With an internet penetration of 82.5% and a staggering wireless broadband penetration of 99.3%, South Korea is one of the most mature online markets in the world. The country is very active in terms of e-commerce, with the average South Korean internet user spending half an hour every day doing online shopping.
If you want to succeed in targeting users in this lucrative East Asian economy, you need to think local. Naver is the country’s most popular search engine, with a market share of 70%. For this reason, it is Naver – not Google – that should be the focus of your SEO efforts in the country. Doing SEO on Naver is not something you can blindly rush into – there are some very specific and unique techniques that you need to employ in order to succeed and it is these tricks of the trade that I will be sharing with you today.
SEO Performance Strategy Review for Naver
Naver is South Korea's leading search engine, so it is imperative that you optimise your website to rank highly for relevant searches in this search engine if you are targeting the country. An SEO strategist will conduct a review of your website's current ranking and traffic performance and will create a well-developed and tested strategy for executing successful SEO on Naver.
Naver’s SERP layout
The layout of Naver’s search engine results pages (SERPs) looks very different to what we are used to seeing on other search engines like Google. Naver’s SERPs are split into different sections such as Naver Encyclopaedia, Naver Knowledge, Naver Café, Naver Blog, websites, images, videos, maps and news. (More in-depth analysis of Naver’s products further down this blog post!)
If you fully optimise your website using the following on-page and off-page Naver SEO techniques, it is possible for your website to appear multiple times in these different SERP sections.
On-page SEO tips for Naver
In order to appear in Naver’s search results, your website should be submitted to the search engine (https://submit.naver.com). If your website is not submitted to Naver, it is not guaranteed that it will be crawled, indexed and displayed by the search engine. It usually takes two weeks for your website to appear in Naver’s result pages after it has been submitted. The website submission page is written in Korean, but don’t worry – if you do not have an in-house native Korean speaker support is available.
Keep it Korean
When you are targeting Korea, it is essential that all your content is in Korean. If it is not, then the language barrier will instantly discourage your audience from reading any further as they may not understand the content and will not think that it is relevant to them. Failing to use Korean on your website will also damage your SEO efforts as a website’s language is a strong indicator to Naver of its geo-target.
Meta data and keyword optimisation
Meta content is added to your website template and is used by Naver’s spiders to help it determine the content of the page and whether it should rank for particular search queries or not. Each webpage should have different meta content, which consists of a title tag, keyword tag and meta description tag. You should optimise your meta data to maximise the chances of your pages ranking for appropriate search terms. However, as Naver – like most search engines – does not like “keyword stuffing”, it is important to avoid over-optimising to ensure that your website is not penalised.
The quality of the content you publish on your site is of critical importance. You should focus on creating high quality, accurate content that is rich, useful and provides users with real benefits. Not only is this essential for user engagement and retention, but Naver does not even index low quality pages.
Other Naver algorithm factors
The following factors are also taken into account by Naver’s ranking algorithm:
- click-through rate
- link popularity
- keyword relevance
- content freshness
Naver account opening for off-page SEO
Just like Google puts trust in websites that use Google products, such as +1ing and using authorship mark-up, Naver also puts more trust in websites that use Naver products and gives these sites a higher ranking. In order to use these all-important Naver products, such as Naver Blog, Naver Café, Naver Encyclopedia and Naver Knowledge, you need to have a Naver Account. The first step of your off-page Naver SEO process should therefore be to open a Naver Account.
Off-page SEO tips for Naver
Naver Café is a popular social community tool. People can join different Cafés, which usually provide information on a specific topic and encourage members to share ideas, knowledge and opinions within the group.
Having a Naver Café for your brand will allow you to interact with South Korean users, offering a good alternative means of providing customer support, as well as networking with your customers and increasing your brand awareness in the region.
You should keep your account active by posting high quality content and posting new content regularly – many Cafés uses sweepstakes, vouchers and promotions to increase their number of followers. Also, like other search engines, Naver likes “noise”, so you should encourage comments, shares and recommendations.
The more members you have, the better. This is because the popularity of a Café sends a strong signal to Naver about how influential and important a brand is. The most influential Cafés are likely to perform better and rank higher in SERPs, so it is worth investing a substantial amount of time optimising your Naver Café.
Naver Encyclopedia is the most popular online encyclopedia in South Korea and is similar to Wikipedia in the West.
Having a page on Naver Encyclopedia will allow your company to gain presence in South Korea, boosting your company’s online presence and image in the region and building brand awareness amongst your target audience. It is also a good way to gain backlinks to your website, and will allow you to appear in the Encyclopedia paragraph of Naver’s search results.
Naver Encyclopedia company pages should include your brand image, a description of your company and a link to your website, along with information about your sector, your products and/or services, and the history of your company etc. whist staying within Naver’s strict guidelines. Naver Encyclopedia pages should be keyworded and hyperlinks can be inserted.
Naver Knowledge is a huge interactive question and answer forum similar to Yahoo Answers, where users can ask and answer questions posted by others. Naver Knowledge is extremely popular in South Korea, with over 80 million pages of user-generated questions and answers.
Posting and answering questions on Naver Knowledge is a very good way of engaging directly with your target audience in South Korea by getting involved in discussions they are interested in and helping them solve problems. It also has SEO benefits, as optimising your keywords and including a link to your website can boost your position in Naver’s search rankings.
A Naver Blog is automatically created when you open a Naver Account. Blogging has become very popular in South Korea in recent years, and should be used as part of your online marketing campaign and Naver SEO efforts.
Posting on your Naver Blog can be an effective way to express your opinion, promote your brand, website, products and services, share information in the region, and connect more effectively with your audience in South Korea. Naver Blog posts should deliver relevant, quality content that is suitable for your audience and naturally earn links and exposure in the process of doing so.
The importance of mobile SEO in South Korea
Mobile is huge in South Korea. The country has the highest smartphone penetration in the world, with the figure approaching 100% among young South Koreans. With mobile search now driving more traffic than PC, it is clear that if you want to succeed in South Korea you need to optimise your website for mobile.
Naver SEO checklist
- Submit your website to Naver.
- All content must be in Korean.
- Optimise your meta data and keywords.
- Ensure your content is of a high quality.
- Use Naver Café.
- Use Naver Encyclopaedia.
- Use Naver Knowledge.
- Use Naver Blog.
- Optimise your website for mobile.
So, ready to nail Naver SEO?
Optimising your website for South Korea is unlike any other SEO project. Local search engine Naver dominates that market, mobile is more important than anywhere else in the developed world, even the SERPs are laid out differently! But just because it’s different does not make it inherently difficult – the tips provided in this article will hopefully you give you a good, solid starting point. Good luck!