Majority of Users Prefer Search Engines for Fast Information
Over two-thirds of those polled by Harris Interactive and MSN feel Web searches are the fastest way to find information, though what they are searching for varies widely.
Whether because of curiosity, boredom or perhaps the need to find someone from one’s past, many people use search engines to find out about the activities and whereabouts of friends, family and ex-boyfriends or girlfriends (the practice is widespread enough that it has acquired a name â€” “googling” someone â€” though the sponsor of the survey, MSN, probably hopes to change that with its recently revamped search engine). The most popular person-search of all, however, is users looking up themselves. Just under 40% of respondents have done a query on their own name to see where they pop-up. Searches for friends and family polled a bit lower, and, surprisingly, only 17% have searched for an old flame (or at least admit to it).
Aside from searches based on personal relationships, a wide variety of topics prove popular depending on the demographic group surveyed. The popularity of each topic relative to each group is often logical and sometimes telling. For example, respondents in LA are most likely to search for entertainment news, while New Yorkers are the biggest searchers for financial news. Adults ages 59 and older tend to look up information about their family ancestry, as well as their investments, while baby boomers are more interested in topics like health, weather and recipes. Generation X tends to search the Web for online dating and relationship topics. Men are more likely to search for information on cars, technology and science, while women prefer information on health, fashion and celebrities.
Harris Interactive and MSN surveyed over 2,200 adults in six major cities in late June and early July 2004.