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.
The new search algorithm Minusinsk that brought links back into Yandex ranking formula has been live for about a week now. The first implications of it were spotted by Russian SEO community a few days later: several hundreds of websites in various verticals were penalized for aggressive link buying.
Today at YaMasterskaya conference held at Yandex HQ the search team revealed some more details about the new algorithm, first wave and upcoming second wave of penalties and explained how to avoid problems connected to using spammy link building techniques in the past.
New Yandex ranking algorithm Minusinsk that was announced on the 15th of April went live [in Russian] exactly one month after the announcement – on the 15th of May – according to the official Yandex Webmaster Blog. Yandex Search Team reminded that paid SEO links now negatively affect organic rankings.
Yandex gave webmasters one month to remove SEO links. Some of the most aggressive link buyers received email notifications via Yandex.Webmaster:
Exactly 2 weeks ago Alexander Sadovsky, head of Yandex Search, announced new ranking algorithm – “Minusinsk” (tradionally, since 2008, all versions Yandex have been named after Russian cities) – that brought back links as a ranking factor into Yandex SEO. The difference with the search algorithm that Yandex had a year ago is that now links can have both positive and negative influence on site rankings in Yandex.
The new algorithm is going to be rolled out gradually starting from mid-May. Unlike the previous algorithm change, when links were removed as a ranking factor, which only affected some of the commercial verticals and only in Moscow region, the new algorithm will cover all regions of Russia, all types of search queries and all websites – from big to small.