"The mobile device is unique because it has so much context," says Wetiz. As he says, it's the most personal computer users have. You’re home computer may be used by family and friends. Your work computer may be used by other workers, but your mobile device is pretty much yours, and that means targeting is easier. Throw location into the mix, and relevance gets easier to pinpoint.
So while search marketing may be more complicated than just trying to rank these days, it is also simpler in some ways because you can just find the elements that are the most relevant to your business or to your strategy. The more resources you have, the more of these elements you may be able to conquer, but there are more opportunities to reach customers through their search habits than there have ever been before.
Spend some time exploring the different ways you can reach customers through the search engines and their various offerings. Google has about 45 products listed on its product page. That's not to say that all of these will be useful to you, but maybe it's worth going down the list and asking yourself if there is a relevant strategy to employ. Yahoo has about 20 things listed on its search services page. Bing has the Behind Bing site, which shows off its various features.