4 Steps to Yandex Keyword Success

Last week Russian Search Marketing published a blog about the recent important new tools from Yandex for expanding your keyword lists and assessing their success through the new keyword productivity index.  Before you let the auto-expand tool automatically add additional keywords to your campaign, definitely utilize the keyword productivity index and find out how well your keywords are doing.

Believe it or not, many advertisers ignore such useful insights and insist that strict translations of their English keywords intended for other search engines are the best way to go on Yandex.  While sometimes useful as a starting point, a unique effort needs to be applied to Yandex keywords lists to ensure optimal success.

Best practices in our experience, show that the use the Yandex.Direct tools combined with human assessment and opinion get you the clicks you want for a lower CPC. Trust me, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t something consistently observed by all of our Yandex account managers.

1. Create a new keyword list

Using your keyword lists from another language or another search engine is a great starting point. This list will help you set a basic template for your Yandex.Direct campaigns but it will not mean instant success. Yandex account managers appreciate keyword lists and use them as a jumping off point, but your list needs to be optimized for the Russian language and Yandex.Direct.  Direct translation, whether it is machine or human translated, is not encouraged due to the amount of inconsistencies, length of keywords, and just incorrect meaning that results.  You want your audience to think your company understands and appreciates the Russian language.  Of course there will be many basic words that translate correctly but for the most part it is better to be especially mindful of the language and to utilize a Russian PPC specialists or Yandex account manager (this is free!) to help create your keyword list.

2. Keep Your Keywords Short

According to recent Yandex research on search queries, the average length of Russian search queries are 3.5 to 4 words long.  The graph below shows users’ average length of queries from Moscow and St Petersburg along with cities with smaller populations.  The data shows that as the population of city decreases (and we can assume this is an area where Internet penetration is lower), the users use longer queries compared to users in cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg where there are more experienced Internet users.  More experienced Internet users know that Yandex will return search results relevant to their queries or when a specific question or longer query is necessary.  In addition, mobile search tends to be greater in larger cities which drives query length down.

Now 3 to 4 word queries seems pretty long compared to the average 2.4 word query in the US. This isn’t a language issue because in fact, most of the examples I could think to translate ended up being longer in English than Russian for a number of grammatical reasons like the verb “to be” not existing in Russian.  This seemed a little strange so I confirmed with Yandex research analysts how they went about this research.  I learned that the length of these queries includes when a user selects the auto suggestion that Yandex provides while a user is entering a query. This assessment likely drove the average to be a bit higher than what users usually enter.  Let this blog set the record straight that super long keywords are not in your best interest.

Yandex search query length


Still, RuNet users from smaller cities tend to type very specific questions.  Whereas, users in major cities tend to ask less questions and simplify their searches to the specific keywords they are searching. For instance, users is smaller towns will more likely enter a query like [что делать чтобы компьютер не перегревался] how to stop a computer from overheating, instead of [греется компьютер] computer heats up.

On average, your keyword should not be longer than 2-3 words.  The forecast tool and the keyword productivity tool should indicate that longer keywords in our campaign are not going to perform very well.

3. Forecast & Review

The forecast tool in your Yandex.Direct interface is your friend. You should absolutely utilize the tool to get a good sense of which keywords will do well and which will underperform.  The forecast is based on competitors’ bids and the CTR in their campaigns. Forecasting will certainly give you very clear indications of words that could use some additional thought or are not worth your time all together.

In addition to the forecast tool, the new keyword productivity index also offers useful information for keyword adjustments.  A 0-10 score is assigned to each keyword based on relevancy of keyword to ad text, correct use of Yandex operators (match types), and search statistics for the keyword.  Take a look and test out the suggestions that Yandex offers for improving the keyword productivity.

keyword productivity2

4. Don’t overuse special operators

For advertisers on Yandex.Direct, the Yandex match types can be very useful in deciding how to properly adjust keywords.  However, overusing the operators can be a bit of a danger zone for advertisers who are unfamiliar with the Russian language because they tend to use operators incorrectly.  Unfortunately, if you’re using operators incorrectly, you will significantly reduce audience coverage.  Nobody wants that.

The most misused operator ” ” is Yandex’s version of phrase match.  When this operator is applied, search queries can only contain the specified keywords next to each other. No additional words or synonyms are allowed but the words can be in any order and include all forms of the words.  This is very different than phrase match on Google or Bing and we often see campaigns copied over into Yandex from other engines having this mistake.  As seen in the example below, this operator has to potential to dramatically reduce the amount of impressions for a given keyword.

Pronouns and prepositions, otherwise known as Yandex stop words, can be a bit tricky for users creating their Russian keyword lists.  Quite frequently, users similarly reduce the amount of potential impressions they get by overusing the + operator that fixes a preposition.  When the + operator is applied, the keyword must contain that preposition to appear when the query is typed.  Although useful in many cases for specifying locations or more specific queries, this can again reduce impressions.

Yandex operators examples

Most importantly, don’t ignore step one when creating your keywords.  You will end up making more work for yourself while managing your campaigns.  Reevaluating your keywords through the Yandex forecasting and productivity tools will help you weed out any keywords that are negatively contributing to your campaigns.