As a quick primer, the "Big 3" of search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) display the websites that are most commonly associated with related keywords. They use a ranking system so that those websites that are most appropriate for a keyword are ranked and listed at or near the top, whereas those that aren't commonly associated with a keyword are ranked much lower or not at all. What some business owners don't realize is that most of the ranking is based upon techniques utilized within the website to rank higher. That is, ranking higher is largely within management's control.
An important part of these search engine ranking systems (also called "algorithms") that determine website positions is the element of age and history. That is, within their formulas are important criteria involving how long a website has been around. (Sorry, they don't consider how long you've been in business or how old you are...wouldn't that be nice?) Some of these criteria specifically include how long you've owned your domain (www.sample.com) and the age of the links pointing to your site. These algorithms can further identify and reward companies that have been doing the right optimization activities over time...rather than all at once. The bottom line is that the search engines try to limit the visibility of domains that are new and are using the latest "quick-hit" linking techniques and reward those sites that are established, informative and have been doing the right things all along.
But further, irrespective of the age and history elements, I find most companies are just not doing the basic things necessary to position themselves highly. As a search engine optimization professional, my estimation is that in any given industry, a handful of companies actively jockey for the top positions (and lead streams), some make modest improvement attempts and most ignore the opportunity altogether. While true that the search engines of tomorrow (5 years hence) will probably look and act differently than they do today, I can't help but think that no matter how they evolve, there's only enough room at/near the top for a limited number, and that there's no way of getting around this "haves vs have nots" dynamic.
If you find yourself in any group not active jockeying for the top position, then my advice to you is to start learning and applying those things necessary to develop an informative and visible web presence now, because that's the direction the world is going in.