Following on from part one of “How to Optimise Your Site for Yandex”, now let’s have a look at several key Yandex optimisation tips.

SEO Tips for Yandex

#1 Optimize Your Business for Local Search

Yandex is a region-specific search engine, making it perfect for local SEO (especially in CIS countries). But you can also help Yandex search bots render your site for region-specific queries with several strategies. Here’s how:

  • Place the complete address of your business on the site. Make sure to include as much information as possible, including: country, city, street, postal code, telephone number and more. Avoid adding any geographical information as images — Yandex bots crawl the data automatically to deliver it for geo-dependent search queries.
  • Include additional business addresses in other regions. If you’re concerned Yandex won’t be able to figure out when to deliver a particular, region-based search result, don’t worry. Simply list all of the available business addresses to cover every branch and Yandex Search will automatically deliver the necessary results based on the IP address.
  • Avoid hiding any region-specific content by the IP address. If some sections of your site targets a place like Odessa and a user searches from Kiev, don’t hide Odessa-related pages in the robots.txt or .htaccess files. Yandex bots will sift out and deliver Kiev-related pages automatically.
  • Include region-specific keywords in tags. Check to see if your Title, H1-H6 and other tags feature at least some geo-dependent information. This will help Yandex bots a lot. It also makes sense to place that info in your content and URLs.

#2 Avoid Manipulating User Behaviour

Yandex is very serious about user behaviour and engagement, and severely punishes websites that try to manipulate these ranking factors. For instance, Yandex can easily punish your site for unnatural comments and spam.

The greatest danger lies in the use of software and plugins that emulate user behavior, such as faking page visits, conversions and mimicking internal visits from page to page. Yandex can locate that software and downrank the site for spammy methods.

#3 Build Backlinks with Caution

Links certainly play a role in how a particular site ranks in Yandex but are more of an optional rather than a decisive factor.

Similar to Google, you’ll want to build high-quality, relevant backlinks but focus on placing them on platforms that  drive relevant traffic to your site. The more sessions you get, the higher the chance  the link’s value will beef up your website’s rankings.

Your job is to build backlinks naturally. Create content that people view as useful and trustworthy, and everybody will be linking back to your site in no time. For Yandex, backlinks simply signify your site’s credibility and authority.

#4 Purchase an Older Domain If Possible

Domain age is so influential on Yandex that building up a high ranking for a new domain is a massive challenge. According to some webmasters, Yandex has “Sandbox” that stores recently launched sites and intentionally prevents them from achieving high SERPs for one to two years.

Whether these rumours are right or wrong, you’ll want to consider using an older domain to gain a head start on your SEO strategy. If you plan to launch a new site in Yandex, purchasing an older domain will be viewed as more credible and trustworthy. Age is an influential factor, so don’t be discouraged when your newly launched site isn’t achieving the results you want.

#5 Prioritize Content Quality

Yandex prioritizes content quality and will downgrade sites for plagiarism, spam and over optimization. The bad news: Yandex isn’t as advanced as Google and has difficulty figuring out when a specific duplicate page actually provides value to the site. For instance: Yandex will punish your ecommerce site mercilessly if you forget to hide dynamic pages that are partially similar.

How do you bypass this challenge in Yandex? The answer is to update your content often while focusing on quality and relevancy to your niche audience.

#6 Pay Attention to “Commercial Relevance”

As you might have noticed, “relevancy” is one of the most influential ranking signals in Yandex.

Relevancy is especially important when talking about ecommerce. Yandex does everything to ensure its users receive the most relevant search results when looking for specific products or services. Thus, when optimizing product pages it’s important to remember the following:

  • Keep keywords clean and concise
  • Add keywords into unique product descriptions
  • Include product specifications
  • Feature customer comments and reviews
  • Place contact information and region-specific address
  • Build backlinks that drive relevant traffic

#7 URLs Can be Written in Latin or Cyrillic

Yandex understands Latin and Cyrillic characters, so you can use both when writing your URLs. Note: using only Cyrillic URLs won’t give you any special advantage as the search engine returns results for any query no matter what language it is written in.

Conclusion

Russia and the CIS are huge markets that can generate major revenue for your business. If you want to reach Russian-speaking audiences, Yandex should be your search engine of preference. And just like Google, Yandex has its own set of specific features that marketers need to be aware of.

Don’t be afraid of doing SEO work in Yandex; the major optimization principles don’t differ much from Google. When in doubt, just focus on rolling out a website with great usability, high-quality content, and an excellent user experience to automatically shoot your website to the top of any international search engine.


Sergey Grybniak

CEO at Opporty
Sergey Grybniak is CEO at Opporty.com and founder of digital marketing agency Clever-Solution.com. He is an expert digital marketer certified by Google and Bing as well. Sergey is a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal, Business.com, CodeProject, and The Huffington Post.

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