Mobile site optimisation for Yandex: the Vladivostok algorithm is here

Anastasia Kurmakaeva

Written by Anastasia Kurmakaeva

On Tuesday, 2 February, the Yandex company announced on its corporate blog the roll-out of the new algorithm called Vladivostok, which was set to immediately affect all rankings in search results within the Russian Federation. The reason why Yandex’s developers chose this city’s name for the new update is because the Eastern-most side of Russia is the region where mobile Internet browsing is widely used.

How the Vladivostok algorithm affects mobile rankings

Officially, from now on, and following in Google’s steps, the Yandex bot will regard more positively mobile-friendly websites, giving them preference and better positions in the search results, than websites, which do not provide this option. Evidently, this doesn’t mean that non mobile-ready websites will stop appearing in the results. However, they will be given less priority by the Russian search engine. From now on, providing a design adapted to mobile devices is one of the many rankings factors (over 800) that Yandex takes into account to calculate the relevance of a website.

Yandex takes into account more than 800 ranking factors to calculate the relevance of a website, among which we now also have providing a mobile-friendly version.

We’ve seen this algorithm update coming already in November 2015, when Yandex announced that they were going to start displaying a small “Mobile version” tag next to pages providing this option for the users, at the 4th edition of their event for webmasters.

Yandex lets users know in its search results when a website is mobile-friendly.

Consequently, the new Yandex Webmaster BETA version also introduced a new feature, which provided developers the possibility of validating the responsiveness of their website for mobile devices. This quick check is capable of detecting in just a few minutes whether your website is mobile-ready or not, thoroughly detailing whether there are elements preventing users from viewing it correctly.

We’ve tested‘s home page, and this is what the tool shows when everything is correct and the website has passed its tests:

Yandex mobile test

Google has two similar tools, its mobile-friendly test and PageSpeed Insights, which validate the same indicators, amongst many others.

Keep in mind that, to use the Yandex testing tool, you’ll need to have permission to access this data on Yandex Webmaster for a particular website. Google, on the other hand, allows you to check this for any website you want.

For the time being, Yandex’s mobile readiness check is focussed on users who are searching from their smartphones, but the team is also working on implementing this update on tablets and other similar devices. Over the following months, the update is set to roll-out in other countries where Yandex is also extensively used: Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.

To be one step ahead of the Russian search engine, and to avoid being caught by surprise with regard to the upcoming new additions it introduces, we are going to give you some recommendations on how to correctly optimise a mobile website for Yandex.

Only about 18% of the most-visited websites in Russia are currently mobile-friendly.

According to the first wave of tests conducted by Yandex experts, out of a million most-visited websites comprising the Runet, only 18% are using responsive design, so if we are currently ranking on the Russian market with our website, we still have some time to apply the recommendations.

Yandex’s recommendations for a mobile-friendly website

Adapt your content to fit the screen

That is, distribute the content in a way that it fits within the horizontal constraints of the user’s screen, so that they can only scroll up or down, and not left or right, in order to access the information, view a picture or read a text.

Yandex's recommendations for mobile-friendly websites

Websites implementing responsive design principles can use the viewport meta tag, in the following manner:

<meta name=»viewport» content=»width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

They also recommend using a link rel=”alternate” to indicate which pages have a mobile-specific version, for example:

<link rel=»alternate» media=»only screen and (max-width: 640px)» href=»»/>

Flash, Silverlight or Java Applets

We strongly recommend to avoid using this type of elements, because in the vast majority of cases, they are incompatible with mobile browsers. If you want to add interactive content, for example, namely videos, you can use HTML5, as it is compatible.

Font and image size

The font size should be easily readable on a mobile device, without the user having to strain their eyes to see what’s written. Images also should not exceed the horizontal constrains of the screen.

Autor: Anastasia
International SEO consultant and translator at the Human Level online marketing agency.

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