15 September 2014 | Team Tamar

4 SEO differences between Google and Yandex

With a market share estimated over 60%, Yandex is Russia’s largest search engine, one of few nations where Google is yet to establish overwhelming dominance. Also very popular in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Yandex is the 4th biggest search engine in the world.

Obviously there are numerous divergences between Yandex and Google, both in terms of the weight of algorithmic factors and in how they are used for search. Here are 4 differences you should take into account for your SEO..

Yandex search engine

Yandex logo

Linguistic focus

One difference between Yandex and Google is that Yandex is language targeted. Whereas Google prides itself in its international popularity and ability to display relevant search results anywhere in the world, Yandex was specifically created for the Russian market.

Russian is a complex language, in which some words can have up to 20 endings. Although in recent years Google has improved its services for Russia (and now holds over 20% market share), Yandex still has a far greater understanding of Russian and its syntax.

It is therefore able to filter results according to the query types, as well as provide better results locally (which is important, since there are 15 countries using the Cyrillic alphabet, and around 80 regions in Russia alone).

Yandex is ruthless on links

In recent years, Google algorithm updates like Penguin have largely focused on tackling black-hat SEO techniques, particularly link farming. This emphasis on optimising links is natural, as backlink strength remains very central to Google rankings.

However, while high quality links remain a major indicator of authority in Google, they are no longer taken into consideration for commercial search queries in Yandex, as announced by Alexander Sadovskiy (Yandex’s very own Matt Cutts) earlier this year.

Of course, this is a big game changer for SEO as your strategy for Yandex should largely be based on-site, with focus on content and technical optimisation.

Index power

Another difference between Yandex and Google is the power of its indexation system. For instance, Yandex’s index is slower at crawling new content compared to Google. This means it can take much longer for new pages to display in search results.

Hence, you should be aware that the benefit of your content strategy may take longer to materialise on Yandex. In addition, Yandex’s index is far smaller than Google.

It is estimated that Yandex has just short of 2 billion pages on its index, a relatively modest figure when compared to Google’s 40 billion. In that sense, it’s fair to argue that Google’s index is more advanced.

Yandex search box

Yandex search box

Keyword density & content

In Google’s algorithm, backlink strength and relevance is an important ranking factor. In addition, technical health factors (onsite errors, site speed, etc) and domain trust and authority are also key ways of measuring authority. By contrast, Yandex mainly focuses on keyword density and content uniqueness to determine rankings.

While Google is also tough on duplicate content issues and sees on-page optimisation as important, the increasing emphasis on understanding long-tail queries and gradual move towards vocal search means we can expect the importance of individual terms to continue to decline in the future.

To conclude..

There are many differences between Google and Yandex, which is why you should be flexible in your SEO strategy depending on which search engine you target.

Of course there are also lots of similarities between the two. For instance both offer a range of site management tools, including a Webmaster and Analytics tool. From a technical perspective, both engines regard URL and title text content as important ranking factors.

Ultimately, both Yandex and Google want to offer the most relevant search results possible to individual users, gain a greater understanding of complex queries and nullify the impact of spammers on search results.

Team Tamar