If your consumer goods brand is doing business in South Korea then you need to be present on Naver. Optimising Naver Blog posts can really pay off in terms of traffic and brand awareness so you need to build it into your Naver marketing 2023.

What is Naver?

Naver was launched in 1999 and was the first portal website with it’s own inbuilt search engine. The site is actually the most popular search engine in Korea still (having held the number 1 spot since around 2005) although it is more of a walled garden portal.

A Portal?

Naver is probably more comparable to an organisation such as Yahoo! in that it offers a huge range of services to keep you on the site. These range from mail, the Naver blog, maps, an own payment wallet, a video platform, shopping, a knowledge forum and much more. This is key to understanding how to structure your Naver marketing strategy as it is in the interest of the company to keep users within their ecosystem as much as possible.

If you can achieve that with your content, then Naver will reward you with more traffic than if you simply use the usual SEO techniques that you also employ in other markets.

Consumers can also shop directly in the portal, or pull up a map to find a bricks and mortar location.

Naver vs Google in Korea

South Korea isn’t like China where outside sites such as Google are blocked, however as I mentioned above, Naver has the number 1 spot in terms of search traffic with around 60%. Google has the 4th spot behind local player Daum and YouTube.

Most of the Naver properties are not even indexed on Google so it’s clear that this is one way that Naver boosts their profitability with “internal” ads.

Realistically speaking, you probably need to optimise the content on your own website in order to be able to rank well on Google in Korea, especially for B2B content, however you shouldn’t neglect optimising Naver blog posts in order to directly build your brand awareness with consumers.

Ads are integral to any Naver Marketing Strategy

It doesn’t matter what you search for over on the portal, you’ll rapidly realise that it’s definitely a “pay to play environment”. If you’re used to the Google search engine results page (SERP) then this may be quite a shock. Firstly it’s visually really “busy” with all kinds of things squished onto the page – although this isn’t unique to Korea, other Asian markets are similar.

However, when you search you don’t just get 3 or 4 ads combined with a couple of banners – it’s like a full page of sponsored links that come up. Take a look at the screenshots I prepared on the search term “HiPP”… the translation is done by Google as my Korean is non-existent so please ignore the fact it translates to hip or heap & just focus on the structure…

You can see from this that with the amount of space dedicated to paid results, you probably will need to invest some budget into ads and not only focus on organic SEO.

What’s special about this?

Usually when we talk about blogs, we think of a site like this one of mine with my own domain name and set up. However in terms of the portal, the “blog” which is referred to is actually hosted on the Naver platform itself.

Naver Blog overview
naver vs google in korea
Naver blog

The platform features both personal and business blogs, but most importantly, they receive better visibility than any blog hosted on your own website. The “VIEW” tab is really quite prominent – see below as the portal wants to keep users here for as long as possible.

optimising Naver blog posts - an important part of your Naver marketing 2023
Look how prominent the VIEW tab is – this is where the blog is hosted

If you search on the platform then Naver gives priority to user generated content hosted on their own properties. That means that if you make good use of your blog, you can increase your visibility and grow your brand awareness.

According to the Naver Blog Report 2022, over 32 million blog posts were written there last year, so you can see this is a really mainstream location. You also have the option to customise the way your blog looks so that your branding is clear, and to engage with consumers via the comments.

How do you get one of these blogs?

Firstly you need to sign up for a Naver account…in a similar way to that where most of us have a google account.

Then you apply via  Official Blog (공식 블로그) and if you are able to meet the standards then you can get the green check mark to show that you have a verified brand account. See the screenshot below.

Verify your blog account as part of your naver marketing strategy - it helps with optimising Naver blog post 2023
See the green check mark next to the account name

You do have a meet a few criteria, but these are nothing too strenuous:

  • you need to have published a minimum of one article in the past year
  • you have to use just a single account for your business entity (so for example your sales and marketing teams can’t have separate accounts)
  • the blog must reflect the brand name – so I could use “Kathryn Read. International Expansion Explained” but not probably not just International Expansion Explained as that isn’t recognisable as my official company name
  • you need to have a profile picture and a blog cover photo (but then as a brand you’re going to want that anyway)
  • you have to keep to the operating principles.

So, as you can see, nothing too drastic.

Once you’ve been verified then your blog automatically gains credibility and authority in the eyes of the users, which can help you gain trust and get more eyeballs on your messaging.

Content: Optimising Naver Blog Posts

As with a blog anywhere else writing consistent content for suitable keywords is just as important here. I want to focus today a bit more on what is characteristic for Naver (& that’s not just the fact that posts have to be written in Korean).

Focus on Engaging Readers

The content you write on here needs to immediately grab the reader’s attention with short paragraphs and lots of photos interspersed between them. You need to engage the attention of your potential consumer and encourage them to stay longer and read more (or to move onto some of your other content eg a live stream by an influencer or a video of some kind, or perhaps to directly buy the product).

Whilst the algorithm favours specialisation, you need to keep things light and the tone conversational. It should be written in the same way that you’d discuss with a friend. Topics could be the background or history of your company, an introduction of your products or services but shouldn’t be overly promotional or technical. Stay away from jargon.

Don’t underestimate the power of visuals and great thumbnails – these are really a must to create the kind of engaging content that end consumers want to read. In the end, Naver rewards content that keeps users on their properties for longer, so whilst in general you always want to build your following on your own website, in this case you need to “play along”.

Learn How the Naver Algorithm Works

Obviously there are differences here to the Google algorithm that you may be more familiar with – Naver is a bit clunkier…

There are 2 parts to the algorithm:

  1. C-Rank.
    This looks at whether your blog has in depth info around specific topics. The authority and credibility of the creator is more in focus though than the content itself. This obviously favours those with more experience, although content quality is still relevant
  2. DIA Deep Intent Analysis
    How does this post match what readers want (is it helpful?). Parameters such as reader feedback and the duration that a visitor stays on the post play into the rating here (consequently, it’s worth making sure that posts are at least 1500 characters).

You can find more detail about the algorithm (& it’s regular updates) on the Search & Tech blog.

Consider Collaborations and Leveraging KOLS to increase your Visibility

As elsewhere in Asia, influencers play an important role in marketing in Korea. There are literally thousands of KOLs (Key opinion leaders) to be found on Naver, both on the blog but also in other locations such as LIVE, Cafes or on Selective where products can directly be endorsed.

If you have an influencer marketing strategy already, you should consider trying to cooperate with KOLs to increase your traffic. Leveraging the follower base of a famous blogger can make a huge difference to you as a smaller company when starting out in Korea – after all you probably don’t have the budget to be running continuous ads…

Don’t neglect to interlink with other properties on Naver

I’ve mentioned the other “properties” within the Naver portal a few times now. The advantage to having a variety of “functions” within one so called “walled garden” where other people (ie Google) can’t look in is not only in the monetisation opportunities for Naver themselves but also in the data which can be shared across applications.

Being able to share seamlessly between blog, video, livestream, shopping or Cafe (a reddit-like environment) obviously makes life easier than if you have to maintain separate profiles on all those different platforms and build up new follower groups for each one. Instead you can leverage your blog to get the maximum value for your organic traffic (& let’s face it, you’ll have to pay as well to get true traction, so might as well maximise what can be had organically).

A strong Naver Marketing Strategy can elevate your results in Korea

As I stated towards the beginning of this post, Naver takes a different approach to Google when it comes to search results. Most search engines merge website and blog results in their organic SERP, however Naver separates these out by category. In fact the SERP layout varies according to each search term – if you search on there in English, you quite often get dictionary definitions into Korean as the first section!

With the obvious VIEW tab, user generated content is favourised meaning that you need to focus on optimising Naver blog posts. This can bring you more visibility and awareness. Whilst your website isn’t so in focus here, you can link from your blog to your home page to confer authority and underline that you are the official representative of your brand.

The disadvantage with the Naver algorithm is that because it prioritises user generated content, this may not be the best answer to a consumer’s question. As I’ve said though, optimising for the algorithm can certainly pay off in terms of traffic.

Think of Naver as the place you are talking directly to your end consumers as a brand, and Google where your trade partners may be searching to find more about you in a more formal setting.

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If you are interested in doing business in South Korea, you might also find these posts helpful:

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Kathryn

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