Some months ago I wrote a post about Yandex and “nofollow” attribute of the <A> tag. Yandex did not, for some obscure reason, read nofollow attribute, so any “nofollowed” link was passing just as much link juice as a direct link in the eyes of Yandex. In order to prevent unwanted links being indexed until now webmasters used tag <noindex> around the piece of code with the link.
Last week however things changed. I did not see any public announcement, but many SEOs noticed that the amount of backlinks in Yandex Webmaster tools dramatically decreased for many websites, and this is because suddenly Yandex started to understand rel=”nofollow”. A note about that also appeared in Webmaster Help (in Russian).
This will change things for a lot of websites. Forum and blog comments spam, as well as spamming Wikipedia, was very common SEO technique and it worked fairly well in not-so-competitive verticals. SEO forums were full of complaints last week. I find it rather funny. OMG! Now we actually have to work and think to get those good links! =)
All in all, I think Yandex SEO trends follow those of Google, still with a couple of years of delay. The next step towards civilized optimization is going to be taken in the coming months: Yandex announced that they are planning to support rel=”canonical”.