SEO and SEM for Russian search engines

5 essential tools for Yandex PPC excellence

yandex-searchYandex PPC platform -Yandex.Direct – is quite straightforward and easy to learn, however challenges don’t stop there. Even after mastering the platform, PPC managers need to find a set of tools that help them in their daily work.

Russian market is known for having its own digital infrastructure (Yandex instead of Google, VK instead of Facebook, Yandex.Music instead of Spotify, you name it), and PPC tools are not an exception. Common tools like SemRush, Wordstream or SpyFu won’t help with running and optimizing your Yandex PPC campaigns.

Below is my must-have list of tools that I use daily when working on Yandex.Direct optimization. Have a look – hope these Russian PPC tools will help you too!


Direct.Commander is a desktop application provided by Yandex for managing Yandex.Direct campaigns offline and make changes in bulk.


Direct.Commander is an essential tool for Yandex PPC for many reasons – not only because it saves time when doing bulk adjustments, but also because ad groups can only be seen in Yandex.Commander, and not in Yandex.Direct web interface.



Yandex.Metrica is  free web analytics tool and a strong alternative to Google Analytics in the Russian market. Metrica is essential for Yandex PPC because of several reasons:

1. The only way to see conversion data in Yandex.Direct is by installing Yandex.Metrica and configuring goals. 

Yandex.Direct doesn’t do conversion pixel in the same way as Google or Bing – there is not conversion pixel that needs to be installed on the “Thank you” page and the only way to get conversions in the web interface of Yandex.Direct is by connecting it to Yandex.Metrica.



Once Yandex.Direct and Yandex.Metrica are connected, three additional columns will appear in Direct’s web interface displaying average number of page views, conversion rate and total number of conversions for each keyword.

2. Yandex.Metrica does auto-tagging for Yandex.Direct

Well, sort of. The connection happens automatically, and there is no need to enable auto-tagging anywhere or to tag destination URLs with utm parameters.

Another reason to use Metrica is that the web interface of Yandex.Direct does not provide convenient ways to view certain information, such as for example, search queries that trigger your ads. In Metrica accessing search query data for each ad / ad group is very easy.


Besides, not all search query data is available in Google Analytics or other web analytics tools. In June 2014 Yandex announced that they would be encrypting 100% of search queries to protect their users’ privacy. Today complete search query data for Yandex (incl.PPC) is only available through Yandex’s own tools – Yandex.Metrica and Yandex.Webmaster; in all other systems a large chunk of traffic shows up as (not set), which is not ideal for a PPC manager. You want to know what terms drive clicks that you pay for and hence Yandex.Metrica becomes a must for Yandex PPC optimization.


Wordstat by Yandex

Yandex.Wordstat is a free keyword tool provided by Yandex.


Although Wordstat does not give as extensive lists of keyword ideas as, for examples, Google’s keyword tool, it does provide real search volumes for all keywords as well as regional popularity and search trends.

Working with Yandex keyword tool can be time-consuming as it does not have an export function, however there is a Firefox plugin called Wordstat Helper that can be a real time-saver.


Yandex.Direct automated strategies

For those, who do not have enough time to manage bids daily, there are several automatic bidding strategies available in Yandex.Direct:

Average CPC

This strategy will optimize the bids in order to bring the maximum number of clicks for the average amount you are prepared to pay for a click.

Average Cost Per Action (CPA)

This strategy works similarly to conversion optimizer in AdWords, i.e. it optimizes the bidding to reach a target CPA. Yandex.Metrica is required for using this strategy.


Weekly budget: Maximum CTR

This strategy will optimize the bids in order to deliver the maximum number of clicks for the weekly budget by trying to maximize click-through rate of the campaign.

Weekly budget: Maximum conversion rate

This strategy will optimize the bidding in order to deliver the maximum amount of clicks for the keywords that bring the most conversions. Yandex.Metrica is required for using this strategy.

Weekly click package

This strategy will optimize the bide to deliver a specific number of clicks for as little as possible.



SpyWords is a competitive intelligence tool for the Russian market that resembles SEMRush in its early days. The tool provides competitive information for both Google and Yandex PPC as well as for organic search in both search engines.


For a Yandex PPC manager SpyWords will be very useful for monitoring competitors’ traffic and spend, their keywords and ad texts, as well as average positions and landing pages.

In one of my earlier posts I wrote a full review of the tool. Check it out to learn more.


Bonus tips

For larger advertisers, who are using or considering using one of the enterprise bid management solutions, could be interesting to know that Yandex.Direct is fully integrated with:

  • Adobe AdLense
  • Marin Software
  • IntelliAds
  • Refined Ads

For more information about managing Yandex PPC campaigns through bid managers see the article by Preston Carey on LinkedIn.

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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