International Search: Optimising your website for Yandex
If you’re building a website for an international audience it’s key you think about international search engines. Are you going to need to optimise your site for Baidu? Maybe for Naver? What about Yandex? So I’m guessing you’ve read my ‘how to optimise my site in Baidu’ article and you’re thinking ‘OK, that’s great. But surely there’s more search engines right?!’ and there are! Many many more, and today we’re going to be focussing on Yandex.
Yandex is a search engine that serves Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey and Kazakhstan and holds approximately 59% of the market share in desktop and 44% in mobile, and it’s only growing. It provides email, news, maps and even its own browser. Not only that, it’s driving technology forward, as it’s one of the first search engines who have developed a self-driving car!
Having said that, unlike Baidu in China, which is used by a diverse range of people, Yandex is more of a ‘traditional’ search engine and is more likely to be used by the older generation, with the younger generation sticking to Google. But this could be changing very soon: in a bid to ban messaging app ‘Telegram’ Russia have blocked several Google services also, so who knows what the effect may be?! That said let's take a look at Yandex in more detail.
Unlike Baidu, Yandex doesn’t have a specific preference for your domain or your hosting but it does say the following:
- Keep your domain name short, easy to remember and easy to spell. There’s nothing worse than a user forgetting your domain name!
- It’s happy for it to be hosted anywhere as long as the hosting provider provides good access speed and the least amount of downtime.
Yandex's mission is to find the answer to any question a user might have. And this answer should not only be relevant, but also easy to view and work with. So, like with every search engine, content is a pretty big deal and there’s certain things to look out for:
- Yandex is super strict on duplicate content and you will get penalised for it, so make sure all of your content is unique.
- It’s also the same for keyword stuffing or “text over-optimisation” - their algorithm determines the usefulness for the user and you will see your ranking slip if it thinks you are trying to trick the search engine.
- That said, your text should still include your keywords and phrases, but it should be a more organic and natural use.
- Yandex likes internal linking, so focus on using text to link internally to other parts of your site rather than something like ‘read more’ or a URL link. This is not only preferred by the search engine but also by users; they want to know what they are clicking on.
- Paid links on the other hand is a big ‘no no’. Yandex does not favour this at all and prefers you build up organic links to your site from good sources. All it wants is “useful links” to your site, so they advise you keep an eye on this in your Webmaster Kit.
- It’s known to be picky on grammar and suggests you focus on one keyword per page to optimise your content.
Just like Baidu, in this aspect Yandex is very similar to Google but with a few quirks:
- In general it indexes less frequently than other search engines and is estimated it crawls once a month.
- If possible, avoid using redirects.There should only be a 301 redirect implemented for technical reasons and not for anything else. Remember it’s a slow crawler so keeping these to a minimum is the best option.
- Meta descriptions should be several words and well-written, with the most important information at the beginning. It should also describe that exact page, not the whole site, and avoid duplicates at all costs!
- <meta name="Keywords> is still recognised by Yandex to determine page relevance so make sure keywords are within this meta tag in your markup.
- Header tags and titles tags are also super important, so make sure these are present on every page.
- Robots as a meta tag is also recognised by Yandex, but you can also specify content only for Yandex to view or to ignore by using <meta name="yandex">.
- Snippets are still used by Yandex, as with Google, and the information displayed can be from the page, meta info, OpenGraph and Schema tags. It can also use details from yandex.market - which is a platform for selling and buying (much like eBay!)
- Just like Google My Business, Yandex also has it’s own Business platform: yandex.Directory where you can add extra information about your business to display in the SERPs.It also has it’s own Webmaster tools - yandex.Webmasters - which you have to submit your site to to get it listed.
- Geo targeting is used in Yandex to display personalised results to their users and, unless specified, it will try to guess the location based on your hosting IP and contact information on site. You can specify your targeted location in yandex.Directory or also in yandex.Webmasters. It also suggests if you have lots of regions on your website, such as offices in Australia and the UK, it would prefer you use sub-domains, rather than different domain names i.e. au.liquidlight.co.uk rather than liquidlight.au.
- If a page doesn’t generate traffic it will be removed from the search engine.
So here’s a quick round-up for you on how to optimise your site for Yandex. Just like Google, it’s constantly updating it’s algorithms but in general the practice is relatively similar so it’s a good place to start.
If you’ve not read our how to optimise your site for Baidu article take a look, and keep an eye out for more articles on how to optimise your site for international search.