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Search becomes No. 2 Web activity

But surfers are still more addicted to e-mail, the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds. News reading comes in third.

Using a search engine is now the No. 2 activity for Web users, research has found.

The report also found that reading the news is now the third most popular Web activity.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the number of U.S. Web users taking advantage of search engines has risen sharply since mid-2004--from 30 percent of the U.S. Web population in July 2004 to its current level of 41 percent, which translates to some 59 million Americans.

The Pew project also found that those likely to spend more time on search engines tend to be in their 30s and well-off.

The report added, "Those who use search engines on an average day tend to be heavy Internet users. They are much more likely to have broadband connections than dial-up connections; to log on to the Internet several times a day; and to have spent considerable time online during the day."

That's good news for search giant Google, which has been expanding its business considerably. Recent research by Nielsen/Netratings found that Google now has some 46 percent market share in search, double that of its nearest rival, Yahoo Search, with 23 percent.

Despite the increase in traffic, searching has yet to catch up with the top Internet activity: e-mail. According to the report, about 52 percent of all U.S. Internet users are pressing the Send button on an average day.

The report also found that reading the news is now the third most popular Web activity.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.