Yet Another Index? Making an Impact in Russa – International Search Summit 2011 #SMXISS

Yet Another Index? Making an Impact in Russa – International Search Summit 2011 #SMXISS

18th May 2011

Next up is Preston Carey, Business Development Director at Yandex, giving us an insight into the Russian search engine. Firstly an introduction and some context around the Russian market.

Markets in the developed countries are not really growing very much anymore, the two places that are booming are Russia and Asia. Russia is the seventh largest market in terms on internet users, sitting just behind Germany. Russia only has 43% internet penetration at the moment but it is growing hugely year-on-year so could easily be taking over Germany within the next 18 months.

Russia is different – it is a fairly isolated place whether that is socially, demographically or culturally and this needs to be taken into account. Its top three sites are barely used outside of the country.

In terms of search engines, Yandex has around 65% share of the market with Google following on around 22%.  In November 2009, Yandex released a major new algorithm which had a huge impact on their market share. It has also made their technology language-agnostic as it is not entire MLR based.

The top social sites in Russia are very Russia-exclusive, almost all friends are within the same country therefore does not need to cross boundaires. The biggest site is

The Russian digital advertising market is growing rapidly – total percentage of marketing spend on digital has grown from 1% to 11/12% over the last 5 or 6 years alone.

Yandex owns 80% of the text ad revenue within Russia, with Google owning about 15-20%.

To win in certain markets, locak knowledge is key. This is a long-term competitive edge.

Yandex – The Facts

Russia’s number one search engine

  • 65% market share in search in Russia
  • OVer 54 m users per month
  • Over 20 years of development


  • Local market dominance
  • Breadth and reach for all demographics
  • Machine learning based organic engine

2011 Initiatives

  • Local search/location based services
  • Global expansion

What is Yandex?

Not just a search engine, more of a portal – also a news aggregator, blog search, photo sharing, mail provider

Yandex’s has a list of owned and operated websites, on which it can place its text ads.

Like Google, Yandex also has an AdSense style network and partner sites.

Top ten industries on Yandex:

  • Automotive
  • Banking & Finance
  • Business Services
  • Construction
  • Consumer SHopping
  • Housing and Rentals
  • Manufacturing
  • Personal Health
  • Real Estate
  • Tourism

Only 26% of the internet audience for Yandex are in the two biggest cities in Russia – Moscow and St Petersburg. Geo-targeting and understanding who you are trying to reach is crucial to your campaign.

SEO for Yandex

The organic engine was rewritten and launched as MatrixNet in Nov 2009 therefore most of the old advice doesn’t apply anymore.

  • Machine learning based, ‘archetypal’ sites chose as targetts by ‘assessors’
  • Makes advising on SEO very hard, even Yandex doesn’t know what the weights are

There is no formal customer support team for SEOs:

  • There is a good set of webmaster tools (available in English in Q3 2011)
  • General written guidelines for how to get included now available at Yandex
  • There is also a write-up by Webcertain that summarises how the engine works

So how do you get started in Russia on Yandex?

  • Auction based system that is very simple but with local differences and nuances, specifically government restrictions and rules
  • Geographic targeting is important but you can try without it
  • Russian language is very different, localisation and translation from English is difficult and is unlikely to work
  • Conversion can be different, make sure you are measuring the right things

Getting on Yandex

Contact the International Business Development team, they will provide:

  • Free translation, training and intial setup
  • Local optimisation and campaign feedback
  • English speaking Account Manager in Moscow
  • Web based reporting
  • Take payment in US dollars


Written By
Originally from the UK via France and Malaysia, Annabel Hodges is a digital marketer with long experience in the industry now residing in Sydney. She heads up the Digital Marketing at Next Commerce, working across an array of products, channels and brands.
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