The online search landscape is transforming.

If Google's instant answers are getting more detailed and sophisticated, search engine optimisation is throwing up news results, shopping tips and video snippets, and personalisation and social sharing are dominating the page if a user is logged in. “Not only are the results annotated with the share/social data, they also outrank the top result,” said Gillian Musseig, CEO of the US-based SEOMoz.

She was speaking via Skype from her London location to delegates at the Social Media for Business Summit International 2011 hosted by the Department of Commerce at MOP Vaishnav College and digital marketing company Echovme.

Ms. Musseig pointed out that Search Engine Results Pages were now more about personalised search history, social networks, previous clicks and geographical bias. If several years ago search results pages ranked mainly according to the keywords in the text and links, now they are dominated by brands or sometimes in the case of Google the search engine itself, she said.

An instance of the “social trumps links” phenomenon was the alacrity response to pop icon Michael Jackson's death in 2009, Ms. Musseig said. Twitter caught on to the event within seconds, while the death was on Google in about 22 minutes and on radio and TV in an hour or so and on the next edition of newspapers. Vasudev Murthy, General Manager, Wipro, presented his company's take on the role of social media in Wipro. In the rapidly evolving world of social media where rules are going to be broken every other day, it was important that social media exercises link back to the core business strategy, he said.

Earlier, Nirmala Prasad, college principal, launched the summit. The Hindu Nxg is official media partner for the two-day event that concludes on Saturday.