Internet searches are becoming almost as popular as email when it comes to online activities, accordin to a new survey.

Research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project says 49 percent of surfers use search engines on a daily basis, compared to just one third in 2002. Meanwhile, 60 percent of web users turn to email on a daily basis.

The new figures show search is far ahead of other popular daily internet activities, such as checking the news (which 39 percent of users do on a typical day) or checking the weather (30 percent).

The report also highlighted that men who use the internet have been more likely than women to integrate search into their daily lives. The percentage of men who search on a typical day has grown from 33 percent in 2002 to 53 percent now. The percentage of women has grown from 25 percent in 2002 to 45 percent.

One likely reason for the current increase is that users can now expect to find a "high-performing, site-specific search engine on just about every content-rich website that is worth its salt", the report noted.

"With a growing mass of web content from blogs, news sites, image and video archives, personal websites and more, internet users have an option to turn not only to the major search engines, but also to search engines on individual sites as vehicles to reach the information they are looking for."

See also: Google releases new version of Search Appliance