Has Google Overtaken Naver In South Korea?

South Korean flagSince roughly 2006 Naver has been the leading search site in South Korea. Consistently Google has been unable to break through and — according to various traffic estimates — has less than 5 percent of the market there. That’s as recently as Q4 of last year according to data I’ve seen.

Mysteriously, however, StatCounter is now showing Google soundly defeating Naver, and having done so since February of last year. I’m not in the habit of checking the status of the Korean search market often so this is the first time I’ve seen the StatCounter chart.

StatCounter Korea

Everything I’ve seen and read shows Naver controlling something between 70 percent and 80 percent of the market in South Korea. Therefore it would appear that there’s something very wrong with the data in StatCounter’s chart. Alternatively it may be that StatCounter is measuring a very small and selective sample of Korean websites.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Google: Outside US | Google: Web Search | Search Engines: Korea Search Engines | Search Engines: Outside USA | Stats: Popularity | Stats: Size

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • J Capwick

    Its not that accurate. The Korean website’s Ive seen actual current data for, has Google catching up and closing the gap a far bit in recent months, but Naver is still king when it comes to Korean language on their turf (Google does ok with English lang queries over there, but thats a minority). However, Naver likes to send searchers to its own sites, so that takes a portion of overall SEO traffic out too. No idea what statcounters sample in South Korea is.

  • http://www.villa-bali.com/ Daniel Rouquette

    Based on my experience, even though my website ranks pretty well on Google Korea, 90% of my traffic still comes from Naver. Thus I think StatCounter’s stats are wrong, same goes with their browsers market share in Korea.

  • http://twitter.com/AlesiaKrush Alesia Krush

    Wow, this is almost exactly the question I got asked when I wrote an article about Google Search Vs Naver Search in May 2012! The question was a follows [quote]:

    >>According to the [StatCounter] statistics, Naver was ahead of Google until last year
    when a huge change has resulted in Naver occupying only a very small
    share of the market, and Google being way on top. Is this accurate?>>

    And this was my answer [quote]:

    >>Hmm, these numbers look off to me. For example, check out this page http://www.edaily.co.kr/news/N…,
    it says that Naver holds over 70% of the market. Also, if you look at
    the stats for Yandex (Russia’s numero uno search engine), StatCounter
    reports 43% as of April 2012 http://gs.statcounter.com/#sea…, while this article here http://www.bloomberg.com/news/… talks about almost 60% as far as Yandex is concerned. They must have a different methodology.
    Besides,
    it says on the StatCounter website that their statistics are “directly
    derived from hits (not unique users)”. So, who knows…>>

  • Rajesh Magar

    Thanks Akesia,
    can you please share list of resources to get exact statistics about latest market trends. Where we can easily find out performance metrics of all major context. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/HiSeoSem Korean SEO Guy

    Interesting! Extremely wrong! Would like to introduce an valuable data source from log app company. http://internettrend.co.kr/trendForward.tsp

  • Hanna

    Among some other cultural ‘preference’ aspects ( i.e: Koreans like to see multiple data on the search engine vs a blank slate on google), Naver’s map can identify businesses better as well as giving bus routes that google maps cant fully do ( unsure whether its relevant to Korea preventing googles satellite access mentioning privacy issues)

    Naver still does pull more relevant data than google does esp if its relevant to a very specific topic. Navers SEO isheavily integrated with their naver blogs because Koreans unlike in the West don’t create wordpress sites rather use naver blogs or tistory etc.

    Google Korea can’t pull this data and is not integrated into it hence the lack of reason for Koreans to use it as well as the fact that Naver is more than a search engine. It even has its own bean sprout points to collect which you can then donate to your charitable causes, naver’s N cloud drive gives fifty gigs for free etc. What this all means is that naver understands and caters to the Korean culture better. The demographic that would search on google would be limited to expats and ghyopos predominantly.

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