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The Pew Internet Project has released a fascinating report detailing just how important search engines are to web users, with some interesting statistics about the most common kinds of information people search for.

The report, based on extensive research, surveys, and analysis, says that more than eight in ten American internet users have gone to search engines to find information on the Web. Further, more than one in four, or about 33 million adults, use a search engine on a daily basis.

Fully 85% of American internet users have used an online search engine to find information on the Web. Only sending or reading email outranks search-engine queries as an online activity.

The study also examined individual differences and search engine use. Some of the key findings:

- Men are more likely than women to use a search engine on a typical day (33%, compared to 25% of women).

- College graduates are also more likely to use a search engine on a typical day (39%, compared to 20% of high school graduates).

- Internet users who have been online for three or more years are also heavy search engine users (39% on a typical day, compared to 14% of those who got access in the last six months).

Have you ever searched for information about yourself? If so, you're not alone. About one in four Internet users has typed their own names into a search engine to see what information about them is on the Web. About half found what they expected, but 24% of vanity searchers were surprised by how much information they found about themselves online, and 16% were surprised by how little information they found.

The report also examined how people search for health, government and religious information. There's a lot of good information here, especially about the quality of information and satisfaction with online resources.

SearchDay readers likely won't be surprised by many of the findings in the report, though it's nice to see some hard data from a reputable source like the Pew Internet Project.

Search Engines: A Pew Internet Project Data Memo
http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=64
The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a nonpartisan, independent research organization funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to study the impact of the Internet on families, communities, health care, education, civic and political life, and the work place.

Daily Internet Activities
http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/chart.asp?img=Daily_Internet_Activities.jpg
A chart detailing the percentage of 64 million U.S. based internet users who do a specific online activity on any given day.

Internet Activities
http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/chart.asp?img=Internet_Activities.jpg
Another chart detailing the percentage of Internet Users who have ever done a particular online activity. Using a search engine is the second most common activity, just behind email in popularity.

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