Having had time to explore, here are some of my observations on the new service.
Interesting Launch Strategy
As has been pointed out on both the English and Russian side, this was a strange launch. Perhaps this was due to their insistence that the new index was meant for Russian users. It was inevitable that that many would see this launch as a shot across the bow of the western search engines. Even the Russian press has referred to this as a competitive blow to Google.
It maybe the smart move though. Many welcome greater competition among search engines, especially with Google and over-hyping the alpha version at this point may encourage unfair comparisons and disappointment.
Surprisingly though, Yandex seems to have sailed through initial inspections. People like the clean interface and the spam-free results.
After a very brief play I’m incredibly impressed at the relative lack of spam and the quality of the results that are being returned. Not to mention the fact that there aren’t any ads.
…I’ve not had a chance to dig very deep but a first glance at the results would seem to suggest they are either taking a more aggressive approach to finding and banning paid links that Google is or they are better at removing spam from their index
Well first, there is no way Yandex would go forward ad-free. Their contextual advertising system Yandex Direct is well developed. They fully understand the importance of PPC in their business model.
There is an obvious reason Yandex.com is not running advertising. Yandex Direct works in Russian, both the interface and the PPC adverts. They are not in a position to place non-Russian language adverts on Yandex.com yet.
The second issue Duncan raised also caught my attention. Paid links are endemic within Russian online marketing. I was skeptical that Yandex could have taken such a huge step. However, on reflection, there could be some truth in this…
New Index, New Rules
This is not the first time we have seen English language results at Yandex. In 2008, they started selecting popular or authoritative English, French or German sites for inclusion in their index. If you go to Yandex.ru and search in English, you will see English language results.
However at the top of the Russian SERPs, you now have three links.
Users can choose to switch between all results, Russian results and now global or world results. Of course the global or world results are the ones shown at Yandex.com. English searches between the two give very different results. Take for example the search for “Compare credit cards” all results vs. global results.
It is also clear that Yandex has just dramatically increased their index of non-Russian sites. I’m seeing small sites with no links appearing in the new index. They have even managed to index the new sub-domain for my daughter, launched a couple of weeks ago. There is obviously more going on now than simply filtering by popularity or authority – my apologies to you Duncan.
Could they have implemented some new filters, specifically for the global index? Why not. They would have more scope to do this with “whitehat” western brand-sites without fear of loosing relevancy. Yandex.com could actually be their testing ground for new, stronger spam filters.
Like Duncan, I’m making Yandex.com my default search. These are interesting times for a competitive search engine market, even John Andrews must be getting a little excited. We may have a new casino in town.