SEO on Yandex in Russia

Global search is immensely important and competition is fierce – where there is competition. Google remains the dominant platform globally, but does have stiff competition in several international markets. Among them is Russia where the local search engine Yandex has successfully fended off the surge of Google. According to Search Engine Watch, Yandex leans on their knowledge of local search in Russia and their consistent refinement of their search quality. To that point, Yandex has made several recent improvements that are worth noting for their innovative nature and SEO implications.

Are Recent Results More Important?
This heading presents an interesting question to which Yandex contends the answer is – Yes. They have refined their ranking formula for queries related to the latest events and news that now returns the user a group of links of the most relevant, recent documents. That refinement utilizes a real-time robot, Orange, which is designed for indexing regularly updated websites. All results from such a search can additionally be filtered viewing those from the last three days. This refinement addresses a segment of Yandex search that receives much attention. According to the company blog, search queries regarding the latest events and news are some of the most popular on the search engine, from 3-% of all searches. As such, this improvement makes it easier to find the most recent information on Yandex’s SERPs.  In terms of SEO, companies should utilize news releases optimizing for relevant key terms to be able to be profiled in such SERPs.

Social Searching
Google made waves with their introduction of Google Search Plus Your World, and now Yandex has introduced a similar measure. Yandex added content from social networking sites across the board and when a user searches for a particular person, for example, public profile information will result. Additionally, they have instituted a partnership with microblogging site Twitter making public tweets available in search query results, thus adding in a layer of real-time content. This particular search technology is run by Topsy Labs, a company that specializes in indexing real-time social data. According to a Yandex statement, “Social networking has given people the opportunity to share the latest news and exchange links.” The statement continues, “Using this information, we can significantly improve our news results and provide our users with the information that is interesting for many.”

Clearly, Yandex is trying to retain the competitive edge in their Russian market.  Statistics vary depending on the source; StatCounter has Google with 55.9% market share while has Yandex with 59.4% market share. Regardless of the exact number, competition is fierce between these two giants in the Russian market. As a result, businesses catering to the Russian market should be keeping a close eye on Yandex and employing SEO for both search engines. Partnering with SEO companies to optimize specifically for these major players is a good strategy, but one that also utilizes paid search and social media marketing to further drive targeted traffic is best. A similar battle is being waged by Google in China with local search giant Baidu, and we will be tracking each as search innovations continue to progress.

There has recently been some interesting news that has dropped on the international front regarding search engine optimization and social media. Russian search engine and purported Google rival Yandex announced a partnership with the social media site Twitter that would allow public posts from the micro-blogging site to be included in Yandex’s Blog Search results.

This partnership comes on the heels of a public disagreement between Google and Twitter over the search-ability of the latter’s Tweets within the international search engine. Tensions rose when Google released its new “Search Plus Your World” in January 2012, which focused on enhancing the search engine experience for users by integrating Google+ updates into Google search results.

In effect, however, this meant that Google+ pages for businesses and individuals were promoted to the top of search results, regardless of their true authority or SEO value. Twitter handles, on the other hand, appeared much lower down on the list of results. This outraged Twitter, with the company releasing a statement that criticized Google for these changes. The company emphasized the point that Twitter was a primary source of news and information on the web, often breaking news before many major media outlets. Google’s exclusion of public Tweets was counterintuitive to its mission in helping people find information that they are looking for.

Google’s response to Twitter’s statement included two main points. The first was that Google had never in its history indexed the “@” in its search results. This means that, whenever people submitted queries in the “@” format, they were not immediately led to the appropriate Twitter handles. Google’s second point was that Twitter did not renew an agreement with Google that gave the search engine access to internal data of the social media site that would allow it to index public tweets. The agreement expired in July 2011.

Yandex will be going the opposite route by tailoring its Blog Search engine to indexing public tweets. Users can search by username and hashtag, and in multiple languages ranging from Russian to Kazakh. In its press release about the partnership, Yandex acknowledged the importance of Twitter to spreading important news about and to people everywhere. Whether Google decides to place a higher importance on Twitter over its own Google+ in its search engine is yet to be seen.