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SEO 101

What Is Yandex and Why Should You Care?

Should you optimise your content to rank in Yandex?
Holly Stanley
Freelance Content Writer for B2B, SaaS, and Digital Marketing Brands
What Is Yandex and Why Should You Care?
March 23, 2023
October 13, 2020

What Is Yandex and Why Should You Care About Your Site Ranking There? 

What is Yandex? This is the top question asked by people who come into contact with this search engine for the very first time.

These days, Google is synonymous with search engines. When you need to find out some information it’s likely you go straight to Google for the answer.

You may use other search engines like Bing and Yahoo!, but given Google’s superior analytical tools, webmaster tools and additional features like Google Docs, it’s pretty hard to bypass the search engine completely. 

But what if you’re missing out on accessing a target audience that simply doesn’t use Google that much? You could be neglecting tons of organic traffic just because you’re not implementing SEO strategies that will help you out on other search engines. 

Today we’ll be looking at what Yandex search engine is, why it’s important and why you should care about your site ranking there.

What Is Yandex?

What is Yandex - Russian search engine

Yandex is a Russian tech company known for creating its Yandex search engine. Yandex is the second largest search engine in Russia.

According to Statcounter, Yandex had a 39.6% market share in Russia compared to Google’s 57.9% in July 2020. 

Yandex is the biggest technology company in Russia and offers many different types of services and products.

They are known for owning the biggest Russian search engine, but they are also involved in many other things related to technology and the internet.

Yandex google rank stats - What is Yandex - Russian search engine

Source: StatCounter

Although Yandex was originally just available in Russia, there’s now a global English version at 

As a tech company Yandex is also known for: 

  • App analytics
  • Email services via Yandex.Mail
  • Online advertising
  • Self-driving cars
  • A voice assistant called Alice
  • Ride hailing via Yandex.Taxi (in collaboration with Uber)
  • Data management
  • Maps via Yandex.Maps
  • A web browser called Yandex Browser
  • Music streaming
  • Artificial intelligence
  • And many more.

How Does Yandex Fit Into The Search Engine Picture? 

What Is Yandex - Russian search engine

Yandex works like any other search engine. There’s a search bar where the user simply plugs in their search query, hits enter and a bunch of results pop up. 

A list of related web pages will appear along with some images and videos depending on the search term. 

While it works like most other mainstream search engines, there are some key differences that distinguish Yandex from other competitors. 

How Is Yandex Different From Google? 

Yandex Google - What is Yandex - Russian search engine

Source: Russian Search Marketing

While both Yandex and Google function as search engines, there are some key features that differentiate the two from one another.  

  • Yandex emphasises local SEO and regionality more than Google. Yandex runs geo-dependent searches that only show websites from a specific region. This means people in different locations will be shown varying results for the same search term. While it’s easier to rank local businesses, attempting to rank a site nationally would likely be a bigger challenge. 
  • User behaviour such as dwell time is a key ranking factor for Yandex. Although Google also takes this into account, this is a critical factor for ranking well on Yandex. To perform well in Yandex rankings, pages need to optimise for search intent. Creating highly engaging and relevant content is also imperative for increasing dwell times.

  • Backlinks are not such a strong ranking feature on Yandex when compared to Google. While link building is still important, it’s more about passing relevant organic traffic to your site as opposed to proving your site’s authority or trustworthiness. 
  • Changes to rankings often take longer to appear. Generally, sites are crawled at a slower rate than Google. You’ll need a little more patience when it comes to seeing ranking improvements and general progress. 
  • Fresh-on page content is more important to Yandex. Adding relevant comprehensive content is an essential tactic on Yandex. 
  • Domain age and creation date play a more significant role in ranking well on Yandex. Often your domain needs to be older with lots of examples of recent valuable content for it to rank well. 
  • Yandex has fewer Webmaster tools than Google. 

How Did Yandex Become Popular In Russia? 

Yandex’s popularity can be understood due to the fact that it’s specifically designed for the Russian language. With a different alphabet, Russian is very different from English.

Yandex has the ability to interpret the language and provide relevant search results in a way that Google can’t. 

Yandex grew in popularity when Russian Android phones decided to no longer use Google as a default search engine in 2017. There’s a choice to set up Yandex as the default search engine and many users choose to do this. 

Why Should You Optimise For Yandex?

Yandex Rank - What is Yandex - Russian search engine

While achieving a solid Google SEO strategy always has to be the priority, optimising your web pages for Yandex will increase your organic traffic from particular sources. 

Although you may not have heard of Yandex previously, it’s actually currently the fifth most popular search engine in the world.

Even if it doesn’t form the majority of your SEO strategy - Google always should - it’s still a good idea to consider Yandex and other search engines. 

Here are some of the most compelling reasons why you should optimise for Yandex: 

1. Target a Russian Market 

If you need to target a Russian market, optimising your web pages for Yandex will help you access your target audience. Ranking well on Yandex will give your product or service a lot more visibility within Russia. 

2. Yandex Is Popular in Other Regions Too 

While Yandex is predominantly used in Russia, it’s also a popular search engine in other countries like Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Ukraine.

Not only will you be able to target Russia but you’ll be able to optimise you web pages to reach users in other countries too.

Yandex continues to grow in popularity in nations outside of Russia. 

3. Yandex Now Comes As An English .com Version of the Site

Continuing to grow out from its home country Russia, Yandex created a .com site for an English speaking audience. 

The increasing popularity of Yandex and continual growth means you should consider implementing some targeted SEO tactics so your web pages begin to rank. 

Optimising for Yandex as opposed to Google requires a different thought process and the application of different SEO strategies. 

How Do You Optimise Content For Yandex?

What is Yandex - Russian search engine

Source:  Search Engine Journal

While optimising for Yandex differs from Google, some of the processes overlap and will benefit your site’s rankings across other search engines too. 

1. Think About Location 

Yandex places much more importance on location than other search engines. They sort searches into two different categories.

Geo-dependent searches concentrate on products or services that are localised.

Geo-independent searches provide search results that could be useful to anyone, no matter the location. 

2. Content Is King

Although content is king on pretty much every search engine, including Google, Yandex takes the importance of content to the next level. 

Like other search engines, Yandex rewards content that provides the most relevant and comprehensive answers to search queries. 

The best way to leverage this in your favour is to consistently create original, valuable content that readers will find useful.

Always put humans first and search engines second - this will help you create relevant content that will ultimately rank better. 

Remember that Yandex is particularly tough on duplicate content and keyword stuffing. Algorithms are also in place to detect spammy content or text that’s been obviously copied and pasted from elsewhere. 

While Google also issues penalties for these offences, it seems more difficult to recover from these offences on Yandex than other search engines. 

3. Make Meta Data a Priority 

While Google takes meta data into account, Yandex takes it more seriously. Ranking well on the search engine means ensuring your meta tags, page titles, URLs, canonical tags and description tags are exactly right. 

These finer details are key to ranking well on the search engine.

Make sure each piece is relevant and accurate. Equally, there shouldn’t be any duplicate information that Yandex could then penalise.

4. Optimise Your Site For Mobile

Just like Google, Yandex realizes the growing popularity of mobile search. For that reason, web pages must be optimised for a seamless mobile experience. 

Part of this means ensuring that page load times are fast and web pages are formatted in a way that will easily translate to a smartphone screen. 

5. Ensure High-Quality User Experience

Perhaps the most critical Yandex ranking factor is user-experience and how long visitors remain on your site. 

Creating intuitively designed web pages, clear branding and engaging useful content are the top ways for boosting user experience on your site. 

If your web pages fall short in any one of these categories, your visitors are more likely to jump back to the SERPs to look for another web page.

Poor user experience is directly connected to a high bounce rate which does nothing for ranking well in search engine results. 

Improving your user experience will positively impact your rankings and boost your web page in both Yandex and other search engine results. 

The Bottom Line on Yandex

So the question "What is Yandex?" has been answered in this article. While Yandex is a very different type of search engine to Google, optimising for it is not that different from any other search engine.

Although there are several factors that Yandex emphasises more than others, placing importance on these will actually help you rank well on other search engines too. 

As with ranking well on Google, it’s clear that relevant useful content along with high-quality user-experience are key factors.

Implementing these strategies across your site will ensure your site performs well across multiple search engines.

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