Search Engine Marketing Korea

Search Engine Marketing Korea

The average Korean has more bandwidth,​ is​ online longer,​ and is​ quite efficient at​ extracting information out of​ the​ web. you​ would assume that their tool of​ choice would be Google. you​ would be wrong!

Quick overview of​ US Search Engine Market:
to​ Search Engine Marketers operating in​ North America and UK,​ the​ process of​ finding information is​ relatively straightforward. Go to​ Google or​ Yahoo,​ type in​ a​ query,​ look at​ the​ results. There is​ a​ choice between “organic” and “sponsored” listings( yahoo paid inclusion not withstanding),​ and most people pick one of​ the​ top few.
Eons ago,​ web designers in​ US wanted to​ show off their skills and had graphic heavy sites. Unfortunately for them,​ their bosses who were more interested in​ using the​ website as​ a​ sales tool,​ soon found that the​ fancy graphic sites took so long to​ load up on​ Jane’s dialup connection that she just went to​ the​ competitor to​ buy that widget. the​ content sites,​ who wanted to​ maximize their CPM revenues also wanted fast loading pages. Fast load,​ more page views,​ more money. “Substance” reigned supreme over “style”. “Minimalism” was the​ order of​ the​ day,​ and given the​ deep emotional scars people carry from the​ dial up days,​ to​ a​ large extent it​ still is​ an​ issue. it​ worked off to​ Google’s advantage—it is​ vastly easier for Google to​ evaluate the​ text and tags of​ a​ page for relevance to​ a​ query than to​ see if​ that cute flash is​ providing value to​ the​ user.

Korea is​ different:
You just have to​ see the​ Korean mobile games to​ see what I am talking about—Craigslist is​ “out”,​ Hello Kitty is​ “in”. the​ average Korean user is​ a​ little like a​ power gamer in​ the​ US. Bring on​ the​ bandwidth! Net Café is​ a​ booming business,​ and well,​ we all heard the​ story of​ a​ Korean gamer who dropped dead after playing 50 straight hours of​ online games ( ). Heart failure,​ stemming from exhaustion,​ was the​ official cause for this 28 year old.
Here in​ the​ US,​ we tend to​ think of​ glitz,​ flash and overdose of​ pictorial icons on​ a​ website as​ a​ glorified neon billboard. Superficial,​ been there,​ done that,​ not worth the​ bandwidth. We also use an​ alphabet to​ form words and to​ communicate and get information—the pictures and the​ “rich interface” is​ distracting for us. the​ Asian culture,​ on​ the​ other hand has traditionally used “characters” or​ pictorial representation of​ whole words to​ communicate. as​ a​ result,​ a​ text only representation seems inadequate and therefore a​ sign of​ lack of​ technological prowess. I had a​ hard time convincing some of​ my Korean counterparts that Google is​ actually very popular despite it’s simplistic look. the​ one fact that helped my case was the​ stock price of​ Google and it’s market capitalization—120 Billion dollars is​ well,​ 120 Trillion Korean “Won”. Unarguable!
The Korean Search Engine Marketing is​ dominated by Much more so,​ than even Google dominates the​ US. to​ understand why naver is​ so successful,​ let’s go into the​ details of​ how things work in​ Korea and how things differ from the​ US market.
When we are looking up something that interests us,​ we “google” it. “Googling” ,​ a​ recently coined verb,​ basically means feeding some keywords in​ a​ omniscient benevolent search engine to​ get some results. Higher ranking usually means relevance to​ the​ query and therefore exposure.
In Korea,​ things work in​ the​ way Ask Jeeves wanted to​ work,​ but never managed to​ hack it. And they work well.

Why is​ Korea a​ “winner take most” search engine market:
The best way to​ describe Korean Search Engine users is​ “trolling FAQ’s”. the​ portals have a​ knowledge base,​ organized by questions. Wikipedia,​ DMOZ,​ Usenet and Google Answers,​ while great projects,​ pale in​ comparison to​ the​ “knowledge iN” of​ Naver. the​ system revolves around asking the​ portal a​ question,​ and there is​ a​ high likelihood of​ a​ lot of​ answers to​ that questions by people who cared to​ write on​ the​ subject. the​ user gets a​ ranked list of​ answers and can either choose to​ read the​ answers,​ or​ a​ list of​ similar questions. She navigates through the​ questions and answers allowing her to​ refine her search efficiently.
Naver has the​ most extensive database of​ questions,​ and therefore,​ it​ is​ logical for people to​ use it​ to​ get their answers. to​ get the​ most exposure,​ people tend to​ contribute there the​ most. Network Effect--giving naver a​ 75% share of​ the​ “question answer” market.

Downtown Seoul is​ a​ small place:
One would think that people who want to​ promote their products,​ thoughts would swamp the​ system with SPAM answers. Fortunately,​ they have some in​ built safeguards. All users must be registered to​ provide answers and their answers are rated by the​ community. the​ best answers rise to​ the​ top,​ and for widely asked questions it’s a​ more reliable way to​ rank than the​ “back rub” Google algorithm. Furthermore,​ the​ person who is​ rated high on​ a​ few answers gets a​ higher “rap rating”.
This is​ a​ very important point in​ the​ Korean culture. People want to​ be seen as​ ethical,​ wise and helpful. No one wants to​ be caught dead,​ seen as​ a​ spammer,​ self promoter etc. since everyone knows everyone else. the​ “reputation” and “prestige” is​ important,​ as​ it​ is​ in​ any “web community” including (say) Usenet. Usenet,​ it​ takes a​ while to​ gain reputation in​ a​ certain group. the​ Naver ranking software allows faster and more permanent feedback on​ the​ ranking of​ the​ person.

Problems of​ Naver’s model--Monetization and homogeneity:
If you​ are looking for “organic” listings on​ naver,​ you​ would be shocked. Hard to​ find,​ since there are so many “sponsored” links. the​ sponsored listings often blanket true results which in​ my opinion takes something away from the​ value of​ the​ portal. Furthermore,​ Korea is​ much smaller than the​ English speaking base of​ Google and has a​ much more homogeneous culture. the​ cacophony and diversity of​ opinion in​ Google’s index is​ sometimes missing from Naver’s iN. These facts lead us to​ believe that Google may manage to​ rise from it’s anemic 10% market share eventually.
For more information about Search Engine Marketing in​ Korea visit:

Search Engine Marketing Korea

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