South Korea is one of the biggest online markets in the world with very high retail activity online. They have an average of 30 minutes spent per person per day doing online shopping. That means that whether you live in South Korea or not, you should definitely be targeting the Korean audience.
However, online marketing in South Korea is a little bit different than marketing for other parts of the world. If you just opened up an online business in South Korea, you need to know how it works for that region. That’s exactly what we’ll be exploring in this article starting with the most used search engine in South Korea.
Naver Search Portal
The Naver search engine is how things get “googled” in South Korea. The search portal was first introduced in 1999. Just a year later, results were displayed in groupings that were well ahead of their time.
Today, Google also creates customized search engine results pages depending on the type of content that you are searching for. But in 2000, no one else was doing it. Naver brings together lots of different search elements. This includes paid search, organic search results, the South Korean equivalent of Wikipedia and lots of other specialized search results.
How Naver Results are Displayed
Understanding how these results are displayed is an important part of learning how to market in South Korea online. Results like Naver Cafe, Naver Encyclopedia, Knowledge iN and all the other search elements appear on the SERP most of the time.
This can be useful in some cases, but in others, it really crowds the organic results of the page. That makes it difficult for marketers who are looking to be on the front page of the search engine results as there may be other forms of search results that are crowding them out.
However, it also gives marketers an opportunity by having their own Encyclopedia page and using the other search elements of their vantage. They can raise their rankings for a particular search term by sliding into one of those search elements.
Paid search is very different as well. It often takes up much more of the page than it does for Google and other search engines. For competitive keywords and keyword phrases, there may be two or more sets of paid listings. This makes it impossible to get above the fold unless you are willing to pay for the advertising.
After the paid search listings, the Naver Knowledge iN listings and advertisements from registered websites appear. Then you will see some organic search results. Though, these can be hard sometimes. For example, if you look for the search term “online marketing”, you will only find four entries that are organic.
The rest of the pages will give you results from all the portal returns. That’s what you can generally think of Naver as more than a search engine because the search results depend upon what you type into the search engine query box. It is not just a comprehensive algorithm for ranking.
Please note that the sections that show up on the Naver SERP will differ depending on the keyword you searched for. In this example, we searched for “디지털 마케팅” (“digital marketing” in Korean). But if you search for something like “running shoes”, the sections will be different. You will also notice that paid advertising takes up over 50% of the SERP (search ads, biz site ads, shopping ads, shopping item ads, etc.).
Offsite Strategies to Improve Naver Rankings
Let’s start with some of the strategies that you will need to employ on-page and off-page if you want to improve your search rankings on Naver. This can also let your website be visible in the search engine results.
One of the first things that you should do is create an entry for your brand in the Naver Encyclopedia. This is the equivalent of Wikipedia in South Korea, and the results often appear on the first page.
Another thing that you want to do is try to answer questions with your brand through the Q&A platform Knowledge iN. This platform is also affiliated with Naver and works very similarly to Yahoo! This is an answer platform that used to dominate search results.
People ask questions and answer them through this website. You can often get brand mentions by answering the right questions where the response can include your company or website. This platform also works directly with Naver Encyclopedia and features local Q&A options. The Q&A feature aims to answer questions within a particular region, which is useful for those businesses with brick-and-mortar locations.
Blogging is a popular way to do content marketing in the United States, but, it is even more important in South Korea. When you register with the Naver search engine, they automatically create your Naver blog account, which is even more popular in South Korea than it is in other parts of the world.
Blog results often feature quite high on the search engine results page. That is why setting up a blog for your brand is essential. Moreover, make sure that you are pushing content that is targeted toward a specific keyword so you’ll surely appear on the SERP when people search for something related to your brand.
Of course, just like with other types of content marketing, you always want to make sure you are offering visitors something useful. Something that they actually came searching for and giving them the information that they need.
As Naver wants to keep everything in their own ecosystem, websites are not given much attention. If you look at the Naver SERP, you’ll see that most of the time the “Websites” section is lower in the SERP or not even shown. This is why having a Naver Blog for your Naver SEO is crucial.
From your Naver Blog, you can reroute traffic to your site. You will also see that there is now a section for “Naver Blogs” and “Naver Posts” on the Naver SERP.
Naver Cafe is another popular platform that can get your site ranked higher and get you seen on the search engine results page.
This is the local social community based around the Naver search engine. Those with a great deal of influence can have a significant impact which they can use to where their own social media in South Korea lands in the SERP.
Make sure that you are aware of who the major influencers are in South Korea and make sure you have unique content with the right keywords.
Facebook is also quite popular in South Korea among social networks. And Naver often indexes results from Facebook pages so you want to make sure you have a Facebook page as well.
There are also a number of onsite strategies that you can use to improve your rankings within the search engine.
For one thing, make sure that you do website submission. If you want your website to appear in the search engine results, then you need to register with Naver. After, you can easily submit your pages.
Although Google does a really good job in finding pages even if you do not submit them, that is not always the case with Naver. There is no guarantee that your website will be crawled and displayed even after you submit your pages, it is still probably going to take a few weeks for your website to be indexed and appear in the results.
Write your page in Korean
If you are not Korean, or you do not speak the language, then you’re going to have to get some help as it is absolutely vital that your page be written in Korean. Many companies all over the world that are looking to target audiences in South Korea actually hire someone expert in the Korean language.
While you can get away with translation in many parts of the world or simply targeting in English in some countries, that is not the case with South Korea. If you do not use Korean on your pages, people are not going to read them. It is not going to get indexed by Naver and you are not going to be able to target specific keywords.
Metadata and Keyword Optimization
Meta-content is added to your website template and it is used to help Naver index your page. It can determine the content that is on there and decides where to place you when it comes to keyword search terms and rankings.
Each of your web pages should have a title tag, keyword tag and meta-description tag. Optimize your metadata to make sure that you are ranking for the right search terms. But never do keyword stuffing. It is important to stay on the side of caution because over-optimizing your website will get it removed from the rankings.
The Bottom Line
There are lots of things to keep in mind when it comes to online marketing in South Korea. Regardless if you’re outside of Korea or you are a new company that has recently begun digital marketing, you have to keep in mind that when it comes to on-page and off-page optimization and working with a brand-new search engine, it has different policies and algorithms than what you might be used to.
If you want to target the Korean market using Naver, you’ve come to the right place! Contact us for more details.