What does this Russian national champion do differently from the world leader Google, and why is the whole Internet looking at the developments coming out of Moscow?
Yandex provides online advertising in the Russian market, holding 65% of the market share for search engines. It is increasingly branching out into other CIS countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan—as well as Turkey. However, even if this is not your target market, the innovations and technological developments coming out of Yandex have the potential to affect other search engines globally.
First, let’s look at some of the major similarities and difference between Google and Yandex. Both search engines display a mixture of paid and organic search results. For organic results, both search engines incorporate news, pictures, and videos into their results pages.
Different Rankings, Different Language Support
After closer inspection, however, the differences between the two start to become more apparent. One of the major ones is found in the search results/rankings themselves. This is partially to do with differing search algorithms used by each company—but also manifests thanks to Yandex’s unique ability to better interpret the intricacies of the Russian language. In this way, Yandex supports Cyrillic characters in all areas of a website—including the URL and metadata—whereas Google merely translates these words into Latin characters automatically.
Webmaster Tools, Text Ads, Web Analytics—Same Features with Different Equipment
Registration and administration of Yandex in similar to that of Google’s Webmaster Tools, and is called Yandex.Webmaster. An account must be created as well as the site ownership verified—usually by placing a verification tag or code into the HTML source code. This process is more or less the same for both search engines. In general, the functionality of Yandex.Webmaster is slightly lower than that of Google, but there are some features in particular which are unique to Yandex. One example is the ability to specify in terms of capitalization how a particular domain name will be displayed—something that can be incredibly useful for brands with distinct upper and lower case formatting. It is also possible to add up to 500 keywords directly into Yandex.Webmaster, which are subsequently displayed with rankings, clicks, and impressions.
In addition, Yandex offers Yandex.Catalog, which serves as a web directory. Websites can participate free of charge by creating an account and going through a verification process—resulting in a “Trusted” seal being marked in search results pages and often times a better ranking.
Another similarity between Yandex and Google are their paid text ad offerings on search engine results pages. Google calls its program AdWords, whereas Yandex calls in Yandex.Direkt. Yandex has recently and emphatically optimized and updated its platform to better match that of Google, both in terms of usability from the backend and display characteristics for consumers. These include the recognition of synonyms as well as corralling ads into groups. Additionally, Yandex has a few other features independent of Google which offer increased convenience and ease of use. For instance, budget consumption and other campaign events can be sent free of charge by email or SMS to account managers.
Analytics both have similar functionality, but Yandex.Metrika includes some bonus ones. The Yandex system is able to provide data in near-real time, in addition to providing demographic information on site visitors which have enabled this feature.
Local Player with International Influence—Why the World Looks Eagerly to Moscow
Here we will look at Yandex’s greater influence on the worldwide search engine landscape. First of all, Yandex is the fourth largest search engine used globally, ranking ahead of Bing. It has a dedicated Research and Development Department that is fixated on its motto, “We respect Google, but we are better.” Statements like this enable Yandex to demand and receive attention and respect from other global search engine players.
In 2013, Yandex started a pilot program from commercial websites and users in the Moscow area. The search company completely changed its algorithm to include only on-site parameters and user behavior to serve up search rankings—completely disregarding backlinks as a signal of importance. It is likely that after the program finishes, this method will be applied to other regions and website types.
This could signal a radical shift in search technology moving forward, and offers a direct yet viable alternative to Google’s emphasis on backlinks and Page Rank authority.
Without Yandex, Don’t Bother with Online Marketing in Russia
Despite fluctuating tensions between Europe and Russia, our neighbor to the East is a growing market that is very interesting and relevant, especially for German companies. Online marketing is a way to effectively reach target groups there, without having to invest too much into personnel, operations, and other overhead expenses.
However, being successful in the Russian market requires a significant degree of experience and knowledge about Russia, its people, and language. Google might have a “cool” factor with younger generations, but in order to develop meaningful leads and to receive the best semantic search results—Yandex is the search engine needed.
Are you interested in online marketing in Russia or other CIS countries? Please get in touch with Syuzanna Sosnowskaya by phone at +49 621 17893 154 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to discuss different ways in which to approach the Russian market through online marketing.