SEO and SEM for Russian search engines

How Yandex use our behavioral data

For almost a year now Yandex is using machine learning technology aka Matrixnet. Until recently, the “learnings” were used for improving the SERPs: eliminating spam, understanding users’ intents in cases when search queries are too generic or have multiple possible meanings etc. etc. Opinions differ, but all in all the quality of search results is much better than when I started writing RussianSearchTips.

A week ago Yandex launched yet another search algorithm Reykjavík. They call it their first step towards personalized search. Reykjavík aims to adapt to users’ language preferences, i.e. shows more results in English to those who likes (and clicks on) results in English and the other way around.

Last week yet another human aspect was brought to the world’s attention: behavioral targeting for display advertising. Sounds good, right? But here comes the weird part.. or rather parts

a) “Behavioral targeting” includes dividing the audiences into 2 groups by gender, 5 groups by age and 2 groups by income.. Hmm, not that is interesting. The new technology called Crypta, which is behind this targeting, analyses search queries of Internet users and by looking on what people are searching for, it assigns them to these categories. But income, medium or high, still? C’mon!

b) Yandex is positioning this “smart” targeting as a “Super-premium” service and is charging 1,5 times more for using it, comparing to traditional targeting options. This comes as a surprise to me, since testing these things with both Bing and Google, from my experience, gave nothing. Yandex, however, prior to releasing this targeting, published a number or research papers of how and what different gender and age group search, so now, supported by all those stats, this “smart” targeting can actually sell..perhaps.

Now, a few other things I find amusing. Mail.ru, owning 2 major social networks in Russia (Odnoklassniki.ru and MoiKrug.ru) commented to CNews.ru that “when the (market) players do not possess actual information about their users, they are forced to replace it by hypothetical assumptions based on statistical algorithms. Not sure, Yandex’s approach can be a sufficient replacement for real knowledge about their audience”. WOW, I thought. That is mean.

But guess what, the day before yesterday Yandex released another new feature! Now you can sign in into ANY Yandex service with your account in several social media sites :-D , namely Vkontakte, Odnoklassniks, Facebook, Google, Mail.Ru or Twitter! This feature is available on all devices. Ha-ha, and how is that for “not possessing real data”? Working on it, working on it :-)

I am not sure, when or if antitrust and privacy law suits will hit Yandex, but these developments are really fun to watch! Looking forward to further developments :-)

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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