Search Marketing Tips For Yandex, Russia’s Top Search Engine

Globally, Russia is the eighth largest market of Internet users, and as we know, Google is playing second fiddle to Yandex, which is currently the main search engine in Russia with well over half of the market share.

Yandex makes hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and provides a broad range of online services (email, free hosting, PPC advertising network (Yandex Direct), maps, news, weather, and dictionaries). Comscore ranked the web property first in Russia with 34.9 million unique visitors in August 2010, It is also the 25th site in the Alexa Top 100. What’s more, Yandex is the default search provider in the Russian version of Firefox.

Russian Language In Connection With SEO

If your company is turning eyes to the Russian market, you might be considering  making a Russian-language version of your website to attract more local customers. You could have built your SEO strategy based on your experience in the English-speaking Internet, but if you’re building content in Russian, you should know some basic facts about this language that could  influence your SEO strategies.

Most important of the Slavic languages and the fifth most spoken in the world, Russian is used by 275 million people worldwide. That’s quite a lot, and your SEO campaign should be focused on your target audience only.

What is more, Russian is a pretty complex language, with various grammatical phenomena to be conceived. So having a Russian-speaking expert in your SEO team or outsourcing this service is a good solution.

Yandex Ranking Factors

Yandex was designed to handle the semantics of the country’s linguistic system. It has its own algorithm for indexing and ranking websites called Snezhinsk. This algorithm is based on over 1,000 ranking factors, the most important ones being age, unique content and quality backlinks.

Quotation/Citation index

Similar to Google PageRank, Yandex uses its own metric – the Quotation Index (aka Citation Index) – to indicate the site’s trustworthiness, ranging from 0 to 150,000. Trusted, non-public websites in Yandex have values between 150 and 1,000, while leaders of the Yandex Catalogue in the media sector have values up to 20,000. In general, the higher the Quotation Index, the firmer your positions in the Russian site are.

The Quotation Index is determined by the number and quality of your site’s backlinks, with quality being influenced by relevance of the context, geographical location of the linking site and the Quotation Index of your incoming links.


Geography is a very important factor for Yandex. All the queries typed by the users in the searchbox are divided into geo-dependent and geo-independent ones.

For example, if someone would search Yandex for a [hairdresser’s] (a geo-dependent keyword) using a Moscow IP, the results will be for that region only. On the contrary, a general query, for instance [download movies], would show results from different regions.

Yandex determines geo-dependence statistically. For instance, the query [cargo transportation] is geo-dependent because according to the statistic it is often accompanied by a certain location. Up to 30 percent of all queries in Yandex are geo-dependent.

How To Check Your Site’s Region In Yandex

Yandex would automatically assign every indexed site with a geographical location according to the location-by-IP data, domain name, contact information (zip code, telephone number) and the content in general.

Currently, Yandex supports 19 regions and 1250 smaller locations – cities and towns. You can check the region your site has been assigned in the Yandex Webmaster section (the service is available in Russian only).

How To Check Your Site’s Positions In Yandex Regions

You can manually compare your site’s ranking for a particular keyword in different regions using Yandex Advanced Search. Type your target location in the region box, go through SERPs and find your site’s position. First choose the advanced search option:

Then type in your query and the region.

There is also a special region-comparing feature in Yandex Webmaster (registration needed). It allows matching the results in two different regions on one page. Convenient enough, this feature has a crucial drawback. It has only six huge regions on the list: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

If you want to get the region comparison job done faster, you may use our free tool. It lets you check your site’s rankings in several (or all) Yandex regions at once; it also allows you to work with keywords in Russian while using an English interface.

Back to geotargeting -  as soon as Yandex crawls your site, it will be assigned with a particular region. If you’re ok with the region your site was assigned – lucky you! But sometimes Yandex gets it wrong and then you might have a hard time getting to rank in the region you want.

What If Your Site Was Assigned The Wrong Region?

In this case, you should request a region change from Yandex Webmaster by indicating a preferred region and providing a URL that proves relevance to that region.

If you have an office in Russia, you can specify its contact information to prove you’re doing business in there.

What If Your Site Should Be Associated With Several Regions?

You can choose up to 7 regions if your website is included in Yandex Catalogue (think DMOZ and Yahoo Directory). Being listed there will boost your Quotation Index and attract visitors.

There are two types of listings in Yandex Catalogue: free and paid (apparently paying raises your chances of inclusion). You can receive a paid listing in a matter of days. However, a site might be rejected due to bad quality. Yandex Catalogue editors are strict! Free listings are a matter of luck. You can apply and wait for several months.

What If You Don’t Want To Be Associated With Any Region?

If you don’t need regional ties, there’s an option for that in Yandex Webmaster.

Yandex Direct: PPC Options

Obviously, optimizing the Russian version of your site in Yandex will require building an efficient keyword list. When creating keyword lists for your American, German or French sites, you turn to Google and Bing for keyword suggestions. But what do you do in Russia?

Yandex has its own PPC service called Yandex Direct which is similar to Google AdWords and Bing’s AdCenter. Yandex PPC does allow phrase and exact match functionality.

Yandex Direct manages PPC campaigns, serving ads on a cost-per-click basis. You decide how much you pay for a click yourself. Minimal bid is 30 kopecks (about a cent), and a minimum order is 300 roubles (about 10 bucks).

Specifying regions for your ads is likely to increase the overall effectiveness of your ad campaign. You can either select several geographical regions or a single one in which you would like your ad to be displayed.

You can check estimated search volume for any keywords/phrases in any region using Yandex Wordstat. It provides keywords suggestions together with monthly search volumes. Unfortunately, you can only enter one seed keyword at a time, so the process of generating a keyword list will take a while.

Recently, Yandex has released an in-depth report on contextual advertising in Russia. The report covers three years, from summer 2007 to summer 2010. For the first six months of 2010, the market share of Yandex Direct was estimated at 75-80%. As of the summer of 2010, ads placed on websites via Yandex Direct were viewed by over 21 million users per day. The fastest growth is observed in Russia’s regions, much higher than in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

As you see, Yandex is evolving, and it creates brilliant opportunities for running region-targeted campaigns for international companies in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Still find SEO in Russia challenging? Believe us, it’s worth a try!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Multinational Search | Search Marketing: Multinational | Yandex


About The Author: is a Search Marketing Analyst at Link-Assistant.Com, a company providing professional SEO tools for webmasters, bloggers and SEOs. Olga enjoys writing about search engines and she is keen on everything web and SEO related.

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  • Grannada

    Saw this waaaay back, here:
    This article looks like quite a shamless copy to me. Pretty much summarizes this guy’s blog. Otherwise have a look at this post on regional issues, for example:
    It’s a shame they’re not updating it anymore :(
    Anyone knows the author?

  • Bengt Hansson

    Feels like a total ripoff from Nice that Olga Gabdulkhakova is trying to take cred from someone else work and methods of explaining without even give a link back to the original source. Is plagiarism and spinning of articles all your company do or do you also work with other spam methods like scraping and hacking?

  • Grannada

    Bengt! Glad to see I’m not the only one thinking that – and not the only one who knows the other blog! :D

    Hope Verona (do you happen to know if this is his/ her real name?) goes back to working towards the Russian market or, at least, starts sharing his/ her awesome knowledge and tips again!

  • Olga Gabdulkhakova

    Bengt and Grannada, thanks for your comments. Actually there was no intention “to take cred from someone else work”.

    As a native speaker of Russian and an employee of a company that is very much focused on SEO, namely that in the Russian-speaking internet, I wanted to provide valuable info and accompany it by screenshots from Russian-language pages with English comments.

    The blog post you refer to is just a small piece of the research presented in my article. There’s nothing there about the ranking factors, PPC, statistics and the linguistic peculiarities to be concieved. This article was written fully by myself, so please calm down and don’t blame people of plagiarism before you read it carefully ;)

  • Olga Gabdulkhakova

    I’ve just received an email from Preston Carey who runs business development for Yandex in the US and western Europe. He has noticed a minor correction – PPC does allow phrase and exact match functionality.

    Guys, please bear this alteration in mind. Thanks, Preston!

  • Preston Carey

    Hi Olga,

    Thanks for the correction on the article. Great article and update on Yandex!

    Thanks again,

  • Elisabeth Osmeloski

    Bengt, Grannada – that is an accusation we’d take very seriously around here – and we do often spot check our contributors to ensure that doesn’t happen. however, I will stand by the fact that Olga did her own version of this information, and as she said, her article here has much more to it than that small section.

    That said, I do think that site you’ve pointed out also has valuable information, and we should link to it as a resource. However, it’s in unfortunate that they haven’t posted anything further since May 2010.

  • Verona

    How cool! So much attention to my old “small piece” of old content :-)

    I have to say I wrote another one on raking factors:
    And onother one on quotation index:

    And you can find more goodies using Site: in Google.

    I really don’t mind guys. I wrote it for fun and for geeks like myself, as long as I had some insights to share, and not for fame. But a link would be appreciated of course :-) I might even start updating it again ;-)

  • Verona

    And a small correction: Yahdex changes search algorithms quite often and Snezhinks was long time ago. The last time I heard about a new update, it was called Obninsk (September 2010).

    Yandex Webmaster blog is probably a better source that some unknown person’s blog that has not been updated since half a year and has 50 pages overall ^^


  • Verona

    Hey Elisabeth,

    You mentioned you’d link to my blog, but I still don’t see any references to my original content. I do believe I am entitled to a link from this great piece pf content.


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