I never really focused on writing about Meta tags for Yandex in this blog, mainly because it seemed just too obvious to me. Now, however, Yandex has implemented a change, which is totally worth mentioning!
Which Meta tags matter in Yandex SEO
We all know that Google and Bing do not pay attention to Meta keywords and Meta description tags, while Meta description is still very important for catching searcher’s attention in busy SERPs. Yandex however never, from what I know, made any public statements with regards to these tags.
In Yandex Webmaster Help they state the following:
Yandex robot takes into account the content of the following tags:
<Meta name=”Keywords” content=”…”/> — may be taken into account when the robot determines if a page matches a search query;
<Meta name=”Description” content=”…”/> — contents of this tag may be used in snippets (site descriptions that appear on the search result page);
Seeing this one can assume that Meta keywords and Meta description play a role in Yandex SEO, but how important are they?
Yandex and Title tag
It is a must to have a well-written title containing keywords. Yandex uses title tags in their ranking algorithm. Very important part of your on-site optimization strategy.
Yandex and Meta Description Tag
The influence of Meta description tag on site rankings is quite unclear. Very often Yandex prefers making up its own snippets instead of the Meta description you specify. From my personal observation, well-written Meta description summarizing the page and containing main keywords has a good chance to appear as a snippet in search listings and therefore should not be ignored. Just like with Google, treat it as a field where you communicate the benefits of visiting your page.
Put time into writing good Meta descriptions for your pages. This probably won’t directly affect your rankings, but can help to increase CTR. Mind that behavioral factors are a part of Yandex ranking formula, so obviously higher CTR = better behavioral factor = better position!
Yandex and Meta Keywords tag
Same as with Meta description tag, I never noticed strong correlation between including Meta keywords and improving rankings on Yandex. If you analyze a SERP for any search term, I bet you will find all sorts of approaches to Meta keywords from stuffing it with all possible keywords to completely ignoring them.
I recommend to optimize Meta keywords, just to indicate that the page is relevant, and will do so as long as Yandex does not confirm that it ignores Meta keywords the same way Google does.
As Yandex reported earlier this week, they changed their approach to creating page snippets. Before snippet headlines were selected based on what was included in the title tag. Now, if Yandex finds the information in your Title tag irrelevant (i.e. not containing the keywords relevant to the search query) the snippet will be constructed from Meta description and headings or other parts of text copy on the landing page.
This announcement received very mixed reactions from the Russian SEO community. According to one of the industry experts interviewed by SearchEngines.ru, most of the new snippets look pretty good, however for long tail queries they often make very little sense.
This change is very important as it directly affects one of the few means we’ve got for improving behavioral factors. The only tip here is to write good Titles and Meta description for all pages and constantly monitor what shows up in your snippets.