There isn’t a lot of information available about Russian or Yandex SEO written in English.
Russian SEO is a very interesting topic as Google is not the number 1 search engine in Russia, that throne belongs to Yandex.
What is even more interesting is that Yandex has recently made huge changes to the algorithm with less focus on links and more focus on user behaviour and authority.
Could this be a sign of things to come in the English variants of Google?
What Will I Learn?
Who better to teach us about Russian SEO than Russian & Ukrainian speaking Evgeniy Garkaviy from Temi.
This time he is teaching us about Russian SEO & ranking in Yandex!
Yandex is the biggest Russian search engine.
That is why if you want to start an online business in that country, you should focus on Yandex and not on Google.
I do not mean that you should forget about Google but most people use the Russian search engine for searching.
Let me show you some benefits of Yandex in comparison with Google (in Russia):
Last month, I saw this post by Harrison Jones talking about ranking in Yandex.
However in that post Harrison did not mention regions.
When doing SEO for Yandex, you should clearly identify your region. In Russia people usually promote their sites for big cities like Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
Since the country is very, very big it is not easy to find a business that covers Moscow and Vladivostok at the same time. The distance between these two cities is more than 9,000 km.
Take a look at the percentage of people in different regions who use Yandex and Google-
As you can see, more than 70% of people in Moscow use Yandex. In some regions it falls to almost 50%. I used Kaliningrad as an example because its people use both search engines evenly.
For international SEO, there is no point in using Yandex. However, you can use it for Russian speaking countries such as Ukraine, Belarus or Kazakhstan.
Why is region so important? In Google, people from the same country see the same search results for a single keyword except local listings, paid results etc.
When using Yandex, people from different cities see the different search results. It means that if you use the keyword “раскрутка сайта” [in English “website promotion”], you will see different results if you search from Moscow and if you search from Saint Petersburg.
Here is how it looks:
Keyword “раскрутка сайта” in Moscow region-
The same keyword “раскрутка сайта” for the region Saint Petersburg-
As you can see the results above are completely different for the same country.
That is why it is very important to know your region before doing SEO in Yandex.
When searching in Yandex Russians usually type a keyword with + region. For example “ppc services in Moscow” or “buy shoes in Rostov”.
In the end of 2013 the Yandex team at the Moscow conference announced that links will not be a ranking factor for commercial queries.
A new ranking algorithm was launched in 2014, but still Russian SEOs do not have a clear idea about what to do with links.
According to the latest research after removing link influence from ranking factor; 68% of all websites that were analysed dropped in rankings and only 24% showed increase in rankings.
Now this algorithm applied only to Moscow and in some other regions-
Personally, I think that such changes in algorithm ranking lead directly to increases in Yandex PPC spending.
If you are in a very competitive niche then you definitely must use keyword rich anchors. No anchor links have a very low impact on rankings.
Also, if you are promoting a website in a separate region then it is better to get links related to your region [see the winners above].
One of the most important differences between Google and Yandex is that with Google, new pages/sites in SERP appear or disappear in real time whereas Yandex has 3 types of updates:
Very often your site will drop or increase in rankings following some of those updates. It means that if there were not updates for a few days, then everything remains the same in the search results.
Sometimes you can see what happened when your site was dropped from the top 10 and in a few days after an update, reappear in the top 10 again.
So let’s take a look at the right way to optimize your site to rank in Yandex.
As I previously stated Yandex SEO is very similar with SEO for Google. Still there are more very important things that you should know. Site promotion in Yandex is not fast.
If you have a business in Moscow, then you should plan for at least 1 to 2 years before seeing real success.
If you are building a site from scratch and want to be successful in Yandex, then you must know this formula-
Yandex has its own Webmaster Tools very similar to what we have seen in Google Webmaster Tools. It is where you can run into problems if you are not fluent in Russian because the service is completely in Russian and there is no way to change the language.
I recommend hiring a person who is familiar with Yandex Webmaster Tools who can set everything up properly. Yandex Webmaster Tools has almost the same tools that Google Webmaster Tools has such as robots, sitemap, etc.
If you are promoting your site for the Russian market and doing everything correctly then it is possible to get good rankings in both major search engines: Google and Yandex.
Let me show you an example. This site http://www.travelfriendz.com/ru/ is multilingual and not very old.
Their Russian site is ranking very high in yandex.ru and in google.ru for the same keyword “сайт знакомств для путешественников” or “travel dating” in English.
Number 9 in Yandex
And number 3 in Google
If you know in what region you would like to promote your site, then you should do the following:
Yandex loves old resources which is not a big surprise.
However it is more difficult here for a new website to overtake an old site quickly.
So you have to spend time building a trusted resource.
In this field Yandex is even better than Google in identifying Russian content that is not unique.
The language is very difficult and each word has many variations.
Therefore it is very important to discover content that is not unique. Yandex even has an algorithm similar to Google Panda called АГС that is used to filter out low quality content.
Yandex has its own guidelines for webmasters that is available in English and may be quite helpful in certain situations.
If you are looking for exposure in Russia or Ukraine then you definitely want to make your website Yandex SEO friendly.
Gaining good rankings in Yandex is not as easy as it once was.
Until recently, the Yandex SEO algorithm was quite similar to Google’s and was heavily weighted on links and authority of incoming links rather than relevancy.Yandex recently changed its algorithm in a big way.
One of the new changes that upset many webmasters makes it almost impossible for new websites to rank better than established brands.
It seems no matter which search engine you try to optimise for – you are always playing a global game of cat and mouse!
Thanks for reading 🙂