A History of Naver – From Birth to Domination


Content Marketing

How does South Korea use search and how does it differ from search behaviour in the UK?

We in the UK are most familiar with Google, Yahoo and Bing as the place to go for our online searches. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that just because we do something in a particular way in the UK, it does not necessarily mean that the rest of the world follows suit.

We know that the most popular search engine in Russia is Yandex and that China uses mostly Baidu. Now we will focus our attentions on the search methods of South Korea.

Again, (as with Russia and China) in South Korea there is a search engine far more popular than Google that has 72% market share. This is the search engine ‘Naver’.

Some differences in how Naver works in comparison to Google is that Naver search results display in categories such as “blog”, “video” and “image”, unlike Google where you receive a list of websites/pages to choose from.

When performing an image search in Naver you will receive usually 3 types of results – “blog entry”, “Café Post” or “Photo Album”. Google will simply display all images it feels are relevant to the search and you then have to search through the images to find the best one for its intended purpose. (See examples below).

The video results however, display in a similar way to Google.

The following images demonstrate the differing layout of search results when doing an image search for “Pink Flower” –

Notice how each image is cited from its ‘type’ of source – “blog”, “Café” or “photo album”.

There are hundreds of image results with no immediately visible source information to see.


Naver was established in June 1999 by a group of ex-Samsung employees. It has continued to grow throughout the last 12 years and as it stands today Naver owns over 70% market share in South Korea; followed by Daum which has a much lesser share of the market at 18%. Although Naver is mainly only known in South Korea it is still the fifth most used search engine in the world (after Google, Yahoo, Baidu and Bing).

Naver is owned by NHN (Next Human Network) and is derived from the word “Navigate” thus Naver aids in the navigation of the web. There are 2 types of search results, “Knowledge Search” (a user generated forum essentially. Questions are posted and other users answers are displayed) and “Comprehensive Search” (which provides multiple categories of results on one page from many sources). However, it is furthermore complex as Naver is also segmented into 8 components as described below –

The 8 Components of Naver –


Launched in 1999 it was the first Korean portal site to develop its own search engine and is the leader in Korean search services.


This is the largest online game portal in Korea providing games for everyone. It has more recently been reaching out to the worldwide customer market through global expansion methods. To date Hangame has 30 million subscribers.


Junior Naver is a child specific section of Naver that has very strong filters in place to ensure that ALL content is appropriate and ‘safe’. This aims to enable the child to browse at their leisure for fun and educational purposes without being ‘at risk’. There are currently 4 million subscribers.


An online donation portal dedicated to allow users to sponsor social contribution organisations at their leisure and convenience. It is aimed to enhance the realisation of the benefits of sharing. This is operated by the NHN Happybean Foundation. The total value of donations to date is 250 billion.


This was the first overseas subsidiary of Naver. Launched in 2002, this was the first exclusive game portal in Japan and is now the leading Japanese online game portal with 36.1 million subscribers.


Twitter-esque, Me2day is NHN’s micro-blog platform where users can share their ideas/experiences and opinions online. Like Twitter there is a character limit of 150 (to Twitters 140). This is accessible via the internet and mobile and has 5.5 million subscribers.


Naver Japan is an extension of the main search site into Japan providing search results and data that was previously very difficult to find. This extension site was launched in 2009 and so far there are 4 million subscribers.


NHN USA launched in 2005 for Naver to expand into English speaking countries such as countries in Europe and South America. There are 11.7 million subscribers.


The following table lists comparable search statistics between Google and Naver:-

Naver Stats Number of. Google Stats Number of.
34,000,000 Subscribers 146,000,000 Gmail Subscribers
130,000,000 Queries per Day 3,000,000,000 Searches per Day


The following tables list other non-comparable statistics of Google and Naver:

Google Stats Number of.
34,000 Searches per Second
2,000,000 Searches per Minute
121,000,000 Searches per Hour
98.29% Global Mobile Search Queries
Naver Stats Number of.
18,000,000 Unique Visitors per Day
950,000,000 Page Views per Day
12,000,000 Search Users
220,000,000 Search Page Views per Day



There is much speculation and rumour as to how someone outside of Korea would advertise on Naver. Many believe one is not permitted if your site is non-native to Korea. This is in fact inaccurate. Yes, it is very difficult to attain advertising space on the site, but this is predominantly due to the fact that Naver does not provide a translated manuscript for you to follow. All paperwork (information, contracts and documents) is in Korean therefore the first hurdle would be to find someone who can translate all documents accurately for you.

Naver can provide an agency to do this translating for you, for a fee.

The Main rules and restrictions which you must comply with are as follows –

1. You must provide proof that you are a legitimate business. You must be prepared to provide any requested documents such as your business licence. This does not have to be translated into Korean nor must you have a registered office in the country.

2. You must pay in advance of your media going live on Naver. The most common and acceptable method is to wire your fee directly to Naver in Korea. You can also send a cheque to their offices in the USA however this is a less common method. I imagine this would also take much more time. Time is of the essence when dealing in online advertisement.

3. You can only set financial restrictions in your campaign on ‘groups of keywords’ and cannot set maximum daily budgets. This is a problem that NHN are in the process of revising.

4. There is no auto-correct service in Naver search therefore the searcher must be more accurate when typing so as not to misspell words. However Naver does provide a ‘Did you mean?’ option similar to that of Google.

5. The more popular a keyword is, then the tighter the restriction and inspection is in the search in relation to relevance with your website.

The following explains how to set up a personal account on Naver in order to have full usage access of the entire site and its services.


1. Go to www.naver.com

2. The home screen will appear. Below the top green bar there is a grey box on the right hand side. You need to click on the bold text which means “Membership”

3. On the next page click on the far right icon of the world. This is for people outside of Korea to register.

4. This will take you through to a page of Terms and Conditions and other regulations to agree to. Once you have clicked in agreement to all, click on the green button at the bottom to continue.

5. You will need a number from Naver and you can choose to receive it by telephone or mobile phone. (The advice is to opt for mobile phone as it seems more efficient). Mobile is the left option and telephone is the right option. (Below)

6. In the next stage you must enter your international dialling code in the first box. (You can also simply input the name of your country for an auto fill but you must enter the country name in Korean not English)

7. Enter your telephone number and then click to continue (bold green writing). Soon you should receive your registration number through text message (if you opt for mobile (1)) and enter this number into the newly opened field.

8. Click to continue (bold green writing).

9. Hopefully all will go well at this point and the characters will appear to confirm success.

10. A new form will appear for you to fill in your personal details. This is similar to all online registration forms.

11. Type your username in capitals and enter an ID/user name (check the availability by clicking the sentence beside the box(see example below)).

12. Next enter a password and re-enter as usual. You must also enter a security question.

13. Enter your country.

14. Enter your gender.

15. Enter your DOB.

16. Enter your email address.

Example of the personal details form –

17. Click to continue.

!! Ignore the window that will appear and instead go straight to your inbox to open your email from Naver. There will be letters and numbers of a code contained in the email. Type this code in as instructed in the field below the button and re-type your email address.

18. Click to continue.

You should now be a fully-fledged member of Naver.

As language specialists, Search Laboratory provides Multilingual SEO and Multilingual PPC campaigns that are specifically localised to the target language. At Search Laboratory we can help you promote your site in all of your target languages using our expert team of in-house native speaking experts.


Data collected from the following sources –