Naver SEO: How to do SEO in South Korea w/ Chris Shin – #CrawlingMondays 21th Episode

Learn how SEO works in South Korea: Naver vs. Google usage: Top search ranking factors in Naver, How SERPs are organized in Naver, What are the top SEO tools to use And more! Take a look 🙂

Today I bring you another very special edition of Crawling Mondays. This is about Naver SEO with Christian who is one of the top specialists in South Korea. He’s going to share with us how people search out there, what he does to optimize for them using Naver. Let’s take a look.

Hi, my name is Christopher Shin and I grew up in the States and educated in the states, and I’ve been doing SEO for quite some time. Primarily I’m more veteran in Google SEO and about four years back I found an opportunity to do some SEO work in the South Korean market and I brought myself out slightly four and a half years ago, and started my own agency. My agency is called Digital Asset Directors. Started with nothing and now we’ve grown to more than 20 SEO professionals and we now do more than 1.7 million in annual billings.

So, there’s two major players within the service market for the South Korean market. The first one is Naver. Surprisingly a lot of people would think that Daum, which is the other search portal in South Korea would be number two at least, but lo and behold, Google has slowly swooped it’s way up. Now they’re at the point where Google is doing about 30%-40% of market share, and Naver has lost quite their touch in a search engine share in the market.

What is the share at this point of Naver?

A lot of people are estimating it’s about 60/40 split, on a conservative level 70/30, but Google has strongly come up. Surprisingly Naver has lost a lot of Millennials and Gen Z audiences, and it’s not Google, they lost it to YouTube. So, YouTube is now taking part as a search engine. What these younger guys are doing is they’re actually going online searching for videos. That way they don’t have to actually read anything but actually view a video content to get their answers. So, when you ask how people actually use each of these search platforms, and I’m gonna include YouTube as a search platform because a lot of people are searching on that video platform.

A lot of people tend to use Naver for local restaurants or places to eat, things of that nature. A lot less for any informational type of search. Google is the go to place for any research related searches or something that they have a question to and they need specific answers to. What the younger audience is again, they’re kind of like jumped over to YouTube to find answers. So, if they want to do something like, I don’t know, how do you make a fried egg? They jump right into YouTube and just watch a video and consume information that way.

Most of these usages of search is mobile or desktop still?

It’s dominantly mobile. It’s about 70/30 split. But based on the clients that I run, in terms of the actual conversions within digital sense, I’d see PC still having some edge. Sometimes running up into the 60% versus mobile, but it’s generally about 50% PC, 50% mobile in terms of purchase behaviors. But the search in general itself is about 70%-80% towards mobile.

So, there’s part of a difference between a Google SERP as opposed to Naver. For Naver almost always the first priority is going to be focused on their paid search side of things. So, you’ll almost get anywhere from 4-5 search paid links, and on the bottom you can even get like 5-10 more. It’s just a huge list. So, that’s almost always when you view the first section. The second section is then going to be about their blogs. So, their own products, which is going to be Naver Blog, Naver Cafe, then comes a new section. So, the organic is pretty much way at the bottom and they’re quite hard to find.

So, in terms of the click through rate. Where most of the clicks are arising from, and I have tested this with various clients. Most of the clicks are coming in from Naver Cafes, then Naver Blogs. The reason why Naver Blog has pushed out as opposed to the Naver Cafes is that I think people who are having a lot less trust with Naver Blogs because there’s been many instances where agencies are using click farms to drive fake clicks just to increase their rankings, so a lot of people are trusting towards for Naver Cafes. But at the same time for branded terms, one of the most important things that a lot of foreigners don’t know about is that for major branded keywords, I’m talking about brands such as Coca-Cola, they would always hit number one, and when I say number one, they would hit anything number one, as in above all advertising in anything Naver related.

So, Naver is actually set up into three group sets of algorithms. The first one is C-rank, which stands for Creator Rank, and it’s more focused on their internal products, which is cafes and blogs. Their second major algorithm group set is called P-rank, which is kinda like a copy of this thing called Page Rank off of Larry Page, but it’s not really meant as Larry Page’s page rank, it’s more of page rank as in their ranking within pages. So, they have a different understanding of what page rank is. The third is this new algorithm, they launched it early last year, it’s called DIA. It stands for Deep Intent Analysis. So, it’s kind of like trying to get into that whole LSI stuff, synaptic search. I’m trying to get a better understanding of the actual intention of each specific keyword.

To give you a bit more elaborative description of what page rank is, P-rank, which is more so for organic ranking. Basically traffic to the website, how much people are going to the website. You’ll see a lot of Korean companies unknowingly use click farms run by A’s and C’s to kind of increase their ranking. So, their traffic is the number one I think. Well, not at least number one, but it’s up there with the key algorithms. Number two is number of back links and you get a lot more boost if the back links are coming in from Naver’s own properties. When I say Naver’s own properties, I’m talking about Naver Cafes, Naver Blogs, anything that has to do with Naver. If you put a back link on there it’s treated more favorably.

Other ranking factors that I did find out was just pretty much the basics, and you’ll pretty much rank. Especially when you start working keywords within the descriptions of the meta descriptions, meta titles. When it comes to content matching, it’s not as sophisticated as Google’s, but you know, does that mean that, oh, I can just manipulate the system and rank number one? No, not really. There’s a lot more to that but, those are the key signals that I found to be true.

One question, are these signals true only for the organic results or also to rank the Naver Cafes and the blogs?

They’re slightly different. When it comes to blogs, it’s number of registered users. They also take into consideration for Naver blogs the type of reviews, number of reviews, and how many people actually liked the blog. So, that’s basically the C-rank algorithm based on popularity.

So, those having a Korean ccTLD place of ranking factor in Korea?

I personally believe so because the Korean Naver platform is actually based on the Korean language, so they prefer their native settings, which is co.kr.

And the rest of the technical configurations on the home page technical configuration, do they work in the same way than Google? Like for example, does Naver respect the configuration and are robots.txt?

So, yes they do respect robot text follows. They also request you to upload site maps. Canonical, yes they respect that.

Meta robots?

Meta robots, everything. So, they actually ask you to do that stuff. The various first, obvious approach that we need to address is the keyword RND’s. So, I’ve tried various tools that’s available overseas such as A’s, [inaudible 00:00:09:11], et cetera, et cetera. But what I did find to be the most useful tool for us is using Naver keyword tools. So, that’s a free tool that you can have access to and as long as you have a paid advertising account on Naver. We then need to start tracking the data. In Korea, there’s a three basic tools that most clients would use. The first one is Naver Analytics. The second one is Google Analytics, but one of the more popular ones is called Ace Counseling.

In terms of the in depth data that you can derive from these each individual tools, based on experience, I think Google Analytics does provide the most in depth detailed analysis of the data that you can get. Naver Analytics is very vague, it doesn’t really give you the much other than here’s your traffic, here’s how many people visited a particular page, and that’s pretty much it.

Naver webmaster tools, do you use it at all, or what is your opinion?

I recommend all of my clients to implement Naver webmaster tools and that’s just because I wanted to show Naver that yes, we’re also using your properties to track some organic data and et cetera. So, we favor Naver and that’s what we want to tell them. It’s just a signal to them saying that, yes, we value the product offerings that you guys have available. So, a lot of my foreign clients when they first come in, all they have is Google search console and analytics and everything that’s Google related, and we will start pushing them to start adding on Naver just because of those specific reasons.

Does Naver give you the ranking position through the webmaster tools, or that is not …

No.

Okay, okay.

It’s pretty neanderthal.

I see, I see. Thank you very much.