Differences between Google and Yandex in terms of website optimization

Anastasia Kurmakaeva

Written by Anastasia Kurmakaeva

Google’s and Yandex’s algorithms share many similarities in their operation with respect to the predilection for displaying pages in their search results that are considered of higher quality and interest to the user. Both are continuously working to fight against content over-optimization, Blackhat SEO and other negative positioning techniques aimed at deceiving search engines.

But what interests us in this article is to explore the main differences between Google and Yandex when it comes to optimizing our Web site, especially if we are thinking of carrying out an international positioning campaign. Depending on our target audience, we can give preference to one or the other; or try to please both, a task that can give us a bit of a headache. It can happen that a page that appears among the first results in Google for certain criteria, is far from being detected by the Russian search engine as relevant, something that we had already mentioned superficially in the previous article on Yandex SEO tools. Therefore, it is important to have defined in our minds the details and the small disparities that we will find between these two search engines.

Domain name

Let’s start with the domain. For Google, the fact that a domain begins with a keyword or that it appears in the domain continues to be a factor that brings relevance to our site. Yandex, on the other hand, will not react to the name you choose to register your domain name with in any way. However, it attaches great importance to country-code domains: especially if the query is made from a point within the Russian Federation area. In this case, you can be sure that domains with the .ru extension will get the first results (if they are relevant to the user’s search, of course).

Keyword content and density

Yandex attaches great importance to original and quality content in determining a website's ranking.Yandex is extremely strict with the quality and originality of the content, but not with its size. Moreover, a correctly optimized text between 400 and 600 words is ideal, and is undoubtedly better valued than posts of thousands of words. Regarding keyword usage, Yandex does not like it when a website’s texts are over-optimized: limit yourself to 3-5% keyword density max. within the texts, and be very careful with the keyword stuffingIf you go over 6-8%, you could face serious consequences in the ranking of your website. Contents copied and pasted from other websites, poorly translated, or those that bear a strong resemblance to those of other pages will not be indexed. To check the percentage of keyword density on your web page or specific text, you can use this simple tool.

The quality and originality of the content is one of the most important aspects for Yandex when determining the ranking of a website.

The age of the site

Yandex begins to take into account the age of a portal from only one year from the date of creation of the first page, while Google gives more preference to those who have 2 years or more. Thus, we can conclude that both search engines are more likely to show in their search results those websites that are older, with Yandex being more benevolent in its criteria for considering sites as “old” faster.

Titles and descriptions

It is true that a good title is absolutely key for both search engines, Yandex still attaches some importance also to the use of the keyword in the meta-description fieldTherefore, it is recommended to apply a minimum of effort to your wording in order to include the keyword in this field.

The Yandex algorithm still uses the meta description field for the calculation of the relevance of a website.

Indexing speed

Unlike Google spiders that are constantly crawling and indexing pages, Yandex can be much slower in this process, taking weeks or even months for static pages. However, it is also worth noting that if our site takes too long to be indexed correctly by Yandex, it never hurts to check that we have “notified” the search engine of its existence through the Yandex.Webmaster tool.


It is important not to over-optimize anchor texts to avoid Yandex penalties.Properly planned internal links are well liked by Google, but Yandex couldn’t be more indifferent to them. As for the links that bring us visits from other web portals, i.e. external, it is important to choose carefully from where we link and not overoptimize the anchor texts. These two aspects are very important, as they are particularly subject to severe penalties since the release of Yandex’s latest algorithm update, Minusinsk.

Traffic quality and bounce rate

Yandex does not distinguish between portals with a lot of traffic and those with almost no traffic. That is, if your portal is relevant according to their criteria, you will appear at the top of the results (and, consequently, you will gain more organic traffic). Yandex is also much more sympathetic to bounce rates, and does not go on alert until the portal reaches a 90-95% bounce rate. Google, on the other hand, may consider your website as uninteresting as early as 75%.

Penalties and blacklisting

Google is much more lenient with penalties once a website has been corrected in the features considered negative by its algorithm. In the case of Yandex, on the other hand, once a website has been blacklisted, it is a mark that it is likely to carry for a very long time. We must be careful with the measures we take in our SEO strategy to keep the Yandex algorithm happy with our site.

In conclusion, finding an optimization balance between the two search engines is possible, although it may sometimes seem like a bit of a puzzle. If you intend to internationalize your portal to the Russian market soon, with this article you already have a few key points to take into account as a starting point.


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Anastasia Kurmakaeva
Anastasia Kurmakaeva
Former SEO consultant and translator at Human Level. She is a specialist in translation and SEO, with a special focus on the Yandex search engine. She is fluent in Russian, Spanish and English, being fully bilingual in the first two.

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