The Secrets Online Searchers Keep [Study]

What do you search for when no one is looking? This is the question Ask.com wanted to expose in its 2013 Online Consumer Search Habits study. What they found out was nearly two-thirds of Americans said they’ve had something to hide with past online searches, with the majority being men and young adults.

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But what are they hiding, and who are they hiding it from? Research revealed medical conditions were among the top-secret searches, and spouses, adult family members, friends, children, and work colleagues were those left in the dark.

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Those keeping online activity secret from work mates might be concerned about what they're doing online on the clock. Sixteen percent said they looked for another job while at work, and 36 percent said they shopped. 

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But the workplace isn’t the only location people occupy themselves with online searches. Among mobile phone users, 28 percent browsed the web while on the toilet, and one in 10 admitted to a search while driving.

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In a similar study conducted by Pew Research earlier this year, data showed 56 percent of respondents searched for their name online to see what information might surface about them. 

Of those surveyed, adults under the age of 50 and those with higher levels of education and household income were among the most likely to self-search.

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About the author

Jessica Lee is a marketer specializing in web content strategy and B2B/B2C writing. Since 2005, Jessica has been in the business of content and communications, with the past several years focused on the web marketing space.

Prior to launching her consulting business, bizbuzzcontent, Jessica was responsible for content strategy, development and marketing for Bruce Clay Inc. – a global SEO firm, where she served small businesses and Fortune 500 clients. Jessica's background also includes positions in traditional marketing, communications, broadcasting and publishing.

Jessica has a bachelor's in communications and public relations from San Diego State University. She also contributed to the book “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” 2nd edition.