SEO and SEM for Russian search engines

How To Configure Regional Settings For Yandex SEO

Everyone knows that Russia is a very big country. Not everyone knows, however, that Yandex has a very advanced local search technology that is able to deliver local SERPs to all 83 regions of the country.

Yandex started actively working with local search results in 2008-2009 and has been perfecting the formula ever since. In the past I wrote several posts about regional SERPs and how to change the regional affinity in Yandex Webmaster, but haven’t really touched the topic of how to correctly configure regional settings for Yandex SEO from the beginning. This is what this post is about.

Regional settings are important if you work with so-called “geo-dependent” search queries, such as “Italian restaurant”, “flower delivery” and other product and service that can be purchased locally. If you are dealing with geo-independent queries, for example “online games” or “pasta recipes”, no need to worry about regional affinity at all.

According to Yandex’s own recommendations (in Russian) on how to deal with regional settings for websites, the basic actions for the site owner should be:

1.  Provide full company address, including post code, and contact phone numbers, including area code for the relevant region, on the website.

2. Assign the relevant region via Yandex Webmaster and Yandex Spravochnik (Yandex’s product similar to Google Places).

3. If a business operates in several regions, provide full contact information for all regional offices.

Although Yandex does not explicitly advises so, it is always good to submit a website to Yandex Catalog and assign relevant region there as well.

Multi-regional websites

Even though Yandex claims that it is possible to have several regions associated with one website, there seems to be a limit. For example, Yandex Catalog allows only 7 regions to be connected to one listing.

In cases when a company provides services in all (or a large number) of regions, the most common practice is to create directories, subdomains or even separate websites for each of them.

The procedure for assigning region to each directory or subdomain is the same as described above.

Here are some good examples of how large websites handle their regional-specific sections:

1. Region-specific directories

2. Region-specific subdomains


Yandex SEO strategies for multi-regional websites

1. Content

Be as local as possible. Write region-centered content, for example, use “restaurants in Moscow” instead of just “restaurants” in your text copy, try to use local terminology, where applicable.

2. Domains and URLs

No matter how the regional sections are organized (directories, subdomains or separate domains), the name of the region should be present and prominent in the URL. This will help Yandex to classify the site correctly.

Russians often use abbreviations for region/ city names such as “spb” for St. Petersburg, “msk” for Moscow, “nsk” for Novosibirsk. It is fine to use them in directory / domain names; Yandex will understand the meaning.

Good examples: for targeting Krasnoyarsk for targeting Ekaterinburg for targeting Tomsk

Bad example: for targeting Vladivostok

3. Links

Local links are very important when it comes to ranking in regional SERPs. Make sure to register the company in local directories, and make sure than all incoming links you acquire have the right regional affinity.

4. Moscow

The capital is the toughest region for Yandex SEO. Depending on keyword difficulty, you might even want to assign region Moscow to your homepage to be able to match the competition.

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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10 Responses to “How To Configure Regional Settings For Yandex SEO”

  1. […] How To Configure Regional Settings For Yandex SEO, […]

  2. Andrew says:

    Hi Anna & all,

    First of all – thanks for the thorough and useful post!

    I have a question regarding geo-targeting which I hope you can help me with: I have assigned the region “Russia” for a website at Yandex WMT a couple of days ago (the site is mostly oriented to the Russian market) and provided the relevant URL which indicates the association of the site to the Russian market. Now the geo-targeting page for this website has the comment “You set the region as “Russia”. Awaiting moderation” for the last 2 days. I translated Yandex’ help page about geo-targeting and noted it says something about the moderation process can take up to a week to finish, but I’m not sure if the translation is 100% accurate (and unfortunately I don’t speak Russian…).

    Can you kindly advise if it’s normal for this process to take a few days/a week to complete? Or maybe it is an indication that my manual configuration has been rejected?

    Many thanks in Advance,

  3. Anna says:

    Hi Andrew,

    The review process takes up to a week, that’s right. Hope it goes well for you!

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for the input :)

    The message just changed to “You set the region as “Russia”. Changes will only take effect after the next update of the Yandex search database.” which is progress I guess, but the region is still mention as the domain’s TLD association. Is the message an indication that after the next crawl the geo-targeting will switch to Russia?

    Thanks again,

  5. Anna says:

    Hi again, Andrew,
    That’s awesome ) Then you are in. I am not sure what they mean by “update of the search database”, i.e. I don’t know if they are talking about re-crawling your site only, or about a bigger update. But you well get the correct region affinity soon enough, once they approved it.

  6. Andrew says:

    Great, thanks again Anna!

    I’ll follow-up and update once this is resolved, so it could help other novice Yandex users like myself.

    Best regards,

  7. Andrew says:

    Settings just changed to Russia, thanks Anna!

  8. […] though, they seem to have a fairly sophisticated local search capability. Here’s a decent English description of how it works. While I wouldn’t say it’s on a par with Google, by any means, […]