Yandex LLC has long been the biggest search engine in Russia. Not only is it a search engine, but it is also a web browser, which is separately titled as YaBrowser. It performs mostly the same functions as Google, including text, maps and news searches, and also runs a paid advertising service.
Yandex is not only popular in Russia but also in Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.
The company and its media division are currently based in Moscow.
The History of Yandex
The company was devised by two friends, Ilya Segalovich and Arkady Volozh. They came up with the concept and title (which cleverly stands for Yet Another iNDEXer) in 1993. Both Segalovich and Volozh’s backgrounds were in computer science and software development.
When was Yandex officially launched?
Yandex.ru was officially launched on the 23rd of September 1997. Impressively, the company unveiled targeted advertising, referred to as contextual advertisements, in 1998. This was ahead of Google.
Is Google more popular than Yandex?
The company continued to grow throughout the 2000s. Because of the enduring success of the browser, Google’s 2006 launch in Russia wasn’t as successful as it was forecast to be. In 2009, Mozilla Firefox 3.5 replaced Google with Yandex as its default web browser for computers in Russia. This effectively ended Google’s chances of taking the Russian web browser’s top spot.
In this decade, Yandex’s influence also spread to Russia’s neighbours, with its launch in Ukraine and the subsequent opening of the Kyiv development centre in 2007. It also launched an English-only version of the browser in 2010 in the hope of strengthening its presence globally.
Google was never able to overtake Yandex, although it has steadily remained in 2nd place since its Russian launch. Yandex appears as the default search engine on most Russian phones today.
The Importance of the Yandex Search Engine
Yandex has the third biggest market share in the world and is the main search engine in the whole of Russia. So if you want your pages to rank in Russia, you’ll have to make sure your SEO strategy caters to Yandex’s requirements.
Furthermore, if you’ve got web pages that contain the Russian language, you have to use Yandex to get them to rank. It’s difficult to get sites that are purely in the Russian language to rank on Google. Therefore, if you want your web pages to rank at all, you need to look to Yandex as your prime target.
From an SEO point of view, Yandex is also important thanks to the following factors:
It’s easier to rank on Yandex than it is on Google
Not only is it easier for Russian-language sites to rank on Yandex, but there’s also less traffic than the likes of Google and Bing, making it easier to get to the top ranking spots. Yandex’s algorithm is also a lot less advanced, which not only makes it easier to rank but also reduces the chance of your site being penalised.
Even if your site is penalised for whatever reason, it’s easy to contact the customer care team and inquire about the reasoning behind your site being penalised and ways in which you can fix it.
Yandex helps you rank on other search engines
The SEO ranking factors of Yandex are similar to that of Russia’s other national search engines, including Russia.ru. This means that by following the guidelines laid out by Yandex, you are also meeting the SEO preferences of other search engines simultaneously. Russia.ru has even less competition than Yandex, allowing you to rank even higher.
Russian eCommerce is still developing
In parts of Russia and neighbouring countries, particularly Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, eCommerce remains untouched relative to the rest of the world. For this reason, getting your services to rank on Yandex could be a massive business investment.
Many companies have already jumped to take advantage of this emerging marketplace, but there is still plenty of space.
What Market Share Does Yandex Have?
As of 2022, the company holds 60.98% of the Russian market share, according to Statista. Google currently stands with 37.79% of the market, having been on a steady decline since 2019, when it held 40.57%. Although Facebook is currently banned in Russia, Google Search, Maps, and YouTube can all still be accessed, which is why Google has managed to remain in 2nd place.
Yandex’s market share in other countries
In neighbouring countries, Yandex’s market share is significantly reduced. In Belarus, for example, the company owns 16.23% of the market share, whereas Google has 82.19% as of July 2022.
Yandex’s global market share
Despite being less popular in the likes of Belarus, Yandex’s market share globally is still significant. Yandex’s current worldwide market share is 1.49%, according to Statcounter. This makes the company the third biggest search engine in the world, after Bing and Google. It currently has a bigger share than the likes of Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, and Baidu.
What Other Services Does the Yandex Company Offer?
The company has emulated Google’s model by not only providing search technology but also several other useful services, available both on the web browser version as well as its app.
The services that Yandex users have access to include:
- Alice (virtual assistant)
- Disk (a file storage service)
- Launcher (application launcher)
- Metrica (used for web analytics)
How Does Yandex Work?
Although it’s technically easier to rank on Yandex than on Google, there is still a range of criteria that your website has to meet to be approved by the search engine. Some are similar to Google, while other aspects are totally unique to the Russian market.
Yandex assesses the following ranking factors:
While Google claims to not consider user engagement a ranking factor, it is one of the top components of a successful SEO campaign for Yandex. Specifically, Yandex looks at how long users spend on your webpage and ranks sites based on this. The longer a browser dwells on your page, whether to read content or watch videos, the higher the page will likely rank.
We would recommend against using pop-ups as a means of increasing user engagement, as this is often penalised by Yandex.
Your content needs to be stronger to rank on Yandex than it does on Google. When assessing a webpage, Yandex is particularly sensitive to spam in the form of keyword stuffing and over-optimisation. Make sure to do sufficient keyword research beforehand and only publish content that is well-written and informative.
As with most search engines, the closer your content is to clearly answering the search intent, the higher it will rank.
Furthermore, your content needs to be written clearly in the Russian language – anything that reads as a poor translation will most likely be ignored. You’ll also need to familiarise yourself with the Russian Internet Restriction Bill to know what you can and cannot mention.
Yandex also judges on-page SEO, such as meta tags, image descriptions, URLs, and page titles.
The quantity of backlinks that you have is irrelevant to Yandex – it’s the amount of traffic that these backlinks pull in that counts.
For over 10 years, the trustworthiness of businesses has played a major role in how web pages rank on Yandex. The company published the document, Quality-biased Ranking for Queries with Commercial Intent, in 2013. In this paper, the company demonstrated how commercial trustworthiness influences ranking.
According to this document, the most important sub-categories of this ranking factor include:
- Service quality
- Design quality
To satisfy all of these categories, you’ve got to make sure your products come with detailed descriptions and prices. Additionally, you need to provide a delivery service and return policy. An easily contactable support team and standard contact number will also help boost your site’s overall trustworthiness.
Domain age is, unfortunately, one of Yandex’s biggest ranking factors. If you’re launching a new site, this is out of your control unless you purchase an old domain that’s already ranking.
If your website is built for mobile use primarily, then it will likely rank higher on Yandex. This browser favours websites that have the quickest load time for mobile phones and generally offer good quality mobile displays.
Yandex has been Russia’s main search engine for over 20 years now, and, being a multi-faceted company, its dominance will most likely remain for years to come. If you’re looking to break into the profitable Russian market, meeting Yandex’s SEO standards is a must, not only on Yandex but on other Russian search engines, such as Russia.ru.
The search engine’s main ranking factors are domain age, user engagement, content quality, commercial trustworthiness, backlink traffic and on-page SEO.