SEO and SEM for Russian search engines

Links stop working for Yandex SEO from today

Earlier today Yandex announced [in Russian] that links have been removed from their ranking algorithm for certain categories of queries.

The new search algorithm was first announced at IBC Russia by Alexander Sadovsky, Head of Search at Yandex, back in December. Some weeks ago Yandex confirmed than the new ranking formula would be released in February or March this year.

Today’s change will several verticals, such as:

  • Real estate
  • Travel
  • Home appliances
  • Clothes and accessories
  • Health and beauty
  • Legal services
  • SEO

The list of verticals was revealed earier today by Sadovsky himself at Bynet Week conference in Minsk, Belarus.


The next verticals in line are:

  • Auto
  • Car rental, taxi & logistics
  • Construction services
  • Industrian machinery
  • Furniture & windows
  • Finance
  • Insurance

For now links are not being counted for search results in Moscow region, but the new algorithm will spread to other regions during 2014.

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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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11 Responses to “Links stop working for Yandex SEO from today”

  1. Eric Lussier says:

    Thanks Anna.

    Do you have any thoughts about how this will play out and what factors will now be most heavily weighted? Do you expect there to immediately be a big shakeup in rankings?

  2. khalid irfan says:

    What will count the most in ranking factors on yandex if not links now? because ranking on yandex was heavily dependent on links before.

  3. Kurt Vander Bogart says:

    Also, Thanks Anna,

    It seems that backlinks are slow moving lava in a fast IM / Social powered world. Yes, like Irfan, I’m wondering what signals replaced the backlinks, with suspense. Fascinating.

  4. […] MatrixNet algoritmu vyloučí část zpětných odkazů jako součást hodnocení. Na konferenci Bynet Week v Minsku oznámil, jak přesně změna […]

  5. […] hat Yandex seine Drohung wahr gemacht: Ab Mittwoch werden Links in der Moskauer Region nicht mehr als Ranking-Kriterium herangezogen. Die […]

  6. […] that day has come and Yandex announced in the Yandex Forums (Russian but I spotted it over here) that the change went live this week. It is live in the Moscow region and impacts only commercial […]

  7. Anna Oshkalo says:

    Hi Eric! Now it’s been a couple of days, and from what I can see, no significant changes happened for big brands.

    The 12th of March update for commercial queries affected about 20% of the search results (, but since it was only half of the verticals involved, the changes are probably noticeable. This said, when looking at visibility scores of top players in, say, travel, the leading sites are the same and nothing major seems to have happened to them (some slightly improved, some slightly decrease, but nothing huge in general: You probably have a better picture than me though :)

  8. Anna Oshkalo says:

    Hi Khalid, that’s a million dollar question :) As it looks so far, the big brands are not affected that much, but smaller sites that only relied on links and semi-decent content were. I am just speculating here, but I think links are still important for overall domain authority, however not as much for ranking for specific keywords. Also, Yandex say that they will pay much more attention to content and so-called behavioral factors (meaning metrics that describe how users interact with your site – bounce rate, CTR from the SERPs, time spent on site, etc.). IT will probably take the community a couple of months to test and to figure out what works best in the new SEO world.

  9. David Iwanow says:

    Wow Anna, that’s very interesting to hear it’s gone live already but also that it’s the big brands/sites that appear stable. I do wonder if Yandex.Browser data is being used to better understand user behaviour within these sites? So would that mean if your site had a higher percentage of users using Yandex.Browser that you may benefit if they have more accurate behavioural data?

  10. Anna Oshkalo says:

    Hi David,

    I don’t think traffic via Yandex.Browser per se will affect the rankings. Yandex has a lot of ways to collect this data, such as Yandex.Metrika, which is installed on most Russian sites, Yandex toolbar, which is pretty popular, and the browser of course. I presume it will be beneficial to share behavioral data with Yandex (if the metrics are good, that is).

  11. […] Links stop working for Yandex SEO from today In this article the author points out that Yandex started removing links from their ranking algorithm for certain categories of queries. So far links are not being counted for search results in Moscow region, but the change will spread to other regions during 2014. […]

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