The day has come when I can start writing articles ala “SEO is Dead” about Yandex SEO. Today at IBC Russia comference Alexander Sadovskiy, Head of Web Search at Yandex, announced that in the beginning of 2014 they will roll out a new ranking algorithm that does not takes links into considerations.
Just as most of the previous scary changes, the new Yandex algorithm will affect commercial search queries. The reason is that there is too much link spam in commercial verticals, explain Sadovsky. There are fewer “SEO links” in informational sites’ link profiles, and since the links are mostly natural, it is fine to use them as a ranking signal, and Yandex will continue doing so.
The new algorithm will be rolled out in Moscow region in the beginning of 2014, and in other big regions later next year. The algorithm has been tested, and the quality of search results stayed on a very high level, acocrding to Sadovskiy.
Of course the news created a lot of negativity in the audience and in social channels, since Yandex SEO was based on link buying for many years, and the link selling industry had a turnover of millions of US dollars. A group of activists even created a hashtag “#ссылкомайдан” (link Maidan) in Twitter, named with relation to the anti-governmental movements in Ukraine that take place on Maidan square in Kiev.
There is no information about what will replace links in the new Yandex ranking formula, however Sadovskiy tells us not to panic: there are about 800 factors in Yandex algorithm today, and only a few dozens of them are link-related. There are still 750 factors left to work with.
Of course, SEOs are already speculating about the next big thing after links and ways to manipulate them. The candidates are behavioral factors, social signals, content, structured data and usability. The products that can fake behavioral factors and allow buying tweets, likes and shares are already plenty, but Sadovskiy advised to refrain from using them claiming that Yandex already developed a penalty for this kind of manipulations.
2014 will be an interesting year. Stay tuned!