Have to tell you guys from the beginning that none of my clients was even penalized or banned from Yandex. I had problems with particular pages a couple of times, but never with an entire website. But since it is an important thing to know and I get many questions related to Yandex penalties, I will write about the most common cases, which my fellow webmasters have been facing.
In my personal opinion, if your website is relatively old (3-4 years) and full of good content, it is very hard to get penalized by Yandex. After the recent changes in its search algorithm, Yandex started to push up brands and big highly trusted sites and at the same time newly born websites get into trouble much more than before.
Here is the list of the most common Yandex search filters. Please feel free to add more to the list!
– AGS-30 (or older version AGS-17)
Automated filter against bad quality websites (mostly applied to websites created for selling links without any value to Internet users). When this filter is applied, most of the pages of the site get banned from Yandex (according to the SEO community about 10 pages are usually left).
The name of this filter comes from a Russian machine gun, which looks like this =)
Existence of this filter was announced by Yandex itself on their corporate blog.
– Link spam
Penalty for selling link. Can be applied to a single link (i.e. links are discarded and do not pass any value), single page (page is banned from Yandex) or the whole site (the whole site banned from Yandex).
– Keyword stuffing
Extremely high keyword density. Pages get banned from Yandex.
– Malicious java redirects
– Duplicate content
Pages with copied or badly re-written content get banned completely or lowered in the SERPs.
Yandex has been always very good with understanding Russian language and its linguistics. I believe that it is one of the reasons why it is dominating over Google in Russia. Even though Yandex SERPs have been historically easier to manipulate, the search results are in many cases much more relevant that those of Google.
In the last months Yandex started to pay more and more attention to content and its quality. The technology of defining the initial source of content was improved significantly and duplicate content penalty has become much more common. Texts with grammar mistakes will never rank high either.
– Sites with pop-under banners are intentionally lowered in Yandex SERPs and carry less or no value as a link source. This was announced by Yandex in their corporate blog some months ago.
– Too little keyword variation in anchor texts of incoming links can cause a penalization, however Yandex is for the moment much more tolerant than Google.
– Unnatural link growth can cause a penalization, although again, Yandex is much more tolerant to this than Google. However, a link from 40 000 pages from a spammy forum will hurt for sure.
Final note. Yandex massively updates SERPs more or less every second week. During these updates it is quite common that some sites disapper and reappear in the SERPs. Do not panic if this happens. It is very likely the site will come back to the old positions ithin a couple of days, if you have not done anything dodgy..