Half of Internet Users Search Daily

The percentage of Internet users who use search engines on a typical day has increased from about one-third of all users in 2002 to 49 percent. That’s according to a search engine use report released by Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Search is growing at a faster rate than other activities on the Web, quickly outpacing other information-gathering sources. In the past, news sites were more popular or on equal ground with search. “Search is now taking center stage…whereas e-mail is still primary for communications, search is now primary for information activity,” said Susannah Fox, associate director at Pew Internet.

Broadband, and the always on Web, play a factor in search. Those with high-speed connections at home are 94 percent more likely to have tried search. In fact, 58 percent of home broadband users search daily, compared to 26 percent of dial-up users. “Dial-up users are less sophisticated and engaged as Internet users than are broadband users. They do less search, just like they do less online overall. So it’s not that they’re searching in a different way; they’re just doing less searching,” said Deborah Fallows, senior research fellow at Pew Internet.

Users now find search throughout the Web, not just search engines. The availability of search boxes on content sites and toolboxes in addition to added content has encouraged the activity. “I think the rise in everyday searching is most likely explained by the confluence of a few positive factors: Increasing online ubiquity of search boxes, and users’ familiarity and satisfaction with using search engines,” Fallows said.”

Despite the buzz around social networks, 13 percent of Internet users surveyed said they visit social sites.

Daily Internet Activities:

  • E-mail – 60 percent
  • Online search – 49 percent
  • Check news – 39 percent
  • Check weather – 30 percent
  • Research hobby – 29 percent
  • Surf Web for fun – 28 percent
  • Visit social networking site – 13 percent

The search engine use report is part of Pew Internet’s Spring Tracking Survey 2008. In April and May a sample of 2,251 adults age 18 and over were interviewed, of those, 1,553 were Internet users.

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