First thoughts of foreign only search results

by Peter Young on May 20, 2010 · 4 comments

For those that missed it, Yandex yesterday announced it was opening up the ability to search foreign sites only something which was previously not possible on the Russian search engine. According to the press release from Yandex yesterday

Yandex offers its users an option of limiting their search only to foreign websites. To search in English or other Latin alphabet-based languages on, users can enable the global search filter and see results exclusively from the foreign web resources. The global search is also available at the company’s experimental launched for testing new search algorithms.

Yandex has been indexing foreign websites and adding global content to its search results for two years already. According to Yandex’s analysts, web users in Russia look for, first and foremost, locally relevant information in their own language, with foreign websites being only an extension to local search results. However, it may happen so that the user wants to receive an answer specifically from a foreign website. Yandex can now satisfy this need in only one click.

So, the search query [beatles] on returns a long list of websites in Russian, with foreign resources only few and far between. But with the global search filter enabled, the results lead exclusively to foreign web resources. By default, Yandex search prioritizes local websites as before

User queries in one of the Latin-alphabet based languages total to 12-15% of all searches on Yandex. But not every foreign language query automatically requires limiting search specifically to foreign content. The product name of some gadget more often than not signals the user’s intention to buy this model close to their home or read feedback from other local users. To meet this demand, Yandex’s search results page now has the option to view either local or foreign search results separately.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Search Engine Market Share

Yandex has long since been a player within the Russian market, with around 45% marketshare over the course of the last year or so – however this steps marks a big step forward in terms of expansion into the global search market. I am personally of the opinion the Russian search giant is by no means a Google Killer as previous entrants to the Global market have been deemed – however I would add they are a viable competitor to smaller operators within the search space – particularly given the feedback from many esteemed search marketeers within the SEO establishment such as :

I keep searching on and keep being impressed. Can’t believe how relevant, spam-free and useful their results are.
Rand Fishkin – EOMoz

Is Yandex (just launched in English) better than Google? It certainly looks better than Bing:
Will Critchlow – Distilled

I’ve had some pretty positive results. Short & longtail. I’ve also seen some awful drops. Seems to
Ingo Bousa – Guava

Others have been less positive

I think it’s because it’s just “global” results. It doesn’t seem very good at short-tail queries, and it’s worse at long-tail
Dave Peiris - SharkSEO

Initial analysis of the Yandex resultset would certainly suggest a much lower prominence on off-page factors than say Google in particular with the following elements of particular focus:

  • Use of keyword in the domain
  • Use of keywords within page names
  • Title Tags
  • Use of keyword on-page

As I said earlier, I personally am of the opinion that by no means a viable competitor to Google in the short to medium term. One only has to look at their Russian marketshare above to see that Google already has a stable foothold in the Russian market, however should Yandex continue to push any global presence they may well become a viable alternative to the likes of Bing and Yahoo.

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Dave May 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for the mention Pete :)

I think it really struggles with long-tail phrases (at least for the ones I’ve tried). Try searching across all the engines for “biggest receiver of US foreign aid”.

It’s a surprisingly difficult query for the engines to get right – Google doesn’t do particularly well, but at least finds a relevant (but dated) result in there. Bing doesn’t do too badly with a 2007 article on Israel being the largest receiver of US foreign aid included high up the SERPs. Yahoo isn’t particularly helpful but all three strongly outshine Yandex massively.

Yandex’s first three listings are, in order, a Wikipedia article on the Live Aid concert, an article on the aid industry in Nepal and, bizarrely, a Word doc on the largest receiver of Arab aid. It’s almost as if it can’t work out what the phrase is about, so just does a search for each individual word in the query and then merges the results.

Mikhail May 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm


Yandex’s share in Russian internet (Runet) in april 2010 was 63.6%, while Google’s – 21.8%, according to (russian metric company);date=2010-04-30;period=month

Peter Young May 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Hi Mikhael

Thanks for letting us know


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