The State of Organic Search Marketing in Russia

September 22, 2017 Gracielle

As one of the direct competitors of America, is Russia much of the same when it comes to Organic Search Marketing and the digital marketing space as well? Looking at the data for the top search engines that Russians uses, Yandex and Google get the lion share of the online traffic. The chart below shows the Search Engines and their respective traffic share. Data is based on a study done by a Russian company named LiveInternet.

Understanding the search marketing landscape in Russia involves concepts in Local SEO, Social Media, and Audience Characteristics.

Local SEO

Just like any Country-based Search Marketing, Local SEO concepts will always be a part of any digital marketing campaign. As a marketer, put yourself in the shoes of a Russian using the web and browsing for the things he needs. Knowing the online culture in Russia will help you understand how they are when they search for things online. Using research tools like Google Keyword Planner and SemRush provides first glance information about your marketing space in Russia.

Competitor research in your digital marketing space will lead you to information like the marketing strategy they implement, the keywords your competitors are using, and content strategy they implement.

When creating a digital marketing plan for Russia, consider to maximize Local SEO for the country.

Social Media

In Russia, Social Media and search engines are almost in equal footing. The infographic below shows the social activity of Russians with and the devices they use. It would be best to maximize this audience through Search Marketing efforts like content marketing and mobile optimizations.

With the information given by the image above, merging efforts for SEO and Social media is a must. Creating content that is both share-worthy and easy to share for all devices.

Understanding the Russian Audience

Russians are just like any other online search user. They demand great content and user experience. They also take notice of the errors in any website and will surely get other people know about it. In addition, Russians are patriotic. They do not read that much English websites and would prefer often to have a website written in their own language. This patriotism also brings about a certain bias to their preferences. They love content revolving around government, public services, and daily life struggles in their country. Russians are not afraid to voice out their opinions.

Due to some Government restrictions, there are certain websites and banned practices in this part of the world. It would be best to read about these restrictions on this website.

Lastly if you think you do not have enough information about the Russian people, reading about their culture and their daily life will help you get to know more about what Russia is all about. This information is vital to any digital marketing campaign that you will be launching. SEO is just more than ranking for the top targeted keywords. It now has evolved into a complex concept that includes user experience and intent plus great content and search engine compliance.

How to optimize a website for the Russian Audience

Optimizing a website for higher ranking in Russia, should be done like a double barrel gun. SEO should be done for the top search engines in Russia – Yandex and Google. Russia has been known as a hub for black and grey hat SEO techniques. Most of these techniques are no longer working but people are still sticking to this method. These often involves methods of spamming and abnormal link acquisition. If you are still looking to use this method for your Search Marketing better not use these techniques as they would have long-term negative effects on your website. Search engines are becoming smarter every day and detection of abnormal SEO practices are becoming easier. It will be very difficult to maintain the rankings when they are built of bad SEO practices. The SEO for Google and Yandex are similar but there are certain processes that are unique for both search engines. Learn about them below.

SEO for Google

When optimizing for Google Search, much has been known about how to get to rank well on Google. Despite the locality of the Russian Google Search Engine much is still the same with regards to ranking well for Google. Here is the crash course on how to rank well on Google Search (according to Google himself);

SEO Basics

  • Create unique, accurate page titles
  • Make use of the “description” meta tag

Improving Site Structure

  • Improve the structure of your URLs
  • Make your site easier to navigate

Optimizing Content

  • Offer quality content and services
  • Write better anchor text
  • Optimize your use of images
  • Use heading tags appropriately

Dealing with Crawlers

  • Make effective use of robots.txt
  • Be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links

SEO for Mobile Phones

  • Notify Google of mobile sites
  • Guide mobile users accurately

Promotions and Analysis

  • Promote your website in the right ways
  • Make use of free webmaster tools

Read more about the specifics for each step on this PDF file by Google on Basic SEO.

SEO for Yandex

According to a post from SearchEngineJournal, SEO for Yandex has certain specification that is entirely different compared to Google. Here are the elements you need to consider:

Region Setting on Yandex

Every website indexed on Yandex are assigned a geographic location according to its IP address information, contact information (business address, zip code and phone number), website content, and domain name. You can check your location setting in Yandex Webmaster tool.

Hierarchy of Ranking Factors

Yandex has its own ranking algorithm named Snezhinsk. The algorithm is said to have over 1000 ranking factors and Content and Excellent backlink profile ranks as the most important once. In addition, here are 4 unique ranking signals that Yandex uses:

Quotation/Citation index

This search engine uses its own metric to rank a page according to this ranking signal. A Quotation or Citation Index can have a score of 1 up to 150,000. Non-public websites on Yandex gets a score of 150 to 2000. Good standing websites like those that are included in the top catalogues of this search engine has a score of 20,000 and above. High ranking websites is often related to have a good quotation/citation score index.


Yandex interprets geo-targeting based on the user intent of the keyword. They accumulate data based on how a keyword is paired with location-based keywords. As for keywords that refer a general location or universal meaning in terms of location, no geo-targeting bias is given in terms of the search results.

A great example for a keyword with geo-targeting emphasis is “plumbing services”. It often requires a location keyword to narrow its search. Yandex uses this trend in user intent to show the best results in terms of location. As a user, this search feature is activated by determining your actual location to deliver the best results to you. As a marketer, ensuring that your website is configured well to have its proper region set will determine how good your geo-targeting based rank is. Around 30% of queries in Yandex are Geo-dependent.

CTR and Traffic for Backlinks

Getting excellent backlinks is not enough for the Yandex Search engine. Its algorithm takes into account the CTR (Click-through-rate) and backlink traffic that goes into your backlinks. This search engine collects backlinks data that includes the CTR and traffic it accumulates. In simple terms, the better the CTR and traffic of backlink you acquired means that it has more value compared to other backlinks. In addition to the known quality of excellent backlinks, social media activity of the backlink is also taken into account. They are referred as non-organic search activity.

This feature of the backlink actually aids marketers to target a specific backlink opportunity on multiple metrics. It would narrow done the selection to a more comprehensive and efficient list. Do not forget to evaluate the Google-standard on backlinks as well as they still pose the biggest contributor to the value of the link. This is the list of attributes you would want to consider:

  1. Link Quality
  2. Link Relevancy
  3. Link Authority

Older Domain Age = Authority

Lastly, we have domain age. Although Google does consider this but not officially, Yandex highly considers domain age as an equivalent to higher authority in terms of website rankings. This cascades to other SEO concepts like time constraints on ranking a website. New websites will have a hard time ranking on Yandex as their domain age are relative new. In addition, domain age is also relative to the number of indexed pages of a website. It would be a time-consuming campaign to get your pages up in Yandex if you have a young website. Consider on getting yourself the best possible website with the right domain age. But be careful with the domain history of old website as some might have been penalized before. This would be doubly hard to rank as compared to new websites.

Always do additional research when subscribing to your digital marketing campaign. It is always best to collaborate your own efforts with the teachings from the experts.


    October 1, 2017 REPLY

    Hi Gracielle,

    As my target market doesn’t include Russia I haven’t ever looked into Russian SEO / marketing.
    However, your article was very interesting for general knowledge and I will tuck it away in the back of my mind in case my “parent company” ever expands into Russia.
    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark

      October 3, 2017 REPLY

      Thanks for the feedback Joy. Hope it helps in the future.

leave a comment

Real Street 9, Office 12 28991 Madrid, Spain [email protected] +34 918 160 238