In one of my posts in the end of last year I was writing about social signals and Yandex SEO. Back then I said that social as such did not affect organic rankings, but I also mentioned that had a feeling that it was about to change. The step towards social was logical for a NASDAQ company, which Yandex is. Google and Bing use social signals in their search algorithm, and Yandex was bound to follow.
Some month ago Yandex started displaying links to social profiles in site snippets in their SERPs. Then it became obvious that something was about to happen, and indeed, just a month later Yandex announced Twitter integration and Search in social networks.
What Yandex social network search is really about
The service, so-called “People Search” went live on February 17. By then Yandex had indexed 250 million social profiles from all popular Russian social networks. Facebook, Twitter and Live Journal provide Yandex with data feeds to power “people search”. Odnoklassniki, vKontakte and Moi Mir @ Mail..ru do not provide the feeds and are being indexed by Yandex bots (hence the information is not updated as quickly as in case with dedicated feeds).
The search algorithm for social profiles in not exactly sophisticated: right now the profiles that have most information rank higher. There is no regional influence in the current version of the algorithm, meaning that, unlike web search, the SERPs will be the same for users in any place in our outside Russia. The parameters for social profile search currently are: name, city, age, education, work.
Let’s try to find Nina Ivanova (a very common Russian name), who lives in Moscow and studies at Moscow State University:
Yandex People Search found 2 profiles matching the parameters: one in Odnoklassniki and one vKontakte.
Searching for my name, I managed to locate my profiles on Twitter and Google+ (the first two results are not me!). It seems like People Search does not take in LinkedIn data, otherwise my profile would have shown up as well, since it is also public.
According to Ilya Segalovich (Yandex CTO), about 4% of all search queries in Yandex are people’s names (or 2% excluding celebrities – which is 2 million per day!).
Having social network search in Russia totally makes sense: while in most Western countries pretty much anyone can be found on Facebook, in Russia there are several popular networks, which makes it more difficult to find and connect with people.
How will this affect Yandex SEO?
Obviously, the data from social networks is extremely valuable, and once getting hold of it, Yandex will use it to its maximum potential.
In his recent interview to Lenta.ru Ilya Segalovich said that social products will appear in Yandex News (similar to Google News service). He also noted that if the information is “liked” and shared, that means it is important, and this gives the whole new way of looking at it (read the new way of ranking it).
Reading the interview, I got a general impression that social signals will mainly be used in ranking fresh content (breaking news, current events etc.). “7-15% of all searches in Yandex are related to fresh information, and more than half of them are somehow affected by social signals,” said Segalovich, and added that a lot of content is produced around the web every minute, but not all of it is interesting to the society. By incorporating social signals Yandex should be able to determine which content people like and want to see, and rank it accordingly.
The pressure is on! SEO-optimized content will no longer be enough for traffic generation. Or what do you think?