If Russia is your target market, you need to get found on Yandex. Yandex is the most popular Russian Internet property, covering 85.6% of Russia’s Internet audience. Google’s audience coverage in Russia is 71% (as of March 2015).
In this article we will show you how to optimize your website for Yandex.
Yandex SEO Tools
Yandex provides the following SEO tools:
- Webmaster Tools: Yandex.Webmaster is similar to the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and provides many useful reports and functionalities about the indexing of your website.
- Keyword Tool: The Yandex keyword tool is called “Keyword statistics”. It will help you to find the relevant search queries for Yandex.
SEO for Yandex
Like for the other major search engines, content quality is one of the most important ranking factors for Yandex. Yandex punishes pages with low-quality content and does not index pages with thin content.
In March 2014, Yandex removed backlinks completely from the ranking algorithm and reintegrated them a year later. Since then backlinks can, depending on their quality, either benefit or harm your ranking positions. The underlying algorithm is called “Minusinsk” (similar to the Google Penguin algorithm).
The Thematic Index Citation (TIC) score defines a website’s relevance on a scale of 0-10’000, based on the quantity and quality of the backlinks (similar to the Google Page Rank). You can check your TIC score with the plugin “Yandex Elements”.
The Yandex crawler visits static pages only a few times per month and blog posts several times per day. As a result it can take some time until your new content gets indexed. You can support the indexing process by submitting new content in Yandex.Webmaster and creating an XML sitemap. Be aware that there are indexing limitations for some content types, like for example Flash.
The relevant on-page factors for Yandex are similar as for Google and Bing. However, you should keep the following characteristics of Yandex in mind:
- URLs: Yandex understands both Cyrillic and Latin characters. Russian users, however, tend to prefer Cyrillic URLs.
- Title Tags: Title tags for Yandex can be slightly longer than for Google. Stick to a maximum of 60 characters to be on the safe side.
- Meta Descriptions: Like for Google, the meta descriptions should consist of 150-160 characters. Yandex is more likely to neglect the defined meta descriptions and to show different text from the page instead.
- Meta Keywords: Whereas meta keywords are not relevant for Google at all, they are still valuable for Yandex. Add 4-5 meta keywords per page.
- Canonical Tag: The canonical tag follows the same principle like in Google. However, there are two important differences for Yandex:
- Canonical tags only work within the same domain and not across domains und subdomains.
- Self-referential canonical tags cause indexing problems and should be avoided.
- Domain age: In Yandex, the age of a domain is an important ranking factor. As a result you need to be patient until you can find a new website in the organic search. You can use Yandex.Direct to be visible immediately.