Wilburforce - 11:21 am on Jan 5, 2013 (gmt 0)
what the specific alternatives to it are
That is the dilemma: what methods are your potential customers most likely to use in searching for your product or service?
If the answer to that question is Google, and in many cases it is, the advice not to rely on it is useless. Giving up means giving up a source of new business, and getting new customers to find you by other means will cost more and yield less.
I think Google - and search engines in general - will be dominant for some time yet. Jumping ship is not a viable option.
One problem is that relevance - the search-engine's Holy Grail - isn't easily translatable into commercial terms: buying a degree doesn't make you an authority. However, we should all ask why our own page should be the most relevant for a given term. I think the days when you could simply put up a lot of markers (keyword count and emphasis, backlink anchor-text, etc.) are fading, and one of Google's aims is to make them history.
That doesn't mean relevance is no longer relevant, or that we should all roll over and let some less relevant site hijack our business.