Search engines take into account a variety of elements when determining the rankings of websites in search engine results pages (SERPs). These criteria are continuously revised and may differ among search engines, posing a challenge for digital marketers and website proprietors to keep up with the most recent algorithm modifications.
The tricky aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) lies in the fact that the specific factors influencing rankings are not publicly disclosed. Given the constant evolution of search engine algorithms, identifying the currently prioritized factors can be a complex task.
Nonetheless, on January 27, 2023, the SEO community received a jolt when significant ranking factors of the fourth-largest global search engine were made public.
What is the Yandex Data Leak?
Yandex, a multinational technology company headquartered in Russia, experienced a substantial data breach that exposed source code for numerous apps and services provided by the company. Approximately 45 gigabytes of source code files, apparently taken in July 2022 and dating back to February 2022, were purportedly appropriated by a former employee and distributed as a torrent file. The Yandex leak discloses about 1,922 ranking factors employed in Yandex content algorithms.
Many of Yandex’s ranking factors align with expectations, including:
- Signals from user behavior
- Relevance of text
- Freshness and age of content
- Reliability of hosting
- Some websites like Wikipedia receive preference
Out of the 1,922 ranking factors, 988 were discontinued, and 244 were classified as “unused.” Although 64% of the document is not actively employed, a review of these factors is essential to stay abreast of Yandex content algorithms.
Why Does the Yandex Leak Matter for Your Google SEO Content Strategy?
Yandex and Google are fundamentally distinct search engines. Therefore, a signal deemed significant by Yandex may not carry the same weight in Google’s algorithm. Yandex has even publicly stated that the leaked code base represents an outdated version of their repository.
That said, many of these ranking factors may bear similarities to signals used by Google’s algorithm. Thus, examining the leaked source code could offer valuable insights into how search engines operate, for those seeking to fine-tune their content strategy for SEO and improve their rankings. Similarly, investing in content creation and local SEO services is imperative for businesses striving for enhanced performance in search results.
Top 11 Yandex SEO Ranking Factors
The Yandex ranking factors can be divided into three categories:
Static – Factors pertaining to your website, encompassing ad ratio, headers, inbound backlinks, and inbound internal links.
Dynamic factors – Elements relating to both your website and the search query, such as text relevance and inclusion of keywords.
User search-related factors – Aspects directly linked to the user’s query, including their location, query language, and intent modifiers.
Out of the 1,922 ranking factors, 11 signals carry notable significance:
1. On-Page Advertising
The Yandex data leak indicates that an elevated proportion of ads relative to the visible screen negatively impacts rankings. Excessive ad placements can obstruct the primary content of the page and hinder page loading times. This can lead to subpar user experiences and adversely affect the page’s search ranking.
2. URL Structure
Yandex ranking factors also encompass how URLs are structured. Specifically, Yandex SEO guidelines emphasize:
- The presence of numbers in the URL
- The quantity of trailing slashes (“/”) in the URL
- The count of capital letters in the URL
The leaked Yandex code also underscores the importance of incorporating keywords into the URL. According to the leaked code, best practice involves including up to three words from the search query. It’s noteworthy that these URL ranking factors align with Google’s URL Structure guidelines.
3. Page-Level Factors
Yandex SEO considers significant page-level factors, including:
Freshness of content – This factor prioritizes recently updated or newer content, particularly for blogs and news sites. Content older than a decade is no longer favored, so it’s crucial to regularly refresh your content.
Diversity of traffic sources – Yandex favors pages with diverse traffic origins. Your page should attract a mix of paid, direct, and organic traffic.
Final destination – Yandex rewards pages that successfully conclude the user’s search, signifying content that provides users with the information they seek.
Content quality – Content must be original, informative, and free of keyword stuffing. Having your content cited or linked on external domains can also boost your ranking and refine your SEO content strategy.
4. Site-Level Factors
As per the Yandex data leak, the search engine favors well-established websites with a longer active presence and frequently updated content. The website’s overall quality is also assessed from a clickability standpoint. This pertains to how likely users are to click on a search result, depending on various factors like the page’s title, description, and URL. Additionally, Yandex shows preference for websites with .com domains.
5. Overall Page Quality
The quality of a webpage is gauged by metrics including:
- Actions performed on the page
- Time spent on the page
- Number of unique visitors
- Number of visits
6. User Engagement and Behavior
The leaked source code revealed a crucial insight: Yandex tends to favor pages featuring user reviews. Yandex also takes into consideration:
- Clicks and impressions
- Mobile-friendliness of the page
- User behavior on mobile devices (session duration and time spent on the page)
7. Hosting Rank and Location
The Yandex search algorithm gives precedence to content in close geographical proximity to the user. The search engine also places significant emphasis on crawl depth, which refers to how extensively a search engine indexes a website’s content. A website with a high crawl depth will have more pages indexed for search compared to a site with a low crawl depth. Therefore, crucial pages must be kept within two clicks from your homepage.
8. Backlink Quality
The Yandex search engine employs various techniques to penalize websites engaging in unscrupulous and manipulative linking practices. Yandex’s link algorithms gauge the proportion of hyperlinked text and evaluate the quality of links to a site. Websites with an abundance of paid or low-quality links face penalties.
9. Search Traffic
The Yandex search algorithm prioritizes websites optimized to fulfill the user’s search intent. This encompasses the use of pertinent keywords in the page’s content, title tag, and meta description.
10. Video Content
The Yandex search algorithm favors websites that incorporate video content. Additionally, pages hosting videos on Yandex tend to rank higher in search results. Standard metrics are applied to assess a page’s video content, such as the average watch time relative to the total duration of the video.
11. Wikipedia Pages
The leaked source code indicates a strong preference within the Yandex search engine for Wikipedia pages, often resulting in higher rankings.
How the Yandex Leak Influences SEO
Previously, SEO practitioners and digital marketers relied on testing to grasp how to elevate their content in SERP rankings. However, for the first time, there is an opportunity to delve into the inner workings of a major search engine.
Is it reasonable to assume that Google employs similar ranking factors? The Yandex source code unveiled numerous elements that parallel what Google has underscored for years, including keyword usage, backlinks, customer reviews, and user experience.
The reality remains that we can only speculate about Google’s ranking factors unless the company explicitly discloses them. Nevertheless, studying the source code may furnish SEO teams and digital marketers with an edge. The Yandex ranking factors can facilitate a reevaluation of your SEO content strategy and unveil new avenues to enhance your search visibility.
Yandex content algorithms are in a state of perpetual evolution, aiming to enhance the precision and trustworthiness of search outcomes. Adapting to the latest shifts in search engine algorithms is essential to ensure your content remains competitive in SERPs.
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