Today, Yandex launched their long-awaited global search engine, Yandex.com. They have now moved from being a Russian-only service to a global search player, competing in several country-markets.
The key issue is that Russians use Yandex for Russian searches but Google for international or English language searches. As a stop-gap measure Yandex placed links to other engines on the bottom of their pages, clearly more was needed to retain this traffic.
Yandex started building an index in languages other than Russian, first English German, French and Ukrainian. This has been widened now to 17 languages – Belorussian, Kazakh, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Bulgarian, Tatar, Czech, Polish, Romanian and Catalan.
Yandex are keen to stress this new service is testing new algorithms for global search and not pitched at one particular audience, i.e. Europe or America. They admit that there will always be competition between search engines where they operate. For today [my emphasis] these are Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
It’s hard not to see this as a threat to other search engines. ComScore rated Yandex the fastest growing search engine this year. In July 2009 they were recorded as having 1.2 billion searches. Tiny compared to Google with 76 billion, but greater than AOL (1 billion), Facebook (879m) and equal to Ask (1.2 billion).
Comparing them to other “Google-killers” such as the infamous Cuil.com, it’s hard not to get excited about their chances. This isn’t a start-up but an established company with a substantial technological and financial base to work from. In the Russian market they have not only fought off Google but increased market share over the last 3 years.
The information on Yandex.com and their choice of English logo does little to dispel rumours of ambitions beyond Russia and its neighbouring countries.
Our major goal is to provide answers to any questions our users may have. Yandex.com is the answer for anyone searching for relevant information in one of the European languages.
This is clearly a shot over the bow of Google. And yes, they should be worried.
Update: Exploring the New Yandex Index