(Updated with the latest stats on April 2020)
South Korea is an appealing destination for many businesses that are considering expanding internationally. The country has a high level of internet penetration, with 96% of its 51 million inhabitants being online.
The country sees particularly high levels of mobile internet usage. With mobile phone penetration at 118% (some people have multiple devices), and 96% of internet users owning a smartphone, it seems fair to say that South Korea is one of the world’s most mature mobile markets.
One thing that presents a potential challenge to digital marketers targeting South Korea, however, is the country’s search landscape. Whilst Google holds a monopoly in most search markets worldwide, that is not the case in South Korea.
This blog post will teach you about the most popular South Korean search engines and what you need to know about them in order to succeed.
Most popular Korean search engines
- Google 77%
- Naver 18%
- Bing 2%
Google is the most popular search engine in South Korea, accounting for 77% of the market share. This is a respectable figure, meaning that you cannot ignore the search engine when optimising your website’s SEO or doing PPC in the country.
However, you should be aware that Google’s share of the search market is substantially lower than most countries, so if you are targeting South Korea then it would be wise to consider other search engines as well.
Naver is the second most popular of the South Korean search engines, with a market share of 18%. With almost one in five searches taking place on this search engine, it is definitely one that you need to include in your search engine strategy.
The layout of Naver’s search engine results pages (SERPs) looks very different from what we are used to seeing on Google. The exact order and layout varies depending on the nature of the search query, but the typical SERP is split into a large number of different sections, including Encyclopaedia, Knowledge iN, Café, blogs, websites, images, videos, maps, news, academic publications, adverts and more. If you fully optimise your website using on-page and off-page Naver SEO techniques, it is possible for your website to appear multiple times in these different SERP sections.
Naver also has a search advertising platform, called Naver Ad. This is Naver’s equivalent to Google Ads, but it works very differently in terms of languages and location targeting, how many and where ads are shown, ad character limits, match types, ad extensions, budget control, bid adjustment, bid suggestions and its keyword tool.
Bing comes in at third place in our list of the most popular South Korean search engines, accounting for 2% of the search market. It is small in comparison to Google and Naver, but it is still worth considering if you want to maximise your chances of reaching your South Korean audience.