Have you ever heard such a word a word as “Yandex”? If so, you might have dealt with Russian internet market or you are an expert in digital industry and aware of key players on international scale. For those, who has no idea what Yandex is, this post will be interesting and hopefully informative.
The history of Yandex started in late 80’s. The site that we know today was created in 1997. In 1998 except usual search Yandex added the option of searching by dates, which gave users sort of multiplicity. Besides the number of indexed pages was much higher than any other search engines at the market at that time.
In 1999 the team of Yandex marketers launched a TV commercial with a slogan “Everything is findable”, which was very unusual, particularly for a post-soviet audience. Despite the fact that people hardly understood the meaning of the slogan, history demonstrates that they checked the website at least because it was known. As a result, audience was growing tremendously and in 2000 Yandex was recognized as a number one search engine in Russia.
Automatically set homepage has played an important role in Yandex success. During the period of uncontrolled soft very often as a result of downloading any soft Yandex has been set as a homepage. Users weren’t aware of methods to remove it and consequently left the page by default. That clearly has illustrated the fact that Yandex leveraged users’ incompetence to hold its position at the market at the time of the Internet development in Russia.
Google came at Russian market in the end of 2004. Traditionally Google volume of audience maintains comparatively low due to Yandex monopoly. However, as it might be seen from the graph below Google had a strong surge in the number of users in 2014.
This stat prompted me to compare these two web giants, to better understand their pros and cons and clarify which search engine has more chances to dominate the Russian market.
- Language issues are easily tackled by Yandex. In addition, the Russian search engine is better at understanding CrazyFont: writing in Russian using English, rather than Cyrillic letters. CrazyFont is the most popular among Russians living abroad who don’t have access to a Russian keyboard. Yandex understands the complex searches better and therefore, returns more results.
- Regional search results are more relevant. It is more likely to find precise information relative to regional news in Yandex rather than in Google.
- Integration with Yandex services as mail, traffics, weather forecast, cloud storage, maps, web wallet, news. Everything is on the main page and accessible in one click.
- Higher relevancy of search results, which lies in different ways of ranking. Google is more content orientated, web site optimization is a core element of being ranked highly by Google. Things are much simpler with Yandex, search engine builds his top list based mainly on number of backlinks and its authority (SeoIntelect, 2015).Obviously, this is not the only ranking factor, web sites still need to be user-friendly, have a seamless user journey and quality content. Although Yandex announced in 2014 that the use of backlinks as a ranking factor has been rejected, the experts from “Ashanov and partners” showed that still it significantly affects positioning. Despite the latest attempts of improvements in this field, Yandex is still lagging behind its competitor.
- Speed of indexing pages is significantly better compared to Yandex, the reason being the differing method of indexing pages. Yandex is gathering new pages in one database and only after filtering put it into users search results. On average Yandex’s update takes 7 days, while Google is indexing new pages and sending it in search results simultaneously. Russian analytical company “Ashanov and partners” measures the speed of indexing pages annually. Google is being an absolute leader.
- Mobile orientation is one of the key, winning tactics that Google has used. Being a default search engine for Android platform, Google reaches the majority of Russian mobile users; Why is this?
- First of all, it is a crucial aspect for any search engines to become a default one on desktops or mobile devices. Importance of that might be illustrated by Yandex’s example itself. At times, when Apple didn’t allow to set up Yandex as a default search provider on iPhones, Yandex market share on this device accounted for 35%. However, as soon as Yandex was included in a list of possible default search providers, its share has increased by 14%.
Secondly, mobile phone usage of Google, especially among young audience, is rising. The share of devices, using for Internet access, has been changing fast. According to TNS in 2015 mobile phones share raised by 34 % over last year, along with smart TV and tablets, 41% and 20 % respectively, while desktop’s share went down by 1%.
- The third reason is Android smartphones. The figures from Mail.ru Group report show that 75 % of Russian users have Android platform on their smartphones, that makes Google number one search engine on mobile phones. Moreover, Google is likely to seek a further increase in a share of the mobile audience as the economy shrinks, incomes decline and people prefer cheaper Android phones. It is no wonder why the well thought-out move from Google has led to a remarkable increase in number of users. Last year Russia opened an investigation into Google after the desperate Yandex asked for a review of the U.S. company’s Android mobile operating system. Yandex asked Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service to check if Google is violating Russian regulation. Sergey Libin, Moscow-based analyst at Raiffeisenbank, suspects that “Yandex expects a ruling in its favor and sees it as a silver bullet (Bloomberg, 2014).
Though Yandex may in some ways be better suited to serving the Russian Internet user, after all it is domestic service, Google seems to have an advantage with its wider accessibility. Overall, the reality is that Internet users are migrating to mobile and since Android devices dominate mobile, Google will increase its number of users and probably will be able to catch up with Yandex.