SEO and SEM for Russian search engines

New regulations for .RU and .РФ domains

Today forums and other social media were buzzing with the news concerning Russian domains .RU and .РФ (TLD that stands for Russian Federation in Cyrillic letters; later .RF). Apparently, the rule introduced in spring 2010, requiring that every domain registrar / owner must submit a copy of a valid passport to identify himself/ herself.

The introduction of this rule provoked a lot of angry conversations in SEO forums, and made life difficult for the non-Russian-speaking individuals owning or intending to purchase a .RU or .RF domains.

Interestingly, .RF domains, while being a hot topic of discussion for several months, never gained popularity in Russia. The press reported that in June 2011 there were around 850 000 registered .РФ domains and 3,3 million .RU domains, however one hardly ever sees any websites in .Rf (apart from http://президент.рф/ meaning president.ru)

Popular explanations of this fact, among the others, are:

a) Having .RF domain is not great for the companies planning or considering expanding the business to countries outside former USSR, where no one can read Cyrillic and no one has Cyrillic keyboard, which will make it impossible to type in the domain or conduct email correspondence.

b) Some people reported problems with indexing of .RF domains by various search engines, such as Mail.ru and Yahoo.

c) Not all CMS support Cyrillic domains correctly.

Although for a Russian-speaking user .RF domain (or any Cyrillic domain really) is more memorable, technically it is more difficult to maintain it. The common practice among the Russian businesses is to SEO .RU domains and make sites .RF mirrors of .RU sites. Then .RF domains are used for marketing and branding, while .RU domains stay preferable for search engines.

Anna Oshkalo

Anna is a blogger and online marketing consultant specializing in SEO and SEM for Russian search engines. To see more of Anna's posts, follow her on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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