We gotta keep searchin', searchin'

July 18, 2008

by Mark Ollig

With all due respect to Del Shannon’s 1965 hit single “Keep Searchin’.”

Almost 50 percent of us do this every day when we go on the Internet.

Two weeks ago, the Pew Internet Research group publicly made available its latest findings on “search engine use.”

The Pew Internet Project is a program of the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit “fact tank” which provides information on the “concerns, thoughts and tendencies influencing America and the world.”

The Pew Internet Project is nonpartisan and takes no position on policy issues.

This fresh data just released from Pew, says 49 percent of us accessing the Internet each day go to a search engine to look up information.

This percentage is approaching our daily use of e-mail, which is the number one reason most of us access the Internet. In fact, 60 percent of us daily use the Internet.

Every day I go online to check the news and learn what is happening in our world. Checking news is done by 39 percent of us on a normal day when we are on the Internet.

Will it rain or be sunny? It seems 30 percent of us want to know this most days, as this is the percentage of Internet users Pew reports check the weather online each day.

Two everyday activities we do over the Internet came in very close.

Using the Internet to research our hobbies came in at 29 percent and using the Internet for just plain ol’ “surfing for fun” each day is listed at 28 percent.

Participating in social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and others is done by a reportedly 13 percent of us each day on the Internet.

According to Pew, those who are using Internet search engines on an average day are most likely to be Internet users with at least six years of online experience. These same Internet users also tend to have their homes wired for fast Internet connections.

It has been reported that 55 percent of American homes have a high-speed Internet connection.

Pew also says younger Internet users are more likely than older users to search on a typical day.

Here are some of the percentages Pew included in this latest report.

At the top of the list, 66 percent of college grads are using Internet search engines daily, followed by 32 percent of those with a high school education or less.

Pew’s last five years worth of researching results shows on a typical day Internet search engines are used by 55 percent of the young people between 18 and 29 years.

Those of us in the 30 to 49 age group are right there – coming in at a respectable 54 percent.

Of those folks 50 to 64 years young, 40 percent are using Internet search engines daily to collect information.

I was happy to see 27 percent of the seniors 65 and better using Internet search engines on a daily basis to research information – did you hear that, mom?

Pew’s break down by gender shows 91 percent of men and 88 percent of woman report having used an Internet search engine.

The percentage of men and woman using the Internet for information searches on a daily basis breaks down to 53 percent of the men and 45 percent of the woman.

I have no idea why men are searching more than the women are.

Remember, in this column your sometimes humble columnist will make futile attempts at levity.

Search engines are not just the web sites of Google and Yahoo anymore; many smaller web sites are incorporating their own “intra-site” search engines.

These web sites are now using their own internal search engines, which in addition to being a time saver can provide us with more useful “site-specific” information.

Many of us are already online as soon as we sit down to our computer.

I still leave my computer turned on (I know I shouldn’t) and online most of the time – note I do perform regular backups . . . you might recall this columnist’s ghastly past experience when his computer crashed.

The number one statistical characteristic Pew Research found is that homes having a high-speed or broadband connection had the strongest tendency among Internet users to commonly use a search engine most days.

Pew states from previous studies that when a home user upgrades to high-speed broadband, they are more likely to turn to the Internet first to have a question answered – which is what I find myself doing. When I am reading or hear a subject mentioned on the television, I sometimes access the Google or Yahoo search engine to check it out.

Today’s search engines collect massive amounts of information. From the growing accumulation of web content from all of the world-wide news, government and educational web sites, video and archival web sites, personal and business web sites, to blog’s, and so much more . . . there is just a lot of “stuff” out there to search about.

And like Del Shannon sang, “We gotta keep searchin’, searchin’ every night and day follow the sun-ah, wee-ooh.”

To read more about this latest report from Pew Internet Research, go to this ‘tinyurl’ link: http://tinyurl.com/5hxn3m (Pew Research report on search engine use).