Yandex, or Языково́й as I like to call it, is a Russian search engine that ranks as the 8th biggest search engine around.  It’s big in Russia and as of Wednesday (19th May) it’s been launched to the English speaking world, to some acclaim from within the SEO industry.

It certainly seems to have caught Rand Fishkin’s attention who has been positively tweeting:

“Been playing w/  at Distilled’s office. Our consensus: better than Bing, sometimes better than Google. Wow.”

“I keep searching on and keep being impressed. Can’t believe how relevant, spam-free and useful their results are.”

“For SEOs, Yandex search may be a very valuable additional data point around relevancy/trust/authority. I need to write a blog post.”

“Even weird queries like and are impressive. Can’t complain about their results for “SEO” either :-)”

I suppose we better take note, or at least a look at what the fuss is about and find out how we got about getting our sites ranking highly on this new engine.

One less button than Google I see.

First of all, I suppose it’s a question of what “better” search results mean to you.   I tried the following query for starters: “SEO”

Yandex search for SEO
Google search for SEO
Bing search for SEO

In each case, I got the Wikipedia entry followed by a series of SEO companies.  The obvious thing you will note is that of Yandex’s page 1 entries, 8 out of 10 feature SEO or Search Engine Optimisation in the URL, compared to Google’s 4.  Bing is pretty much the same as Yandex with 8/10 but noticeably their results are UK based as opposed to Yandex’s global results.

Next up, “car insurance”:

Yandex search for car insurance
Google search for car insurance
Bing search for car insurance

Again, Yandex goes global and leans heavily towards keyword rich domains, whilst Bing and Google return the big UK brands in this niche.

For me, these results would not suggest that Yandex is “better” than either Google or Bing, but then again, the search terms are better for a “local” audience than a global one.

Interestingly, if you follow the about Yandex link on the home page, it would seem they position themselves more as a rival to Ask Jeeves than Google or Bing.

1. What Yandex Does
Give answers
Our major goal is to give answers to users’ questions.
Questions can be explicit or implicit. Explicit questions are typed right in Yandex’s search box and return answers to users in the form of search results. To answer implicit questions like “what is the weather like today”, “is there anything important going on now”, “can I drive downtown without traffic jams” Yandex offers its users specialized information services.”

Fair to say, it’s a dead heat.  Though out of all the results returned, Yandex’s no.9 is pretty good if you’re into that sort of thing: –

Thinking implicitly, I asked “where did I leave my pen”. The results were not great.  Yandex was the only one who didn’t rank the Facebook group dedicated to the age old question.  With 324,696 fans it’s probably as relevant as you’re going to get.

Even the Yandex suggestion of “is there anything important going on now” returns nothing of note,  it’s own page with the exact text match comes in at 6.

No doubt the usual suspects of links and content will come into play but I’m pretty sure from the queries performed that Yandex is bias toward keyword rich domains, page names and URLs.   This would undoubtedly favour keyword rich spammy URLs, obviously more research is needed but that to me is not better than any search engine currently out there.