Eli Schwartz

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5 ADVANTAGES TO YANDEX OVER GOOGLE IN RUSSIA

Before Larry Page and Sergey Brin ever founded Google, Ilya Segalovich and Arkady Volozh had already created Yandex, currently Russia’s largest search engine. Google focused on calculating the PageRank of websites, and Yandex’s ranking algorithm took into account the distance between words and the relevance of documents to a searcher’s query.

Both search engines have since evolved to be fairly similar in how they determine rankings, but Yandex remains the market leader in Russia with 62 percent of the Russian search market, while Google only has 27 percent. Except for Russia, South Korea and Japan, Google is the market leader in every country in the world.

Read on to learn more about Yandex’s reach, and its advantages over Google.

Playing second fiddle to Yandex in Russia is actually quite significant since the country is the largest Internet market in all of Europe with 75 million users. Additionally, Russian Internet penetration is only 53 percent compared to the 80-90 percent penetration in most other European countries, and this allows Russia to continue to have double digit year on year growth for the last few years.

Yandex market share numbers have been relatively stable if not increasing for the last few years, and I strongly believe that Yandex will remain the dominant search engine in Russia.

Here are the five top advantages Yandex has versus Google, which will help maintain Yandex’s share long into the future.

1) Yandex is a portal. Yandex is the largest media destination in all of Russia and for many Russians, Yandex.ru is where they begin their day. In fact, Yandex is the largest media property in all of Russia.

Much like Google, Yandex offers free email, live traffic maps, music, videos, photo storage and much more. Many of these same features are some of the products that Google used to grow its adoption in all around the world by introducing users to the Google brand. Google was able to lure users away from weaker products like Hotmail, Mapquest and even Dropbox to use the Google alternatives. In Russia, Google will not have this opportunity, as the Yandex versions are comparable, if not better.

2) Yandex is better for Russian language search. Yandex was created specifically for the Russian market and is better able to handle specific Russian search challenges. In general, Google is not nearly as effective at parsing user intent over spelling in non-English search, but it is even weaker in Russian.

For example, the Russian language is highly inflected and some words can have up to 20 different endings. All Russian nouns have a grammatical gender, and the gender of the noun will affect the rest of the words in the sentence. Even the spelling of individual’s name could change based on gender. To illustrate, Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin’s ex-wife has the last name “Putina” instead of just Putin. While Google’s search only ranks pages that are relevant to the specific user query as it is spelled, Yandex is able to parse the synonyms and user intent regardless of the user’s spelling. As a result, for highly infected search queries, Google is providing the weaker search experience and therefore does not make a solid case for why a user should use Google more frequently.

3) Yandex is even popular on Android. While Google is able to use its Android mobile operating system to grow mobile search due to the embedded nature of Google search in Android, it’s not that effective in Russia. In Russia, Android has 70 percent of the Russian mobile market; yet, Yandex still has 52 percent of the search market on these very Android devices.

Furthermore, last year Yandex launched its own fork of Android, called Yandex Kit, which allows users to use Android without Google. Yandex even has its own app store with thousands of apps. Any user with root access could use the forked version of Android. This version of Android is already being sold by two handset makers, and is seeing growing adoption.

4) Yandex is Russian. While Russians do have an affinity towards Russian brands they also seem to like foreign products. Nonetheless, in the wake of the Snowden/NSA scandal, Russians might prefer using Yandex simply because they distrust Google.

Also, the Russian Duma just passed a bill that restricts exports of personal data. This law, if implemented, could make it very difficult for Google to operate as they do elsewhere. Restricting the data flow and storage that Google uses to improve its search quality could squelch any opportunity for Google to really be successful in Russia. We could see a scenario in Russia similar to China where the regulatory environment might encourage Google to be a lot less competitive.

5) Yandex’s algorithm might be able to better account for spam. The Russian online market is notorious for outright link spam methods. There are countless “ad” agencies that exist just to sell links for the purpose of increasing search rankings. As a result, Yandex announced they will not use links in their algorithms on commercial queries conducted in specific areas of the country. Instead, Yandex will solely use user experience and keyword ranking metrics. This effort by Yandex is still early, but it mayallow Yandex to generate better quality results than Google which undoubtedly filters spam links, but is most likely still giving credit to low quality links.

In summary, while Yandex saw its market share rise over the last few years as its competitors Rambler and Mail.ru stumbled, Google’s market share of Russian search actually dropped slightly. Yandex is likely to continue to grow at the expense of Google due to market realities that just don’t exist outside of Russia.

With the high stakes and benefits that will come from the continued growth of the web in Russia, we can expect Google will not give up the fight (provided they aren’t legislated away). It will be very interesting to see what sort of investments and acquisitions Google will use to try to become the dominant search engine in Russia.

 

Google Test

Knowledge Graph Included in Individual Google Search Results

Google is testing inserting knowledge graph information as a part of the actual search result. Typical knowledge graph info is shown just for the primary search query when it matches a brand, but in this test they are adding that to all sites that have knowledge graph enabled. The text that is included in the snippet is the same text that is in the knowledge box that would show up on the right side of the results.

Here is what the results looked like in this test when I searched “survey”. Notice the brand name to the right of the URL underneath the title.

knowledge box in search

 

This is what the knowledge box looks like as a part of the search result:

Knowledge box opened in search

And here’s what Wikipedia’s knowledge box looks like:

Another knowledge example

 

Have you seen something similar?

 

Google Test

Google Test: Adwords With White Backgrounds

Google is testing a new way of displaying Adwords ads that does not show a differentiating background color and instead labels the ad spots as “Ad”. Except for this label the paid and organic spots look exactly the same.

Google Test Adwords

This is the standard view that Google is showing now to users not in the test.

Traditional Adwords View

This new way of displaying ads will definitely make it even harder for users to differentiate between paid and organic positions.

Uncategorized

Does Google crawl 404 pages?

Does Google crawl and index 404 pages (not found)? I had heard conflicting theories from multiple people about how the Googlebot responded when it discovered a 404 pages. Does it immediately consider the 404 to be a hard stop, or will it crawl this like any other and possibly discover any linked pages.

I set out to find out by conducting the following test.

  1. I created a brand new page on an authoritative domain. There were no internal nor external links to this page
  2. The URL and title of the page was a single keyword that did not exist in Google
  3. Added a link to the new page on a 404 page of another authoritative domain
  4. The anchor text of the link was a word a word that did not exist in Google
  5. Edited a footer link on the domain to contain a typo, so Googlebot would crawl the 404 as fast as possible

Results:

  • Googlebot discovered the 404 in 6 hours.
  • Google immediately crawled the “hidden” page
  • The hidden page became the only result ranked on the non-existent keyword
  • There are still no results for the non-existent keyword used in the anchor text on the 404 page

Conclusions:

  • Google does crawl links discovered on a 404 of an authoritative domain
  • Googlebot does not trust the anchor text

I will continue testing to learn if the results change on a non-authoritative domain, and if a page can get ranked on a competitive keyword if the only link is on a 404 page.

 

International SEO

International SEO, How To Get Started

My prediction for 2014 is that International and Multilingual SEO becomes more important than it has ever been. If you have been doing SEO for awhile you already know that good keyword research is the bedrock of any SEO campaign. Keyword research defines the domain you choose, the structure of your site, and the content you create. There are dozens of ways to do keyword research using anything from a simple Google suggest search to SEMRush for deep competitive research.

But what do you when you need to conduct research in a language you don’t speak? Suddenly, all those great keyword research tools become useless or at least really hard to use. Don’t despair! If you are willing to be a little bit patient you can do keyword research without knowing a single word in a given language if you follow these steps. You can even use your data to decide which phrases and synonyms to target just like you would in English.

To learn how to get started on International SEO, try some of the steps I outlined in the presentation below or discussed on video here.  Any questions? Get in touch!

Google

Google Test: Placing Domain on Top of Result Title and Removing URL Path

Google seems to be testing where they place the URL for a specific result. In the test I noticed today, the URL is on top of the result. The result has the title and snippet, but Google is only showing the domain of the result and not the full path. I

 

Google URL on top of result

Clicking the down error next to the domain only shows you the “cached” or “similar” options and there is no option to show the full URL path.

 

Google URL test drop down

 

I like seeing the URL in a search result because I want to know if the result is a blog post, PDF or some other URL that I might not click. Additionally, there are times that I just want to copy the URL without clicking on it, and this option would no longer be available.

 

This gets really confusing when there are multiple results from the same domain.

Here is how the traditional results look:

Google traditional results

And here’s the test:

Google test - Google

 

Uncategorized

Pubcon 2013 Presentation Slides Collection

Here is a collection of as many Slideshare presentations as I was able to find on Twitter from this year’s Pubcon. My slides on In-House SEO Strategy are here.

 

If I am missing any, please submit them in the form below.

VInce Blackham: Pinterest Marketing 

Mike Ramsey: Local Marketing

Mike King: Content Quality

Alan Bleiweiss: SEO Auditing

Janet Driscoll-Miller: Landing Page Optimization

Matt Sitala: Social Comes Last

Stoney G DeGeyter: Keyword Research

Scott Hendison: Local and Mobile

Ken Jurina: Keyword Research

Mark Barerra: Keyword Research

Rebecca Murtaugh: Social Media and Search

Ben Cook: SEO Tools

Jacob Bohall: Algo Chaos

Ben Cook: WordPress SEO

Ben Cook: Creating Content

Roger Dooley: Conversion Optimization

Selena Narayanasamy: SEO Audits

Brian Lafrance: WordPress SEO

Todd Keup: CSS and HTML

Dana Lookadoo: SEO Personas

Rhea Drysdale: Brand Monitoring

Steve Floyd: Responsive Design

Greg Gifford: Local Search

Steve Floyd: Strategic Content

Mary Bowling: Data Management

Casey Markee: Author Rank

Paul Ryazanov Conversion Rate Optimization

Conferences

Pubcon Las Vegas 2013 Slides and Links

Thank you for attending my session on In-house SEO at Pubcon Las Vegas.

Slides:

Here are links to tools I mentioned:

ScreamingFrog: http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/

Tamper for Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/En-us/firefox/addon/tamper-data/

Ayima Redirect Checker: http://www.ayima.com/seo-knowledge/redirect-checker.html

Splunk: http://www.splunk.com/

Awstats: Extra section http://www.internetofficer.com/awstats/track-googlebot/

Awstats: http://awstats.sourceforge.net/

NerdyData: http://nerdydata.com/

Web Developer Plugin: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/web-developer/bfbameneiokkgbdmiekhjnmfkcnldhhm?hl=en-US

SurveyMonkey Audience $50 offer: www.surveymonkey.com/pubcon

Google

Google’s Hummingbird: Attempts to Target Search Options Based on Query Type

According to Search Engine Land, Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm is supposed to be more “precise and fast,” putting greater emphasis on understanding the intent of the user’s query. As a part of Hummingbird, Google seems to now do more than focus target results to the query intent; they are also adjusting the search options navigation based on the perceived user intent.

Here are some examples of what appears to be a work in progress by Google.

When I searched Google I see a standard search options navigation showing “Web”, “Images”, “Maps”, “Shopping”, “News” and “More”.

Google-standard-results

 

Adding the word nav into the query made Google think that I was looking for an application since they swapped “news” for “applications” as a search option.

google-nav-in-nav

 

 

When I searched Marketing Software the “News” option was replaced with “Patents”.

patents-in-google-nav

 

Showing “patents” as an option seems to make sense when the query contained software but when I swapped software with tools, Google replaced “patents” with “books.”

books-in-nav

 

Curious, I queried the name of an actual book, Marketing in the Age of Google (by Vanessa Fox) to see if Google identified the query as a book. Unfortunately, Google thought that this query was for a video since they swapped the “books” option for “videos”.

videos-in-google-nav

 

I added the word book into the query to see if this would force “books” as a search option. However, Google’s intent matching was unable to recalculate so much so that they didn’t show any fifth option at all-only showing the four standard options.

no-option-in-google-nav

 

Very specific queries,(Root Android 4.3 Forum) with the word forum showed “Discussions” as a search option…

discussions-in-nav

 

But, if the query is less specific, (Android Forum) “discussions” is removed and the default “news” is shown instead.

Standard-android

 

Pasta dishes brings up “recipes” as a search option.

recipes-in-nav

As expected, SEO blogs shows “blogs” as an option.

blogs-in-nav

 

Changing the Google search options based on user queries seems to be in its very early stages; however, this feature could be useful for anyone trying to figure out how Google might classify a keyword.

 

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