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Search Second Most Popular Activity Online, Transcends Age

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently released new data on how internet users are spending their time online. Search was the second most popular activity, with 87% of users using a search engine in 2010, while email is a central part of what users do online with 94% of users emailing. Social networking continues to gain traction with 61% of users who used a social networking site.

Online Activities for 2009 and 2010

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project; 2010 compared to 2009 where availible

Online Search Transcends Age

When we dig into the breakdown of online activities by age group we see social networking does not have the same broad generational appeal as search, peaking with 83% usage amongst 18-33 year olds, but declining to 16% for 74+ year olds.


Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

Search usage, on the other hand, remains relatively steady across generations, with even three quarters of 74+ year olds using a search engine.

87% of online users utilize a search engine compared to 61% that use a social networking site.

Search Engine Usage by Age Group

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

The bottom line? If a user is online, regardless of age group, they are using a search engine. While there is a lot of hype around social networking and clear benefits to it being a part of the online marketing mix, search is still being used more (in many cases far more) by every age group across the generational spectrum. This reminds online marketers as they develop an online strategy going into the new year, to keep SEO a central part of their online marketing mix.

-Nathan Safran
Senior Research Analyst

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