Search Engine Marketing in Russia: Google vs. Yandex

photoxpress yandex 468 Search Engine Marketing in Russia: Google vs. Yandex

Yandex vs. Google (Source:

Google’s presence online is so prevalent that the company’s name has become a household synonym for ‘search’. Yet, in some parts of the world, it is not the top search engine. In Russia, that accolade goes to the Moscowbased internet company, Yandex. As well as having some 60% of the Russian market, Yandex is the fourth largest search engine in the world. Although Google is the biggest search engine across the globe, it has only 26% of the Russianspeaking market. (Source: ComScore,

Yandex has an advantage over Google in that it focuses and is able on Russian users. The search engine understands the Russian language and its syntax and is able to filter results according to the type of query entered. There is an English version of Yandex, as well as localised versions in countries such as Turkey, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Both Google and Yandex offer the possibility for online advertising directly in their own search results. The handling and creation of these ads and the algorithm are completely different.

I have been working in Search Eninge Marketing for almost six years now and I primarily use Google for my marketing activities because of its aforementioned prevalence. Although Google has the minority share of the Russian market, one can still get great and relatively cheap traffic, not only directly in the the search engine listings, but also in the Google Display Network (GDN).

As Yandex is the most used search engine in Russia, it is of course important to take this search engine into consideration if one wants to be present in the Russian market. In the following I would like to present some differences between Google and Yandex advertising.

Grouping of keywords and text ads

One of the main differences is the way the campaigns are structured. The keywords are grouped in a Text ad in Yandex and in an Adgroup in Google. The main advantage of the Google Adgroups is that one may use several Text ads within a certain number of grouped keywords. In Yandex one can only run one ad with the grouped keywords.

Structure of campaigns and ads:

Characteristics Google Yandex
Number of campaigns 10.000 active or paused
1.000 active or paused
campaigns or 3.000 including
archived campaigns
Number of characters in Title 25 33
Number of characters in
description line(s)
2 x 35 75
Ads per campaign 20.000 Adgroups with 50 ads
1.000 active or paused
Negative Keywords On Adgroup and Campaign
Only Ad level


One has to use Yandex units for bidding in Yandex. One unit is 30 RUB, so one has always to calculate the current CPC levels. In addition to that the units are stored as credits on the campaign level. It’s very laborious and old fashioned in my view. Fortunately, one can gets around this by creating an extra campaign which automatically distributes the units into all campaigns. In Google you can see the CPCs directly and you are able to set daily budget levels on a campaign level. The budget is directly managed within your account, so one won’t runs out of budget if one forgets to put the units into your campaigns.

Positioning of ads

Yandex has changed the positioning of ads displayed in the search engine. Currently they show only ads on the top of the natural listings and on the bottom of the site. The right side is now completely ad free. The positive effect is that the CTRs work better when one is in the top positions, but if you don’t bid too high, you will actually be below the fold and it will be hard to get relevant traffic without raising the bids. In my opinion Google has a better approach. The ads are not only displayed in the top rankings above the natural search results but also on the right and that’s why you have the chance to get more traffic with low CPCs.

Keyword options

The idea of the keyword types also varies between both search engines. In Yandex you have only exact and broad match. Google has four active keyword types: exact, phrase, broad modifier and broad. An advantage that you have with Yandex is that you can combine the two different keyword types. In Google you are only able to combine broad match modifier keywords with broad. But actually it doesn’t matter, because one can usually setup all types of keyword options in a Google setup.


The reporting and statistic overview in Yandex is also very antiquated. One is not able to see directly the performance of each campaign or keyword with a few clicks. Google is much more convenient. One can easily check the performance of every level with only a few clicks.


In my opinion Google takes better care of their search engine advertisers. They always have new advertising possibilities, e.g. ad extensions like Sitelinks, Communication Ads, App extensions, Click to call extensions etc.n. Both search engines have tools for creating and managing campaigns offline Google has the Google AdWords Editor and the equivalent in Yandex is the Yandex Direct Commander. Yandex tool has been supporting English and has had the Adgroup functionality since the latest update on October 31st 2013. These are very important steps towards better usability within Yandex.

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