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People in the U.S. use the Internet for more everyday research than any other medium, a fact proven by the 55 percent year-on-year surge in online searches in December, according to market researcher Nielsen/NetRatings. And Google remained the most popular place for Americans to search cyberspace in December.

The number of online searches in the U.S. soared to nearly 5.1 billion searches in December from 3.3 billion a year earlier, despite just a slight uptick in the total number of Americans connecting to the Internet, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

The number of Internet users in the U.S. rose merely 3 percent year-on-year in December to 207 million people.

Shift in Behavior

"The double-digit increase in online search activity marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Internet consumer behavior," says Ken Cassar, senior director of analytics at Nielsen/NetRatings.

"Online search is the primary tool most people rely on to do everyday research," he says.

Google not only ranked first out of approximately 60 search engines, it also widened the gap between itself and number two Yahoo by grabbing 48.8 percent of all search traffic in December, or nearly 2.5 billion searches, up from 43.1 percent during the same time a year earlier.

Search activity on Yahoo fell slightly to 21.4 percent of the total, down from 21.7 percent in December 2004.

MSN saw the steepest drop-off as its share of searches fell to 10.9 percent from 14 percent, Nielsen/NetRatings says.

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