A survey into the use of web search engine sites has revealed that in January this year, UK consumers had increased the number of visits they made to such sites by 4.5%, when compared with the same period last year.

The survey, by analysts, Experian Hitwise, found that the total number of visits by UK web users had increased by almost 100 million, year on year, to 2.3 billion; with search engine websites amounting to 12% of all websites visited.

Although the survey revealed that the number of visits to Google in January was slightly lower than in December, the popular site still boasted 90.64% of all search engine visits in January, making it by far the most widely used search engine among UK users.

Rivals Yahoo and Microsoft claimed just 4.16% and 2.98% of the market respectively; with Microsoft’s Bing showing a loss in market share when compared to last year, even though it had managed to attract more users.

The searches most frequently made during January, according to the survey, were on the themes of: entertainment (14% of all searches); social media (13% of the total); and, ironically perhaps, search engines themselves (12%).

The survey also revealed the key role played by search engines in helping to drive visitors to other sites; with 35% of all internet site visits in January being made via the search engine route; a rise of 11% on the same period last year.