When you “google” anything, you are joining approximately 90% of all worldwide search engine queries. Needless to say, this is pretty robust market dominance, but the remaining 10% is problematic for Google due to the fact that it is mostly in/around the emerging markets of China and Russia. While China will be discussed in a later article, current numbers show that, in Europe’s largest Internet market, domestic search engine Yandex controls 53.66% of the Russian search engine market (including searches from computers, phones, and tablets) as well as a substantial amount of neighbouring markets: 29.8% in Belarus; 23.77% in Uzbekistan; 21.74% in Kazakhstan; and, despite Westernization efforts, 7.94% in Ukraine.
At first glance, it is easy to assume that “a search engine is a search engine.” After all, looking at this scenario, both companies offer similar services, such as free e-mail, data storage, maps, language translator, music/video services, as well as attempting to meet your search needs. Still, even though Google’s Android OS has 70% of the mobile phone market share in Russia, almost 45% of all searches occur through Yandex. Simply put, if you want to fully access Russia, you need both Google and Yandex, but, in order to do that, it’s important to understand how these 2 companies do the same thing in very different ways.
Since most of us are likely familiar with how Google search operates, let’s look at what makes Yandex different:
Target Demographic – Instead of focusing on overall popularity to determine search results, Yandex considers results based on location. Though this provides more relevant local information, it also means that search results will vary based on location.
Quality over Speed – While Google tends to obsess about site/page updates and fast indexing to assure freshness, Yandex is more concerned with the number of visitors a site receives and how long a visitor stays on a website.
Language – Naturally, a Russian-based company that handles the majority of Russian language searches will have a better understanding of how Russian-speakers search than a foreign-based company based on absolute data, meaning that simply translating your keyword into Russian likely won’t work.
No Meta – For Google, a bad meta description can kill the number of clicks you receive. Yandex has decided against using this and, instead, presents a varying section of text, meaning that all portions of text should be relevant and have a suitable keyword density.
Spam/Penalties – Lowering the penalty and spam threshold may allow more results; however, Yandex is more strict when it comes to penalising websites and, when it comes to identifying/blocking spam, Yandex intends to rely on user experience and keyword ranking metrics to create a better, less spammy experience.
Data Laws – Considering the massive data involved in using multiple services, recently passed laws regarding the usage and transmission of data in Russia seem to place Yandex on top of the search engine market in Russia for the foreseeable future, at least until foreign-providers are willing to invest in fully-Russian infrastructure.
As has been discussed numerous times, any marketing message needs to be localised in order to meet the needs of and effectively communicate with the local customers. In a general sense, Russia and the aforementioned countries are no different; however, in addition to the local language and needs, it is essential that you meet the market in a comfortable medium, which, in this case, is Yandex. Due to differences with Google, aside from simply translating any web presence into a foreign language, in order to achieve the best possible market penetration and results, it is important to partner with a Language Services Provider that can assist with navigating any barriers so that you get the best search engine results possible.