How do U.S. Internet users spell 'search'? G-o-o-g-l-e

Pew survey shows 83% of U.S. Internet users prefer Google for search

Anyone who has tracked the U.S. search market over the past few years knows that Google has maintained about a 65% share, give or take a few percentage points. But according to a new survey released Friday by Pew Internet & American Life Project, Google's grip on U.S. Internet user mindshare is even stronger. The survey of more than 2,200 adults reveals that 83% of search engine users in the U.S. prefer Google, versus 47% in 2004. Yahoo finished in second place at 6%, which basically means there is no second place. Google simply owns the U.S. market. And this, despite ongoing objections to Google's privacy intrusions in the form of collecting personal information for the purposes of delivering targeted ads. For example, 68% of respondents said they were not OK with targeted advertising because they don't like having their online behavior tracked. Well, Google lovers, I have some bad news for you. Further, 73% said they would not be OK with a search engine keeping track of their searches and using that information to personalize future search results. Google lovers, I have some more bad news for you. “Search engines are increasingly important to people in their navigation of information spaces, but users are generally uncomfortable with the idea of their search histories being used to target information to them,” Kristen Purcell, Pew Internet associate director for research and author of the report, said in a written statement. “A clear majority of searchers say that they feel that search engines keeping track of search history is an invasion of privacy, and they also worry about their search results being limited to what’s deemed relevant to them.” Yet no search engine has been able to leverage those concerns to grab market share from Google. Is it because people are such creatures of habit that they'll accept practices to which they object just for the sake of convenience? I suspect that's the case, and I also suspect companies such as Facebook and Google know this. That's why they're constantly pushing the privacy envelope. See what the drones will acccept, and if you go too far, pull back a bit. It's worked pretty well so far.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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