Search Insider: Pew: How Search Engines Are Used On A Typical Day
Pew: How Search Engines Are Used On A Typical Day by Rob Garner , Wednesday, August 13, 2008
THE PEW INTERNET AND
American Life Project released its latest survey on search engine usage last week, led by senior research fellow Deborah Fallows, which follows up on similar studies produced in 2002 and 2005. The study does not focus so much on actual daily search engine usage, but is more of a snapshot of a "typical day" in the online life activities of the sample group, with search and email being the most popular activities. As it states in the report, "these figures propel search further out of the pack, well ahead of other popular internet activities."
The sample group consisted of 2,251 adults, ages 18 and older, surveyed between April 8 and May 11, 2008. The big question in the survey was, "Did you happen to [use an online search engine] yesterday, or not?" -- and yielded 1,553 who said "yes." Here are more findings:
- Since 2002, the number of Internet users who search at least once a day has risen from approximately one-third, to almost half, or 49%. - Overall, the amount of daily search users grew 69% between 2002 and 2008. - While coming in a close second to email in this study, search beat out other daily Internet activities such as reading the news (39%), checking the weather (30%), researching a hobby (29%), surfing for fun (28%), and visiting a social networking site (13%). - Daily searchers are more likely to be "socially upscale" and college educated, with an income of $50,000 or more per year. - Searchers with incomes of $75,000 or more were the most active daily searchers (62%), followed by $50,000-$75,000 level, at 56%. - Internet users with broadband connections were much more likely to search than those with dial-up at home (58% vs. 26%). - Users between the ages of 18-29 and 30-49 were higher-than-average daily searchers (55% and 54% respectively). Of searchers 65 and older, only 27% were daily search users. - Data dating back to 2002 suggests that men who use the Internet have been more active daily search users. - Men are generally more aware of the differences between paid and natural search. The study found that men say they have searched more frequently, and are more confident in their search abilities.
Fallows also speculates about general reasons for the increase in search interest since it has been conducting the study. A spike in interest between June 2004 to September 2005 is attributed to increased media coverage and the visibility of search engine companies, particularly Google as it went through its IPO process. The study also attributes spikes between 2005 and the current study to a number of factors, including the increased relevancy and usefulness of engines, and also a greater availability of specific content to meet a wider query base. The study also cites increased home adoption of broadband as the single greatest factor in daily search habits.
What is also interesting in this study (but not noted), is that the overall usage of search engines is fairly consistent with previous studies -- 89% of respondents had previously used a search engine -- compared to approximately 90% to 91% of the group using email, the most popular activity. Comparing that with the overall growth in daily search activity, search engines have become a much more frequent and overarching touch point in the online experience.
Rob Garner is strategy director for digital marketing company iCrossing and writes for Great Finds, the iCrossing blog. He is president-elect of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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