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Russia’s government last month announced possible plans to launch a national search engine, their aim being to have tighter control over filtration, and to ensure the ‘safe access of information’.

The venture would set them back around $100m (around £65m), and it would be a long and lengthy process to overtake the market leader Yandex, who currently holds 62.8% of the market share in Russia.

Despite the plans being questionable, the announcement does bring to attention certain aspects of the Russian search market.

Yandex is the world’s fastest growing search engine, with a massive 80% growth between December 2009 and 2010. Its popularity in Russia is mostly down to its in-depth and thorough knowledge of the ‘complexities and nuances of the Russian language’. 

Yandex was built and developed for the Russian language, and understands it as well as Google understands English, which is undoubtedly why it’s Russia’s search engine of choice.

So, what does this mean for UK businesses wanting to improve their SEO in Russia?

  • As with all multilingual SEO, simply translating a site from English to Russian will not suffice. Research needs to be carried out into the intricacies of Russian search behaviours, such as popular key words and phrases. Oban found that Russian searchers often use plural phrases when searching i.e. ‘search engines’ rather than ‘search engine’. 
  • Backlinking is important when it comes to search engine optimisation in Russia. It’s best to follow the same rules as when linking for Google - select quality and industry related links, and essentially with Russian-based sites. Be aware of spammy Russian link directories.
  • Yandex, like other ‘local’ search engines such as China’s Baidu, prefers sites hosted in Russia, with a Russian domain name i.e. .ru. Russia’s most popular top level domain name can now be written in Cyrillic (‘.ru’ becomes ‘.рф’, which stands for ‘Rossiyskaya Federatsiya’ – Russian Federation).

    Yandex hasn’t yet made it clear whether they are planning to hold preference to Cyrillic domain names, but if they do, it will have a huge effect on Russian SEO.

  • The use of Twitter and Facebook in Russia is growing, but the most popular social networks are local Odnoklassniki.ru and Vkontakte.ru. According to ComScore, Russia has the most engaged social networking audience in the world, and this is something to bear in mind when targeting a Russian market.


Russia holds a promising online market. By looking at the trends of local search, the complexities of the Russian language and by adhering to the principles of Yandex, UK businesses can improve their search rankings, and reap the rewards of what Russia has to offer.

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Published 21 April, 2010 by Greig Holbrook

Greig Holbrook is director of Oban Multilingual and a contributor to Econsultancy.

6 more posts from this author

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SEO Marketing

Experience does count for something and shows here. This is great work, written from ground level by someone that has been there and actually done that. <a href="http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com/" title="Search Engine Optimization Marketing">SEO Marketing </a>

over 6 years ago

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Robin Gurney

Great article, covers some very important aspects of Russian SEO. We are also doing Russian SEO and SEM at Altex and we think that it is not just a UK problem to enter the Russian market, it is everyone's problem who wishes to do so. It's also worth noting that Russian speakers are everywhere- there are quite a few in the UK. Russian is widely spoken all over the world and is one of the working languages of the United Nations, which leaves a lot of potential to market in this language but we believe that localisation only isn't enough for a website in order to enter RuNet. You need to start thinking like a Russian. Since Russians (and Russian speakers outside Russia) often have a different mindset their buying cycle is often different from other nationalities. It is also clear that Russians respond more to emotive and visual messaging. Yandex remains the best Russian speaking search engine and when it comes to analytics it offers much more accurate results over Google Analytics. The analytical tool is called Yandex.Metrika (Yandex.Metrics) http://metrika.yandex.ru/ . At the moment it is a beta version but it is growing as fast as Yandex itself. If you would like to know more then please contact my Russian colleague Marina Shutova marina@altex.ee

over 6 years ago

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Verona

Hey! Nice article, but with some really misleading tips! I've been working with Yandex for 2 years now (only SEO, no PPC though) and "following the same rules as when linking for Google" does not work. First of all, Yandex has its own PR called TIC (thematic index of citation), which has no correlation with Google's PR whatsoever. So, if you want to rank in Yandex, you need to get links from old sites with good TIC. Relevancy does not matter that much. Authority and age do. Hosting does not affect rankings that much either. My client site was hosted in Finland and my biggest competitor - in Hungary, yet we ranked higher than many Russian-based sites. Finally, Yandex does not give much weight to keywords in URLs. One will never rank for a keyword just because of having a type-in domain (while in Google this is rahter likely), same goes for page URLs. We tryed to use both Cyrillic and Latin page urls and there was no impact on rankings whatsoever. There is a lot of speculation going around Cyrillic domains, but I really don't believe it will be a revolution.. I actually asked some Yandex people at Optimization.ru conference in Moscow about their opinion regarding domain names in Cyrillic, but they did not have clear answers.. Seemed like they have not figured out themselves yet..=)

over 6 years ago

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David Wrixon

Well, you have show your ignorance. Dot RU will not become .рф . Dot RU will remain exclusive Latin and therefore alien to most users whilst .рф will be exclusively Cyrillic, therefore be essentially accessible and inclusive. It seems that merely owning a Latin Transcript in dot RU gives you few in any right over registration of dot RF.

over 6 years ago

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Greig Holbrook, director at Oban DigitalSmall Business Multi-user

It's good to see the article has sparked some interesting debate, reflecting the many different angles of multilingual SEO. Oban have worked with many UK clients in successfully improving their SEO in Russia, and the article is a summary of a few of the interesting facts our research has uncovered. But, of course, there are many differing opinions on the matter and what works best depending on the client.

over 6 years ago

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SEOP

The most obvious thing to do is to target keywords locally and build links from local sites.

over 6 years ago

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Mohan

Forex is a 24 hour market and there will be good setups for profitable trades in ... Money in Forex Mini-course. Pro Forex Trading Course. Best Forex System ...  http://bestforextradingadvice.com/

almost 6 years ago

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tiffany

Es tut mir leid, dass es bei dir nicht so läuft, aber ohne dich persönlich angreifen zu wollen .- hier wirkt dein Eintrag deplatziert. Ich glaube das ist etwas offtopic.

over 5 years ago

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THEM

This article could also apply to French: How can French businesses improve their SEO in Russia? At they really should!

almost 4 years ago

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Fur Elm, MD at BuxUp

We can help you to improve your Russian SEO at www.BuxUp.co.uk

9 months ago

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