What Do They Search For?
by June Campbell

Do you know what and how people search when online? If you're 
operating an online business, this is important information.  
Understanding search habits and online behaviors helps you 
strategize your marketing campaigns.

Pew Internet Project has released a new study (summer 2002) 
describing what people do online. (http://www.pewinternet.org/) 

The researchers found that searching for information is big -- 
second only to using email. Fully eighty percent of Americans 
who are on the Internet have used a search engine to find 
information. Twenty-five percent (that's thirty-three million) 
use a search engine on a daily basis.

Men are more likely than women to use a search engine on a 
given day. 33% of men and 25% of women reported using a search 
engine on a specified day.

College grads are more likely to use a search engine than high 
school grads. 39% of Internet users with three or more years 
under their belts use a search engine on a given day, while 
only 14% of those online for less than six months use the 
search engines on a given day.

Google is the most used search engine in terms of minutes 
searched. It's currently at 25.9 minutes and gaining. However, 
MSN has the most number of users. It recorded 43 million unique 
users in May of 2002, compared to Google's 36 million. Yahoo 
had 38 million unique visitors during that month.

Information searches fell into four main categories: 
information about people, health, government and religion.

People searches leaned towards the personal (66.6%), more than 
the professional (33.3%). College grads were more likely to do 
people searches than high school grads, and younger people (18-
29) were more likely to do people searches than older people 

Seventy-three million Americans looked for health information...
up from 52 million in fall of 2000. Women are more likely than 
men to look for health information, but are likely to be turned 
off by sites that are selling something, or by sites that do 
not provide the date and source of their information. 81% 
started their search at a search engine or at a web portal like 
Yahoo, AOL or MSN.  The others started at a health information 

45% started at the top of the search list and worked their way 
down. The rest clicked through according to recognized names or 
relevant content descriptions.

82% reported satisfaction with the health information they 
found. One in three say they know someone who has been helped by 
Internet health information. Two out of 100 know someone who 
has been harmed.

Most searched for health information pertains to specific 
diseases, weight control, and prescription drug information. 
Inquiries are increasing for mental health information and for 
sensitive medical topics.

Sixty-eight million Americans reported using government agency 
web sites -- a dramatic increase from 40 million in March of 
2000. 40% started their search at a major search engine or 
web site such as AOL or MSN. Most scanned the search link for 
names that seemed to fit. Only 21% visited sites according to 

28 million Americans (up from 19 million in late 2000) use the 
search engines to find religious or spiritual information or 
contacts. Only 4% started their search at religious portals.

Other statistics of interest to marketers:

* 95% of Internet-using Americans go online to use email.
* 80% do searches
* 80% look for hobby-related information
* 37% play games online
* 75% go online to research a product or service before making a 
* 63% look for information about movies, books and entertainment
* 44% look for financial information
* 20% participate in auctions
* 9% visit dating web sites
* 5% go online to gamble

Only 21% of Americans (twenty-four million people) have 
broadband Internet access in their homes. However, this number 
is four times greater than in 2000. The broadband users are 
more likely to be wealthy, educated males. Not surprisingly, 
persons with high speed access make fuller use of the 
Internet's resources than those with dial up connections.

There you have it. Lots of numbers to help you develop your 
marketing plans or to incorporate in your business plan.

June Campbell is owner of Nightcats Multimedia Productions. Visit 
her site to learn more about How to Write Business Plans, Business 
Proposals, JV Contracts, & Human Resource Packages. And, check out 
the no-cost ebook "Beginners Guide to Ecommerce".