Who Uses Search Engines? 92% of Adult U.S. Internet Users [Study]

A survey from Pew Internet indicates that search engine and email usage are the top ways people spend time online. Social networking is still on the rise, but has a long way to go.

The Continual Popularity of Search

Search engines have been the single most popular use of the web since Pew Internet began crunching numbers back in 2002. When it comes to search, the primary difference since 2002 is that a greater portion of the population overall now searches on a regular basis.

In total, 92 percent of Internet users search, with 59 percent doing so on a regular basis. While there were once big gaps between demographics, searching is a ubiquitous activity these days. Even the 65+ category had a high rating, with 87 percent searching and 37 percent doing so on a daily basis.


Email comes in second, with a similar mass popularity. Ninety-two percent of those surveyed used email, and there are no major statistical influences among race, education, or income.

The new Pew Internet survey was conducted between April 26 and May 22 of this year. In total, 2,277 adults were surveyed. Pew Internet provides a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.

Social’s Position in Common Use

But what of social? Tech experts have ranted, again and again, about how the interactive web provided by Facebook, Twitter, and niche sites will overtake search, making those “10 blue links” obsolete. Will it really?

It’s certainly true that social sites are growing rapidly. Since 2004, when Pew Internet started looking at social media usage among those surveyed, social sites have risen from 11 percent usage to 65 percent. The growth started slowing in 2009, but is continuing a gradual climb.

What should be noted, though, is that there’s no correlative drop in search engine or email popularity. Both have remained roughly stable during the time that social was entering the picture. It seems that sites like Facebook and Twitter have created territory distinct enough that they can avoid any “war” with Google’s search.

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