Russia is the fastest growing Internet market in Europe. With only 51% of its population using the internet in 2012, Russia has the largest internet population in Europe, and 6th largest in the world. By 2014 it is predicted there will be 80 million users in Russia.

Russian Marketing

As you would expect, social media usage is also increasing, with Twitter currently attracting 1.7 million Russian users, compared to 1 million in 2011. Facebook is continually growing and currently estimated at 18% of all RuNet users, compared to just 5% in 2010. Google+ is also on the rise, with the number of users reaching 1.4million.

With these figures at hand, it’s difficult not to see a huge opportunity in the Russian digital market.

Along with China, Russia is one of the few countries whose Internet market isn’t dominated by Google. It is, in fact, Yandex who leads the Russian Internet market with a 60% share (Google holding a 26% share), and unbeknown to many, the Yandex search engine has been ahead of the game in many key parts of its services. See graph below:

Yandex SEO

With the Russian market opening many doors for the digitally minded, it is therefore important to ensure we know how to compete in this market. Working in SEO myself, this is an area I have looked at in detail. Listed below are just a few of my findings for optimising in Yandex:

A debate recently arose in the 4Ps office when a client was looking to launch a new website in Russia. This debate centred around the domain name; Latin or Cyrillic script? In theory, a Cyrillic script would make more sense, as the native script has more search volume and is always going to hold more relevance and therefore rank higher in the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). However, given that the Cyrillic IDN (International Domain Name) is still a relatively new concept in Russia and very few websites have actually harnessed this, users are said to regard it with mistrust so in actual fact, CTRs (Click-Through-Rates) are likely to be lower than those of a Latin script.

A big difference between the two giants, Google and Yandex, is that Yandex have actually been known to promote paid links. Moving forward from this, updates last year meant the quality of a link has become increasingly important to the ranking algorithm. So, whilst buying links is still openly allowed, Yandex have announced that quality, relation to your site and the natural feel of a link are all important factors to consider, as of 2012.  As with Google, Yandex will penalise a site with poor-quality paid links.

Another difference seems to be meta keywords, which Google claims it doesn’t consider as a ranking signal. Yandex Webmaster states “<meta name=”Keywords” content=”…”/> — may be taken into account when the robot determines if a page matches a search query”

These points aside, the way in which all search algorithms determine a website’s relevance to a particular keyword feature many of the same rules; high quality, unique content, localised off-site strategies (linkbuilding) and social signals are all highly influential ranking signals across the two search engines.

Sources: Yandex, (Yandex and Adobe event,19th July 2012) and Multilingual Search

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how search engines and international marketing are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user behaviour and brand needs, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data and search across all inbound channels. What could an international performance marketing agency like us do for your brand?