From Cities to Islands, Yandex shows no sign of slowing its online ascendance. With huge implications for search marketing, our very own Russian linguist Maks, gives an overview of Yandexs most recent changes and analyses their impact for both business and customer.
- Yandex Islands
- Yandex Market
- Yandex ciphers referrals
- Closure of the Yandex blog platform
- Yandex Cities a new service targeting users on the go
Though announced over a year ago, Yandex Islands has now arrived (source.) As a blatant volley back from Google’s Knowledge Graph, this platform provides refreshing interactivity for both the user and business.
Yandex Islands allows any site owner to create their own interactive form, button or information and directly add it to a search result page. A theatre, for example, could offer its latest show tickets directly through search results for the query buy theatre tickets. In this sense, a business is able to service the customer more efficiently and in doing so, the user is provided with direct services to complete a multitude of desired tasks. Islands will also allow webmasters to provide useful information such as phone numbers, addresses or timetables. Such information will be broadcasted in real-time, ensuring that announcements, product availability and other changeable factors are accurate.
The snippets below demonstrate SERPs both with and without Islands.
What does this mean for organic search?
In principle, Islands will not impact search result positions and Yandexs algorithm will go unchanged. That said, with Yandex favouring the sites which offer the best information (source), should a site function with particularly useful Islands that lead to increased traffic and thus earn credibility, this could impact eventual rankings (source).
A second change to SERPs has been the emergence of commodity frames on the Yandex Market. Much as the name suggests, the Yandex Market provides users with products to buy directly from over 5,000 stockists. Now, Yandex Market will be playing a greater role in search, as products available in its directory may now appear directly on a results page. If a certain product directly corresponds to a search, the Market product will appear in the SERPs alongside its details and images.
What will be the effects?
In order for goods of a certain online store to show on SERPs, businesses must provide images and a competitive advertising budget to be considered. Clearly this change will encourage further traffic to the Yandex Market – suspiciously coincidental given Yandexs 1% commission. Meanwhile, organic search could suffer the consequences of less allocated space amongst commercial and paid results.
For the user, similarly to Islands, the directly provided products continue to make online purchases a more simple process for users. Businesses using the Yandex Market will also have an extra feature to showcase up to four pictures of their products which will help to present their products on paid search.
In December last year, Yandex started an experiment to encrypt query text coming from its search engine, a development which has gradually expanded. By February, the share of encrypted data reached 30% of user requests and from June onwards, it reached 100%. Since this announcement, webmasters have experimented with other methods to estimate user interests.
Though Yandex reportedly brought this in as a means to protecting user privacy, another fortunate coincidence is that this data will remain available on site visit analytics tool, Yandex Metrika as well as Yandex Webmaster, which provides information on site visibility. This is likely to drive webmasters to explore these tools in much more depth.
What will be the effects?
Though an initial setback, this could present an exciting learning curve in Russian SEO. Webmasters and SEO companies previously relying on Google Metrics will now have to check keyword data on Yandex Metrika. This will promote Yandex Webmaster services and encourage the SEO community to think about new ways of analysing traffic.
Bye-bye bloggers of Ya.ru
Due to a reported lack of interest, Yandex has closed down its own blog platform and suggested that existing users migrate to LiveJournal, owned by Rambler-Afisha-SUP (source).
What was Ya.ru?
Yandex officially announced Ya.ru in April 2007. Access was initially invitation-only, but in November of the same year it became a public platform. As expected of any blog platform, it allowed users to add text and image content (all files were stored on the services Yandex Pics and Yandex Video. Any registered Yandex user has access to this diary. Blogs could then be imported or exported, for example, to Facebook (source).
Why has it closed now?
According to statistics there were only 1,500 new comments each day and only 0.3% of blogs uploaded new content each month. According to Januarys 2014 data, Ya.ru had 3,503,130 users. This information reinforces the concern that Ya.ru was unable to compete with existing social media platforms.
It is also worth noting the efforts that Yandex has been making to have a stronger business presence (as made evident by the search engines investment in Yandex Market. Though only speculation, this commercial direction may have taken weight over maintenance of a, frankly unprofitable, blog platform.
What are the next steps for Ya.ru users?
Blog owners can either move to LiveJournal, or save information to the Yandex Disk. Ya.ru settings provide support in migration to LiveJournal and will remain an option until 1st November. Alternatively, the user can save all blog information, content and conversation threads in the Yandex Disk cloud service.
Any SEO company using the platform for link-building will also be impacted, so it is pivotal that the migration to LiveJournal is closely monitored. By tracking blog addresses and information, relationships and link-building opportunities stand to be savoured.
Yandex (capital) Cities
Yandex Cities has been released as a service for location search. The service helps users to find specific and relevant organisations or businesses for their needs. This could be a local beauty salon, a restaurant for a birthday celebration or a good bowling club. Yandex Cities can consider advanced specifications, for example, the presence of a veranda or guest parking, and shows rating and feedback details from previous visitors.
Why the new service?
Any organisation can be found through the search and each has its own card, with pictures and background information. As such it offers relevant and comprehensive information, ideal for its on-the-move users. Yandex Cities is available as an app for operating systems such as Android and iOS. This further supports the assumption that this update was motivated by the desire to target mobile users on the move.
How is it moderated?
Yandex Cities offers numerical ratings (from 0 to 10) based on previous comments and reviews. Yandex manually analyses reviews, as well as its own comment section. An automatic algorithm scans credible comment keywords (e.g. a bar may have pinnacle keywords such as barman and service). A comment will also be judged by its host site, with more credibility given to a comment from a highly trusted site. Such filtered reviews will then be highlighted and presented as snippets for user convenience. When a certain number of moderated reviews are accumulated, they will start to appear on Yandex Cities SERPs.
What is this impact?
Though fully functional services are only available for citizens in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the plan is to extend this further. The new service is inevitably a benefit to local businesses, whilst the user is also being presented with helpful information.
The business interest infers important opportunities for the SEO community in upcoming months. The influence that SEO efforts can have on the Yandex Cities ranking system is, as of yet, to be discovered.
Though we can only speculate as to Yandex’s next plan, the current pattern is clearly commercially-focused. The closure of Ya.ru only reinforces the fact that Yandex is sparing no time for friendly chat and instead is looking towards business space and ecommerce services. With tweaks to be made to current platforms, keep your dollar-stamped eyes peeled for new announcements.