Everyone knows that Russia is a very big country. Not everyone knows, however, that Yandex has a very advanced local search technology that is able to deliver local SERPs to all 83 regions of the country.
Yandex started actively working with local search results in 2008-2009 and has been perfecting the formula ever since. In the past I wrote several posts about regional SERPs and how to change the regional affinity in Yandex Webmaster, but haven’t really touched the topic of how to correctly configure regional settings for Yandex SEO from the beginning. This is what this post is about.
Regional settings are important if you work with so-called “geo-dependent” search queries, such as “Italian restaurant”, “flower delivery” and other product and service that can be purchased locally. If you are dealing with geo-independent queries, for example “online games” or “pasta recipes”, no need to worry about regional affinity at all.
According to Yandex’s own recommendations (in Russian) on how to deal with regional settings for websites, the basic actions for the site owner should be:
1. Provide full company address, including post code, and contact phone numbers, including area code for the relevant region, on the website.
3. If a business operates in several regions, provide full contact information for all regional offices.
Although Yandex does not explicitly advises so, it is always good to submit a website to Yandex Catalog and assign relevant region there as well.
Even though Yandex claims that it is possible to have several regions associated with one website, there seems to be a limit. For example, Yandex Catalog allows only 7 regions to be connected to one listing.
In cases when a company provides services in all (or a large number) of regions, the most common practice is to create directories, subdomains or even separate websites for each of them.
The procedure for assigning region to each directory or subdomain is the same as described above.
Here are some good examples of how large websites handle their regional-specific sections:
1. Region-specific directories
2. Region-specific subdomains
Yandex SEO strategies for multi-regional websites
Be as local as possible. Write region-centered content, for example, use “restaurants in Moscow” instead of just “restaurants” in your text copy, try to use local terminology, where applicable.
2. Domains and URLs
No matter how the regional sections are organized (directories, subdomains or separate domains), the name of the region should be present and prominent in the URL. This will help Yandex to classify the site correctly.
Russians often use abbreviations for region/ city names such as “spb” for St. Petersburg, “msk” for Moscow, “nsk” for Novosibirsk. It is fine to use them in directory / domain names; Yandex will understand the meaning.
http://www.kras.mts.ru/?fromgt=1 for targeting Krasnoyarsk
http://pyaterochka.ru/shops/ekaterinburg/ for targeting Ekaterinburg
http://www.tomsk.tele2.ru/ for targeting Tomsk
http://www.sportmaster.ru/store/490/ for targeting Vladivostok
Local links are very important when it comes to ranking in regional SERPs. Make sure to register the company in local directories, and make sure than all incoming links you acquire have the right regional affinity.
The capital is the toughest region for Yandex SEO. Depending on keyword difficulty, you might even want to assign region Moscow to your homepage to be able to match the competition.