Britain’s internet audience swelled by five per cent in the 12 months to May, rising from 36.9 million people to 38.8 million, according to new figures.

In news that could be of particular interest to brands using search engine marketing, the study from UK Online Measurement and Nielsen showed that over half (53 per cent) of these new online users were aged 50 or above.

Men over 50 accounted for the majority of the growth, with 722,000 of this group going on the internet for the first time in the year to May.

Some 284,000 women who had reached their half-century also went online over the same period.

After the 50-plus age group, women between 21 and 34 were the second fastest growing group of web surfers with 272,000 new users. They were ahead of "tweenage" girls aged 12 to 20, who accounted for 231,000 new users.

In related news, a recent poll by Econsultancy and Guava found that the proportion of UK firms planning to increase their spending on search engine marketing in the next 12 months has risen from 55 per cent last year to 60 per cent in 2010.

News brought to you by ClickThrough – specialists in Search Engine Optimisation and Internet Marketing.

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