Best Practices for Russian Search Advertising: Keyword Creation

In the interest of helping advertisers get started in Russia we are introducing the first of a 3 part series on Best Practices for Russian Search Advertising.  In this first edition we will concentrate on keyword creation and how best to utilize Yandex.Wordstat (Yandex’s keyword tool) to analyze the potential performance of your target keywords.  This tool is very similar to other keyword tools on the market but it is powered by Yandex’s vast flow of searches in Russian and has over twice the data of the nearest competitor.  This makes it more accurate and more powerful than any other potential tool.  It is available with an English language interface which makes it much easier for non-Russian speakers to navigate.

The Russian Language is Complicated

The Russian language is so complicated that we couldn’t even find an image with correct translations for the blog but since it proves our point, we kept it. Among a few other issues, technically the Russians word for “bye” in the image is missing a preposition that makes the actual phrase translate to “until we meet again.”  Right now the Russians word next to bye in the image actually just says “date/appointment.”

As Ann Smarty posted on Twitter not very long ago (and we have discussed before), the Russian language is very complicated.  Ann vividly demonstrates below, the various cases, compositions and genders of the Russian language create situations where 3 simple words in English (“Run”, “Ran” and “Running”)…are over 100 in Russian.  This complexity is inherently understood by Yandex because it was natively built to understand the Russian language.  Other search engines have to adapt from their native English understanding to understand Russian and they just don’t perform as well.

Ann Smarty

Cyrillic makes it even more Complicated

The second important element to remember is that a Russian searching for your products is likely using a Cyrillic keyboard.  This makes searching for English language brands (such as “Adidas”) difficult for them and they often transliterate (type in the Cyrillic alphabet to represent the phonetics of the English spelling) their searches, which results in “Адидас” being the search query rather than “Adidas”.  Yandex understands this issue natively and allows advertisers and searchers to expand and control their searches to include transliterated spelling.  The volumes of transliterated searches can be significant depending on the category and exact brand being searched.  Adidas, for example is searched twice as often by Russian users in its the transliterated form rather than its true English brand name:

Adidas Transliterated

In addition, this transliteration can cause quite a few spelling mistakes as you might imagine.  Over 30% of searches on Yandex can be misspelled in a variety of ways.  Including these misspellings in your keyword creation is required to reach the entire audience searching for your products.

And Russians then add their own complication

The third essential aspect of keyword creation for a western advertiser is to understand that Russians often mix their English and Russian when searching online.  The graph below shows common fashion brands and the searches related to them.  You can see even within the fashion category that search behavior differs tremendously by brand in terms of the language used.  The brands on the left side of the graph tend to be predominately searched for in English; while the ones on the right side are searched predominately in Russian.  Since there is enough search volume in both English and Russian, you need to cover both languages.

Russian vs English Language Searches

To make matters even more complicated, searches are done in mixed languages within one query.  You can’t assume that someone using English will only use English in their entire query.  They often switch between languages within one query which makes things much more complicated.  As you can see below in data from Yandex.Wordstat, in queries containing “Adidas,” the user often switches to Russian for the remainder of the query (adding constraints such as “site”, shoes”, etc).   Yandex handles much of this natively but other search engines do not.


Use the best tools to get the best results

Yandex.Wordstat provides an easy and free way to start understanding keyword searches in Russian.  Combine Yandex.Wordstat with a native Russian speaker and you are well on your way to success in the Russian market.  We strongly recommend you don’t use machine translation tools as this has generated many humorous (but not very effective) outcomes for many of our clients.  Our team of bilingual account managers can also help to get you started by providing all of your keyword creation and localization support for medium and large clients for free.  Contact us today if you are interested in getting started!