A February 2012 Pew Internet survey finds that 91% of online adults use search engines to find information on the web, up from 84% in June 2004, the last time we did an extended battery of survey questions about people’s search engine use. On any given day online, 59% of those using the Internet use search engines. In 2004 that figure stood at just 30% of internet users.
As early as 2002, more than eight in ten online adults were using search engines, and as we noted in an August 2011 report, search is only rivaled by email both in the overall percent of internet users who engage in the activity and the percent of internet users doing it on a given day. The table below shows how search compares over time with some other popular online activities.
Search is most popular among young adult internet users, those who have been to college, and those with the highest household incomes. These same groups—the young, college-educated, and affluent—are also most likely to report using a search engine “yesterday.” And while white and black online adults are more likely than Hispanics to report using search overall, white online adults stand out from all others as more likely to use search on a given day.
Asked how often they use a search engine to find information online, just over half of all search engine users (54%) say they do this at least once a day, a significant increase over 2004.
Frequency of search engine use varies by age, education and income, with adults under age 50 and those with more education and higher household incomes using search more frequently than others.
Google is far and away the most popular search engine
Among search engine users, Google dominance continues and it is far and away the search engine they report using most often. Fully 83% of searchers use Google more often than any other search engine. Yahoo is a very distant second at just 6%. In 2004, the gap between these two search leaders was much narrower. At that time, 47% said that Google was the search engine they used most often while 26% named Yahoo.