8 Reasons Why Yandex Matters for SEO

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Oct 3rd, 2023

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For businesses and digital marketers who target a Russian-speaking audience, Yandex plays a vital role in a comprehensive SEO strategy.

Why’s that, you ask? Well, Yandex is the most widely used search engine in Russia, and it has a substantial presence in Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. With 122 million internet users in Russia, it’s no wonder the search engine has become increasingly popular for international marketers and bloggers. Many have already optimized their websites for Yandex SEO, while others are following suit. In this article, you’ll find out what Yandex is, how it can boost your SEO efforts, and a few tips to help you get started.

What Is Yandex?

While Yandex may stand for “Yet ANother inDEXer,” it’s been the only search engine in Russia for years. Having 85 million monthly users, it is the most visited online resource in the country. You can say that Yandex is the Russian version of Google. It dominates the search engine space in Russia and provides several other services, including a browser, email, maps, paid ads, news, etc. What sets Yandex apart from Google, however, is the fact that it places a different emphasis on ranking factors. Yandex handles more than half of all search queries in Russian-speaking countries, so if you’re scaling your SEO efforts, take it into account.

Why Optimize for Yandex SEO?

There are tons of reasons to incorporate Yandex into your SEO strategy. Sure, this search engine may sound like a tough nut to crack, especially if you’re still learning the ins and outs of SEO, but trust me, it will be worth the effort.

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Here are eight reasons Yandex matters for SEO:

1. You Can Easily Target The Russian-Speaking Market

Perhaps the most obvious reason to optimize your website for Yandex is to target Russian natives and speakers. Time and again, Russian internet users have shown us they solely rely on Yandex for quality online searches. Dominating the local Russian market requires prioritizing Yandex, which over half of the country uses daily. It’s also worth noting that Russians aren’t the only ones who are using it. Many folks from Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, and Kazakhstan have become loyal users of the search engine as well. So, if you’re thinking of reaching those countries soon, now might be the best time to optimize your website for Yandex.

2. Yandex Focuses on Geo-Targeting

Everyone knows Russia is the largest country on earth. That’s exactly why Yandex places more importance on geo-targeting than any other search engine. It categorizes all searches as either geo-independent or geo-dependent. Geo-independent searches are those that apply to anyone regardless of where they are. Conversely, geo-dependent searches are those that concentrate on products or services that apply to a particular location. If you want to rank organically on Google and you’re based, let’s say, in Miami, you could use a company that specializes in Miami SEO services. But if you’re using Yandex, you can roll out a full geo-targeted ad campaign that will pinpoint users, for example, only in Saint Petersburg. The geo-targeting feature goes beyond ads and features in organic searches too, just like on Google. And it’s not only responding to searches like “shopping malls near me” – but it can also include generic terms such as “coffee” or “bakery” too.

3. Yandex Is All About The User Experience

Every SEO professional knows that search engines are always looking for sites that offer good user experience. Yandex is no exception. Russia’s leading search engine rewards websites that provide both high-quality content and an optimized user experience by ranking them well. These are usually sites with low bounce rates and high user engagement. Bouncing occurs when a visitor lands on a page and then leaves without further interaction. Once a search engine bot sees a website with a high bounce rate, it automatically regards it as a site that provides a poor user experience; thus decreasing its rankings.

4. Yandex Can Help You Focus On Minimizing Bounce Rate

Let’s say someone clicks on your link and quickly finds the answer they were looking for. Now that they have nothing else to do, they leave, which means they’ve technically bounced. But the result was still valuable, and odds are, they might come back again. However, Yandex does not favor sites with a high bounce rate, so you should do your best to make it as low as possible. An engaging website is super easy to navigate, loads fast, and hosts compelling content that people find valuable. If you have a massive library of content, it’s best to group relevant articles. That way, you’ll improve the navigational experience and reduce your bounce rate by leveraging user’s interest.

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5. Yandex Places Great Emphasis on Meta Tags

Meta tags may be significant to Google, but they’re even more important to Yandex. Yandex takes meta tags much more seriously. Sites with even the slightest meta tag errors can struggle to obtain high rankings. Ranking well on the Russian search engine means ensuring that you have your page titles, description tags, canonical tags, and URLs right. Focus on limiting your meta titles to around 60 characters, and make sure your description tags contain between 130 and 160 characters. To take care of your meta keywords, add a couple of target keywords per page, but avoid keyword stuffing. Don’t forget to check tags that are created automatically. If they aren’t high quality, there’s a huge chance that your rankings will drop. Applying these guidelines will no doubt help you snag top rankings on Yandex.

6. Yandex Loves Quality Content

Discussing organic SEO without bringing up content optimization is not prudent. Search engines always opt for sites with valuable content. And among all these search engines, Yandex might just be the choosiest one. Besides paying attention to websites that provide the most relevant and complete answers to queries, Yandex also prioritizes quality content with lots of references. It uses algorithms to scan for such content. Once it detects content that’s weak or produced by robots, it pushes the website down in search rankings. So, how can you stay on Yandex’s good side? Fill your website with original content that helps your audience get the information they’re looking for. Avoid copy-pasting and producing articles with the help of AI at all costs.

7. Yandex Favors Mobile-Friendly Websites

Like Google, Yandex loves sites that are optimized for mobile. Considering that over 80% of internet users use mobile devices to surf the web, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Not only is mobile optimization great for your SEO, but it can also improve user experience. A simple mobile web design means faster load time and faster load time means higher audience engagement and lower bounce rate.

8. Yandex Doesn’t Mind Older Domains

Many search engines may not look favorable at old domains, but with Yandex, it’s a different story. It sees domain age as proof of its trustworthiness. So, if your website has been around for quite some time now, you’ll do just fine. There’s also no need to worry if you have a new domain. Yandex has made it easier for newer domains to get higher rankings. You’ll just have to wait, as it will take around six months to see results.

Final Thoughts

Optimizing your website for the Russian market is hard work, but it will pay off in the long run. Building a solid Yandex SEO strategy and using a cheap dedicated server should be your best bet. Or, if you’re struggling to start the process and track your progress, considering that you’re also super busy with your online meetings and all, you might as well hire a company that specializes in SEO services. Next up, you may want to explore a guide on how to write SEO content to promote your blog.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here, and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.