Universal search (blended search) has been one of the key features in the Korean search market even before Google introduced it in 2007. In the early stages of the Internet, there was a small group of trained people that could make a website. Naturally, there was not enough content shown on the web, particularly in the Korean language. I think it became a background of universal search in Korea, where different types of search results are displayed on the first page by categories such as web pages, directory listings, images, and videos. Relatively, the universal search gives users enough to feel rich content while displaying all kinds of search results on one big screen. It looks quite nice, but I'm not sure about the quality now.
Google universal search displays the search results seamlessly without distinction of web page or video, while Naver and local portal sites classify the search results by categories and the order of category is decided by keywords character. For example, if you search for "weather" in Google, there will be only web page results (of course, Google also recently enhanced the algorithm, so it will be different if you search with a local term like "weather seoul"), but Naver will bring you all weather information; not only geographical weather but also the latest weather from major newspapers and forecasts at once on the first page.
From one point of view, it is a very unique UI and there is no doubt it gives rich experience to users. It is the main reason that Korean netizens are unfamiliar with Google search results. However, if you're a marketer, the situation is completely opposite to your intention. Because most top search results are occupied with the paid search section, there are only a few ways to be shown with natural search and the blog category will be the last key territory in Naver.
Let's dive into how to optimize your blog in Naver (including other local portals).
1. Naver loves Naver Blog!
Before, starting a blog in Korea, you need to decide which blog channel is proper to your marketing strategy. I have tested with various blog channels and the conclusion is that Naver blog usually gets an advantage in search results in the Naver blog section. Of course, you can start any blog you want such as WordPress, Tistory, and Blogger, but you'll learn that the Naver blog is much easier to get your visibility in Naver.
2. Real-time mode
The search results of the blog section in Naver are processed in real-time mode. Some people may doubt why real-time mode in search results is a problem. I believe that the quality of content is not the newest. Naver may show you fresh content everyday but you'll find that it is hard to get what you exactly want because Naver just displays the lastest instead of the best results. Below is my test article to show the real-time mode in Naver and it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to get visibility in the top position.
3. Poor algorithm
The position of the blog section in universal search of Naver usually is placed higher than directory listing or web page results. And it's not difficult to get on the first page if you can speak Korean and know some search algorithm. The below image is an interface of the Naver blog and four key components of title, body content, category, and tags decide the relevancy of content.
From a position of a marketer, the Korean online market is a strict and unfair market compared with Google. It's like a zero-sum game; even now Google is also blamed for similar reasons when seen from the outside. I will discuss this in a later column about the paid search market in Korea.
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Mark Kum is search director at GroupM Korea. He formerly worked at EC21, a leading digital agency for the B2B sector in Korea. Before that, in iProspect Korea with an in-depth understanding of SEO/SEM and was involved with top Korean brands such as Samsung Printer, Samsung Camera, Samsung mobile, Hyundai Motor Company, and Samsung Tesco. Kum always returns great results with re-contract and retaining clients. Unlike other online marketers, his career is based on manufacturing that provided him a deep understanding in B2B marketing. Kum also gives profound insights to clients because he is not only a search marketer but his background includes global marketing and economics.
March 19, 2014