Search engine marketing share reports rolled out this week, with Bing and Google leading the way. The companies also made some announcements that signal changes for both consumers and marketers alike.

The month of March began with frequent discussions and concern regarding Google’s new privacy policy. Many expect the move to hurt the company to an extent. However, comScore’s search engine market report found that Google is as strong as ever. 

On Friday, Brafton reported that Google fielded more than two-thirds of total search queries in the United States in February. For the month, Google checked in at 66.4 percent, compared to the 66.2 percent in January. On a yearly comparison, Google’s share grew 1 percent, as the search engine accounted for 65.5 percent of queries in February 2011.

Marketers are keeping a steady eye on Google with the discussion regarding its privacy policy. However, comScore’s report shows that SEO and content marketing campaigns should still focus primarily on ranking well on Google’s SERPs.

Even with Google’s consistent dominance, the news for Microsoft’s Bing hasn’t been all bad. ComScore’s report found that Bing, which registered 15.3 percent of search queries in February, has grown 1.7 percent in the last 12 months. Rather than cutting into Google’s market share, however, Bing outdid Yahoo, its partner in search. In February 2011, Yahoo claimed 16.1 percent of search queries, compared to the 13.8 percent it had in February of this year.

Both Google and Bing made announcements this week that illustrate their current mindsets and positions in the search market.

On Tuesday, Brafton detailed a new feature added to search for Android users. Google added a Recent tab to its Android Mobile Search app, which will allow users to recall the last searches they conducted while logged into their account.

Junichi Uekawa, a software engineer for Google, wrote on the company’s Inside Search blog that Recent will allow users to quickly bring up information regarding restaurants and other businesses. The feature can be used for any search ultimately. It’s major utility, however, seems to deal with local businesses, according to Google. As such, companies looking to garner foot traffic from on-the-go mobile searchers should focus on building their web presences.

As Bing struggles to cut into Google’s lead, refining its search engine for both users and SEO marketers is a critical step. Part of that means detailing best practices and changes it’s making to Bing’s SERPs and algorithms for search marketers.

Brafton reported on Wednesday that Bing has launched Quality Insights, a blog series that will detail new trends in search and any alterations it makes to rankings. Guiding SEO campaigns is a major component of Bing’s plans for its search product. According to its first post on the Quality Insights blog, the company has been working to perfect “whole page relevance,” which deals mostly with the delivery of several different content types on its SERPs. Searches now yield links to standard website content, but they also include video, news articles and other results that make the web the dynamic portal that it is.

For search engines, keeping marketers abreast of changes to its algorithm has become vital, as the role search marketing efforts play in business’ operations grows every day. Brafton reported on Wednesday that 81 percent of businesses using content marketing have found it is an important element of their brand-building operations. These businesses told HubSpot that their various content marketing efforts are either “important,” “critical” or “useful” to their operations, according to the company’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report.

Among the reasons companies are using content marketing and other inbound methods is the growing value they’re seeing from earlier efforts, Brafton reported. Many said the economic struggles of previous years forced them away from outbound marketing, which has proven expensive and less effective with the growth of the web.

Companies of all kinds are seeing the value in integrated new media marketing campaigns. Consumer goods brands have found web leads to be especially valuable, as the rise of ecommerce has helped them sell directly, Brafton reported on Thursday.

Selling directly on their own websites or with the use of third-party ecommerce companies has helped these businesses find new revenue streams. Moreover, many have been able to glean new insights on their target audiences with web analytics data, IDC Manufacturing Insights reported.

With so many different types of businesses using social media marketing and other inbound campaigns, the internal paradigm at these companies has been forced to shift as well. Brafton recently reported that buy-in from executives and other stake-holders is critical to ensuring the success of any new marketing campaign. With new media marketing, this is especially vital because the channels are often foreign to businesses launching the initiatives.

The Optimization Group recently reported that businesses frequently struggle with content marketing or other inbound methods when they don’t have the full support of the boardroom.

However, the potential benefits with these channels are becoming more apparent, as the internet’s role in people’s lives grows. Brafton reported on Monday that 38 percent of web users have recommended between five and nine brands to their friends, followers and other social contacts.

Zuberance, a brand advocacy group, suggests that brand advocates are among the best targets of social media marketing campaigns, especially when they’re paired with relevant articles as part of custom content initiatives. 

Valuable social content is key to some verticals’ success in social. Brafton reported on Thursday that the entertainment and technology industries have enjoyed their forays into social with strong click-through rates. AdParlor found that both of these industries are largely social with consumers relying on the advice of their friends. Shared links from friends and followers often convinces many of these social users to convert.

Content marketing campaigns paired with social campaigns may have received a boost from Facebook this week. Brafton reported that the company is rolling out a new feature, interests lists, which allow users to curate the content they want see on the website based on their interests.

Facebook detailed the feature in a release on Thursday. According to the company, its more than 800 million users can now select topics they are interested in to keep up with the latest news.

Facebook has also been rolling out its new Timeline platform to businesses in the last two weeks. While little has been said from companies regarding their satisfaction with the new page layout, the next week should paint a better picture of businesses regard for Timeline.

Next week, marketers might want to look out for more updates about the evolution of mobile, social search – especially since this week’s release of the iPad 3 is expected to give a boost to internet-enabled mobile device adoption.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.