Yandex (Rus. Яндекс) is a Russian international IT company, headquartered in the Netherlands that owns a search engine of the same name, a web-portal and web-services in several countries. It takes the leading positions on the hi-tech market in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Yandex is also one of the fastest-growing corporations in Russia.
The Yandex search engine is the most popular search engine in Russia, taking 60% of the total search engine traffic. The second most popular is Google at 37.9%.
As the first-string website in the CIS countries, Yandex offers its users various services based on the following platforms:
Yandex updates made it the most advanced system, so it gained popularity among users in CIS. The ranking algorithms of the Russian search engine are constantly improving since Yandex monitors core updates of competitors and, in particular, Google. Therefore, when planning a website optimization strategy in Russia, it is necessary to follow Yandex requirements to avoid penalties and achieve high rankings fast.
Yandex does not officially explain all the criteria for site ranking. The development of the efficient ranking system and providing the most relevant search results performed by the machine-learning algorithm MatrixNet. According to some sources, over 800 factors analyzed when ranking to provide users with the most relevant pages for their searches.
Main ranking factors include:
Even though the mission of both Google and Yandex is to provide users with the content that suits their needs best, they have different methods of evaluating sites.
The website ranking factors allow the search engine to evaluate site performance and the value of published content for users. SEO optimization is carried out in conditions of strict penalty filters, the inadmissibility of cheating and manipulation. The main rule of ranking in Yandex invariably remains: “Websites are designed for people first”. However, the site primarily is evaluated by machines. Therefore, when optimizing a resource, one should consider the satisfying user demands and the secrets of dealing with search bots.
Google as well, as Yandex is competing for users in different ways. These giants are focused on creating the best environment for users and their convenience. But despite their common goal, they still differ in how they rank sites. Sometimes the difference is minor: the same metric has almost the same effect on ranking. But in some respects, Google and Yandex differ significantly. That is why they can provide different SERP for the same search terms. To learn more about the latest Google algorithm updates, read our blog.
Some differences between Google and Yandex SEO is evident even when comparing the SERP appearance.
In terms of local SEO, Yandex and Google are significantly different. For sites with a regional domain (.ru, .ua, .kz, etc.), Google automatically assigns a priority country. The user will not be able to change this parameter later. If the domain zone is neutral (e.g., .info, .com, .org ), you can configure regional binding in GSC. But also only at the country level. You can provide geo SEO by completing Google my Business profile or inserting geo-targeted keywords into the page content.
When promoting the site on Google in several regions, the best strategy is to create sub-directories for each city. Note that these directories must contain unique content.
Yandex can also define the site regionality by domain zone and content. But unlike Google, it determines the localization of the site at the city level. Moreover, Yandex allows changing the regional binding (if it was determined incorrectly). You can change it via ‘Webmaster’ by selecting the city or country you want to rank. As an option, you can create a company profile in Yandex.Directory.
If you want the site to rank high across multiple regions, the best solution is to create additional landing pages on subdomains. This strategy is most effective.
Content quality is becoming a more and more important factor for SEO. Both Yandex and Google agreed that the purpose of the text is a visitors reference only. Previously, for high rankings, it was enough just inserting a large number of keywords onto one page. Now, this does not work. You even risk being penalized for it.
IA algorithms can find relevant content to user searches, even if no 100% matches found.
You can rank high in Yandex even with short articles. At the same time, Google prefers long reads but allows for a higher keyword density. However, maintain a safe frequency of 3-3.5% so as not to get minorized. That applies to both Google and Yandex.
Also, search engines have different attitudes towards updating content on a site. If Google assesses the regular changes positively, then Yandex takes this into account only indirectly as an improvement in behavioural metrics.
The Yandex team announced that commercial factors affect website rankings. It includes various metrics that simplify the interaction of visitors with the site: information about the company, delivery and payment methods, contact information, easy navigation, user-friendly design, a wide range of products. While Google hasn’t made any claims about this, it also takes some of them into account when ranking.
Either way, content is by far the most valuable SEO tool. Both Google and Yandex will appreciate unique and well-written texts.
There are some differences in off-page SEO as well.
For Google, backlinks are the most valuable ranking factors that prove a resource’s authority and credibility. SEO is impossible without link building efforts. Google takes into account both the number of referred sites and their ranking.
While Yandex attaches less importance to backlinks, they also matter. Its algorithms carefully check not only the quality but also the niche of the referring sites. Therefore, you need to be careful and consider these requirements when improving your backlink profile.
So, if you want to optimize your site for both search engines, you should carefully choose the domains that refer to your site, working on both backlinks quantity and their value.
Google SEO differs from Yandex also in a technical aspect. But the difference is not as noticeable and significant as it might seem at first glance.
Due to the volume of mobile traffic, Google changed its approach to ranking and launched Mobile-First Indexing. According to this algorithm, search robots analyze first the site content when viewed from a smartphone and prefer fully adapted resources. In addition, Google tracks this indicator very precisely. To learn more about this topic, read our post on Google algorithm update.
Yandex is not so strict with slow sites that receive most of the traffic volumes from desktop devices. But this does not mean that improving the site performance is not affect the site rankings as it changes the metrics of user behaviour on the site.
Try to use every opportunity for technical improvement of the site and its SEO. This approach will have a positive effect on the site’s rankings in both search engines.
Yandex is much stricter in penalties than Google. But that doesn’t mean that everything you do for Google SEO can go unpunished. To avoid the unpleasant consequences of incorrect actions when optimizing your site, you need to follow all the news and official announcements about new algorithms and core updates and, if in doubt, seek advice from professional SEO specialists with proven results.
It would seem that Google and Yandex have the same goal – to provide the most convenient search tool for users. But these companies consider this goal achieved in different ways. As a result, the same metrics are ranked differently in every search engine.
And if someone does not take these nuances into account, he has a great chance not only not to get high rankings but also to lose his current positions.
If you are interested in expanding your reach on Yandex and in Russia, check out our SEO Consulting services page. Do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about how we could help you achieve your goals. Fill out a contact form to get in touch with our Russian native expert SEO team!