The world of SEO is constantly evolving, and the recent Yandex leak has revealed some of the most important secrets of the search engine.
On January 27, 2023, popular search engine Yandex suffered one of the most significant data leaks in modern tech history, leaving top SEO experts worldwide scrambling to understand what it means for their strategies.
This comprehensive guide will explore the implications of the Yandex leak and how it can help you optimize your SEO efforts.
So, if you're ready to take your SEO game to the next level, read on to find out what the Yandex leak means for SEO professionals like yourself.
Explanation of the Recent Data Leak From Yandex
The recent data leak from Yandex, a Russian tech giant, has sent worldwide shockwaves across the SEO community.
On January 27, 2023, a former employee allegedly leaked a Yandex source code repository, part of which contained more than 1,922 factors used by the search engine for ranking websites in search results. This 44GB of leaked data included information about several Yandex products, including Search, Maps, Mail, Metrika, Disc, and Cloud.
The cause of the data leak is believed to be politically motivated and the actions of a rogue employee, and it was leaked as a Torrent on the Breached online forum.
Yandex stated that the archive's contents correspond to an outdated repository version and found no evidence that users' personal information had been impacted. However, the code did contain the contact details of some of its partners.
The data leak has revealed 1,922 ranking factors Yandex used in its search algorithm, at least as of July 2022. It also contained racist language, which Yandex has since apologized for.
Yandex is the search engine with the majority of market share in Russia and the fourth-largest search engine in the world. It is specifically designed for the Russian language and can interpret the language and provide relevant search results in a way that Google can't.
Major SEO Highlights of the Yandex’s Leaked Source Code
The data spillage brought to light a mixture of code snippets, some of which were relics of the past and had long been upgraded or were mere experiments during internal trials.
Some of the code was crafted by former Yandex developers who have since moved on, with them claiming the code is no longer functional.
However, amidst the jumbled code, some pieces still held value and shed light on the art of search engine optimization. These insightful fragments exposed the ranking factors, complete with assigned coefficients, determining a website's position in search results.
Malte Landwehr discovered that user signals were at the forefront of Yandex's ranking factors, accounting for 19% of the factors considered, followed by links and content relevance, each contributing 6%.
Let's delve deeper into these ranking factors that made the most significant impact, as indicated by the coefficients of the highest magnitude.
1. Top-level domain
According to the Yandex data leaks, websites with a .com extension receive a substantial boost in their ranking factor.
The impact of other domain extensions, such as .org, .net, etc., on SEO, remains uncertain and open to speculation, as some may receive a similar boost or none.
Opinions among SEO experts are divided on the significance of top-level domains for Google's SEO performance.
Nevertheless, the majority believe that a ‘dot com’ is the preferred domain extension for most sites due to the trust it evokes in users and the possibility of a business expanding globally in the future.
2. How Fresh is Your Content?
Yandex places a premium on up-to-date content and offers incentives for staying current. As content grows older, its rewards diminish, and any material over ten years of age is no longer favored.
Pages needing metadata indicating their age will also miss out on the positive rewards.
Recent content is more likely to sync with the current scenario and provide users with more relevant information, thereby improving their experience.
To avoid penalties for outdated content, conduct a revamp of your site. Upgrade your sources, rectify inaccuracies, and include current happenings.
This enhances your website's user experience and boosts your SEO performance.
3. Quality of Backlinks
Yandex leak found that two ranking factors pertain to a website's backlink profile - one that penalizes sites for links from low-quality domains and one that rewards sites for links from high-quality domains.
Thus, if a site has a more significant number of backlinks from reputable websites, it will positively impact its ranking factor.
However, the criteria used to distinguish between good and bad quality websites still needs to be solved. It could be linked to their page rank system or a separate signal.
To avoid potential risks, securing backlinks from high-traffic domains with commendable page scores is advisable, as indicated by effective SEO tools.
4. Running Ads on Yandex
The notion that businesses utilizing Google Ads receive an enhanced ranking on Google's SERPs has been circulating for a while. However, this theory has yet to be substantiated, and Google denies it, as they don't want to give the impression that SEO success can be bought.
But, as it turns out, this notion holds true for Yandex.
Yandex's algorithm includes a coefficient that boosts a favorable ranking for sites running ads on the platform. It's worth noting that sites not advertising on Yandex are not penalized.
As for Google, that remains to be seen.
However, it is possible to observe improvements in your SEO by investing in Google Ads. Running PPC campaigns can increase relevant traffic to your site, potentially elevating your SEO performance if your site features helpful content and a good user experience.
5. On-page Advertising
According to Yandex leaks, a website flooded with advertisements can negatively impact its search engine ranking. This refers to banner and sidebar ads, not sponsored links or paid posts.
These types of ads detract from the content and appear spammy, causing a poor user experience.
For a while, SEO experts have known that too many ads can harm the user experience and have created guidelines to balance the presence of ads with a positive user experience.
Therefore, Yandex prioritizes websites with good user experience, so this Yandex ranking factor can likely be applied to Google's algorithm.
10 Valuable Lessons SEO folks Can Learn About Google From The Yandex Leak
The recent Yandex code leak has been a hot topic of discussion in the SEO community. This data can be used to gain insights into how Yandex works and compares to Google.
Here are ten valuable lessons that SEO professionals can learn from the Yandex leak about Google.
1. Relevance is Key
According to the Yandex documents, relevance is one of the most critical factors in ranking a page. This is true for Google as well. Relevance can be defined as the degree to which a page's content matches the search query.
2. Freshness Matters
The Yandex documents also emphasized the importance of fresh content. This means that search engines prioritize pages that have been recently updated or published. Google also considers freshness when ranking pages.
3. User Experience is Vital
Search engines prioritize pages that provide an excellent user experience. This includes factors such as page speed, mobile responsiveness, and user engagement. Google has explicitly stated that it considers user experience when ranking pages.
4. Content Quality Matters
Yandex also revealed that they prioritize pages with high-quality content. This means that pages with well-written, informative, and relevant content are more likely to rank well. Google's algorithms also prioritize high-quality content.
5. Links are Still Important
The Yandex leak also revealed that links are still critical in ranking a page. High-quality, relevant, and natural links from reputable sources can improve a page's search engine ranking. Google also places a lot of emphasis on backlinks.
6. Keyword Stuffing is a Bad Idea
The Yandex documents specifically mentioned that keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO technique that can harm a page's ranking. Google's algorithms can detect keyword stuffing, and it can result in a penalty or lower ranking.
7. Black Hat Techniques are a No-Go
Yandex's documents also stated that black hat SEO techniques such as cloaking, hidden text, and link schemes are against their search quality evaluation criteria. These techniques can result in penalties or even a ban from search engines. Google has similar policies against black hat SEO.
8. Reputation Matters
Yandex also mentioned that a page's reputation and authority are factors in ranking. Pages with a positive online reputation and authority are likelier to rank well. Google also considers reputation and authority in its algorithms.
9. Social Signals Can Help
The Yandex documents revealed that social signals such as likes, shares, and comments can influence a page's search engine ranking. Google also considers social signals when ranking pages.
10. Personalization is Increasingly Important
The Yandex leak revealed that personalization is becoming an increasingly important factor in ranking pages. Personalization means search engines provide results based on the user's search history, location, and other factors. Google also uses personalization in its search results.
By applying these lessons, SEO professionals can improve their strategies and achieve higher search engine rankings.
The Yandex source code leak has been a significant event in the SEO world, providing us with an unprecedented opportunity to gain insight into the inner workings of a major search engine.
We have seen that Yandex's list of ranking factors is significantly smaller than what we would expect from Google, but this doesn't mean that the factors used by Yandex are any less critical.
The leak has revealed some interesting and unexpected ranking factors that could give SEO professionals an advantage when optimizing their content for Yandex. These include click-through rate (CTR), dwell time, bookmarking, and user behavior.
The leak may also provide new opportunities for spammers to exploit these systems. As SEO professionals, it is essential to stay vigilant and focus on ethical optimization techniques.