In the end of November last year Yandex started marking mobile-friendly pages with “mobile version” label in mobile search results of all Yandex search properties. They also openly confirmed our suspicions that this was the first step towards making mobile-friendliness a ranking factor in the nearest future. And today is the day! Yandex just announced [in Russian] in their corporate blog that they are rolling out a new ranking formula that takes into account mobile-friendliness of a page when delivering search results on mobile devices.
As always, the new algorithm is named after a Russian city – this time Vladivostok, the capital of Russia’s Far East, where Yandex see the biggest share of mobile Internet users comparing to other regions in Russia.
Up until now Yandex SEO penalties were often difficult to diagnose. A lot of times webmasters had to contact Yandex to find out what caused, for example, drop in traffic or sharp decline in number of indexed pages.
On Friday last week Yandex announced a new section in their new Yandex.Webmaster toolkit [at the moment in Russian only] that will notify webmasters and site owners about violations of Yandex SEO guidelines found on their web properties.
This morning Yandex announced yet another feature to cater their growing mobile user base. From today the search engine starts to mark mobile-optimized pages in its mobile search results in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The “mobile version” label will automatically appear next to listings of webpages with responsive design or mobile version on separate URL (e.g. m.habrahabr.ru).
Yandex have been expressing their negative attitude towards link trade in Russian SEO for years.
Starting from 2009, when AGS penalty, focused on punishing low quality sites usually created for selling SEO links, was introduced, Yandex began taking actions against link sellers. Typical symptoms of AGS were de-indexing of majority of pages of the affected website.
In 2014 AGS penalty evolved and instead of removing pages from the search index, Yandex started decreasing the TIC of the affected sites to zero, making them absolutely uninteresting to both existing and potential link buyers.
This week Yandex has announced [in Russian] yet another update to their AGS penalty. From now on AGS will also negatively affect organic rankings of the websites caught selling SEO links. At the same time TIC will continue being decreased to zero. The new AGS penalty can be applied to any site, regardless of its quality and authority.
Three weeks have passed since Yandex had released their new ranking algorithm “Minusinsk” – the new algorithm which may turn paid links into a negative ranking signal for all types of queries.
So far just a few hundred sites have been affected by the Minusinsk link penalty, but Yandex promise we will see more. Among the first victims there were several very big Russian sites, such as one of the largest electronic stores Holodilnik.ru and a number of well-known digital marketing agencies. Of course, this news have shaken the Russian SEO society and raised a lot of questions among international SEOs as well.
Last week I had a pleasure to meet Alexander Sadovsky, Head of Search at Yandex, at Yandex HQ in Moscow and had a chat with him about link-related penalties and organic rankings in the new era of Yandex SEO.