Naver Search Engine is a misnomer.

Naver is NOT a Search Engine. It's Social Media.

Published 13 December 2023
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First off, allow me to mention that I use Naver daily and I’m a fan. As a near 30-year resident, I’m also proud that Korea is the only country where Google is not the primary tool for search and that Koreans have created their own very impressive tools. 

I use Naver for finding restaurants and cafes constantly. Naver Maps is my navigation partner (and its blinking red screen has probably saved me from a few speeding tickets). I’m a member of some Naver Cafes and I use it to find info on a regular basis. 

None of that make "Naver Search Engine" a real thing. 

What is a Search Engine? What is Social Media?

My undergraduate degree was in philosophy and it taught me to appreciate semantics - the study of meaning in language.  To communicate, words must have shared meaning. You can’t just use words randomly because you think they sound better. 

So let’s look at the definition of a “search engine” from Wikipedia:

“A search engine is a software system that finds web pages that match a web search. They search the World Wide Web in a systematic way for particular information specified in a textual web search query.”

And here’s

“a computer program that searches documents, especially on the World Wide Web, for a specified word or words and provides a list of documents in which they are found.”

I think they should have used “web pages” instead of documents, but you get the point. 

Now let’s take a look at social media on Wikipedia

“Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of content, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks.”

And on

“websites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts”

Okay, now that we’ve got our terms defined, let’s deliver the facts. 

Naver Search Delivers… More Naver

For a detailed look at a Naver vs. Google search results comparison, have a look at our article, “Naver’s a Pub, Google is Moody’s”, where we compared two different search results pages. There you will find a detailed outline of the many, many different sections of a Naver search result - with an overwhelming majority of the links going to internal Naver properties rather than the World Wide Web.

"Saying "Naver search engine" is like calling your fridge a gourmet restaurant because it has food in it."

Calling Naver a search engine is like calling your fridge a gourmet restaurant because it has food in it. 

Try any search yourself and compare.

Any cursory view of Naver search results makes it obvious that their results are primarily assembled to deliver “technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of content, ideas, interests and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks”. 

Only tangentially are they concerned with “searching the World Wide Web in a systematic way” - if at all. It’s almost like they only include a little section with 3 - 4 links in it so that they can squeeze into meeting the strict definition of a search engine. 

“But Naver DOES Have SOME WWW Links” 

Some insist saying, "Naver search engine" is justified because it does provide website results amidst user generated content and internal links. And yes, nestled between the mountains of Cafes, Blogs, Q & A forums and other platforms rests a few actual search results returning a handful of external website listings.

However, the presence of minor internet search functionality does not transform its core identity. Sticking with our analogy theme, if a fast food joint’s menu is 90% burgers, fried chicken & French fries while a measly 10% of the menu is salads you can't call it a health food restaurant.

Naver essentially operates as a platform for sharing, promoting, shopping and networking - more akin to social media. Search capabilities take a backseat to enabling virtual community engagement. Naver search results are much more like those of Reddit, Quora & LinkedIn than Google. 

Admittedly, search engines like Google are incorporating some social features in search results nowadays as well, particularly for local searches. But their fundamental purpose remains indexing the open web and matching user intent to the most high quality external websites possible. By contrast, Naver search explicitly focuses inward on internal content and commercial opportunities. 

Conclusion: "Naver Search Engine" is a misnomer.

No, Naver is not a search engine. 

But you know what? That’s just fine. 

It’s a very helpful platform.

When you want websites, you go to Google. When you want to consume and share info in Korean, Naver’s a great place to go.  

Naver is a Pub (aka social media). Google is Moody’s (aka a search engine). 

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