In April Yandex launched a new algorithm known as Arzamas these days (Arzamas is a name of a Russian city btw). Apart from many new factors affecting rankings, such as for example duplicate content filter that removed over one million of pages from the index in one night, in the new algorithm was implemented a new geotargeting feature.
Even before it was possible to search among websites that belonged to a specific region by selecting the region manually in advanced search options. Arzamas went further. Arzamas assigns websites to a specific region automatically. How? Haha.. we wish we knew =) Sometimes it gets it all wrong…
The known factors defining a region your site is attached to are:
– location-by-IP data
– domain names
– content-related features: ZIP and area codes on your contact page
– region you assign to the site yourself when registering it in Yandex Directory
Some people speculate that origin of your backlinks has an impact, i.e. if sites from, say, Vladivostok link to you that means your site is also from Vladivostok.
You can easily find out the region a site assigned to with the help of Yandex bar. Just hover over the Quotation Index indicator. Three possible options are available:
Region – Russia. This means the site will rank the same all over the country
Region – unknown. Here it is hard to predict how this will affect your cross-regional rankings. From my experience, you can still see differences among regional SERPs for smaller sites.
Region – (city/ region name). This means your site will rank better in that particular region.
Yandex provides a tool for comparison of regional SERPs: http://webmaster.yandex.ru/wmconsole/compare_regions.xml. Please try it out. The results can surprise you =P
Right now regional SERPs fully function for Moscow and St. Petersburg from what is known officially. Algorithms for the other regions of Russia are to be released later. Yandex claimed that the goal is to distinguish between 50 regions at least.
Please note that when searching in Yandex from Europe/ US the SEPRs are completely messed up. I highly recommend to use a Russian proxy when checking rankings.
And the last note for this post. Today Yandex released a beta version of Arzamas 1.1, which you can test here: http://buki.yandex.ru/. This new algorithm will be used for all Russian regions excluding Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg. Apparently if you add &lr=* (* is a code of your region) while searching in this beta version, you can see your regional SERPs. By adding &lr=225 Yandex eta will show SERPs for region “Russia”.