A new survey out today suggests that a quarter of search engine users couldn't explain why they used the search engine they do and half use only one search engine to find information online.

European search engine Seekport has found that a significant number of UK internet users still struggle to understand and use internet search engines effectively. A third of UK web users surveyed said they get too many American sites returned when they search and half only use one search engine.

Although half of UK web users depend upon a single search engine, their choice is often independent of the quality of results. 46% said they use their preferred search engine partly because it is a well-known brand, 24% said they use it out of habit and 19% use it because it is the default homepage on their browser. Only 8% said they used their choice of search engine because it delivers good results for their work or hobby. Nearly a third (30%) of those surveyed could not agree with the statement that their chosen search engine finds the information they need.

The strong dependence on a single search engine is surprising, since 97% of those surveyed could name more than one search engine, 80% could name more than two and 66% could name four or more. Seven or more search engines could be named by 16% of those surveyed. The most popular search engine named was Google.

Adverts placed against search results and triggered by the keywords entered are an increasingly popular revenue stream for search engines, but they are confusing users. A third of respondents cannot tell which links are sponsored. Of those who can identify a sponsored link, half say they never use the sponsored links.

Seekport relaunched its European search engine in October simultaneously in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The search engine includes a web search, blog search, reference source search, image search and product search. The Seekport UK index is managed by a quality assurance team based in the UK. Seekport is available for incorporation into content-rich websites as a white label archive and web search engine.