Assessing Russian Keywords: Spelling & Grammar Errors

Russian language is extremely complicated.  From cases, gender, and verb conjugations in three different tenses, there is a lot to know. Similar to the way many of us turn to our local search engine to check on a grammar question, Russians do the same with leading search engine Yandex. Recently analysts at Yandex researched Russian language related search queries, revealing the most difficult aspects of Russian language. For those of you writing keyword lists, these results on the most common mistakes and grammar concerns of native Russian speakers provides insight into how locals are often searching with mistakes in their queries.

Similar to the way Google gives results for what the user intended, Yandex also makes these adjustments for organic results. When it comes to misspellings and search advertising, Yandex.Direct works a bit differently than Google Adwords.  In the Yandex.Direct interface, an advertiser must select “additional relevant phrases” for mispellings and other errors to trigger their ads. The option has three modes which all include misspellings.  If an advertiser doesn’t want their ads to show for additional phrases, the advertiser must also include misspellings in their keyword lists.  In certain vertical likes travel and retail, auto-expansion can also help with errors.

During the summer months users ask Yandex more than 3.8 million queries relating to correct Russian grammar. During the rest of the year, when busy at school and work, users ask more than 8.1 million  questions in this category per month.  Nearly three-quarters of these requests relate to spelling. Punctuation and style account for 8% and 7% of these queries, however, this does not mean that spelling is more difficult in generalBelow are five of the most complicated topics for Russian spelling and grammar according to Yandex data.

Russian keywords

Many queries also relate to proper comma use.  About a third of Yandex spelling and grammar queries about commas apply to introductory clauses and another third relate to punctuation in complex sentences.  Stylistic requests are mainly associated with the choice of one word over another: one of them may be incorrect in context and meaning or both can be used equally. Some problems that appear in these queries are often discussed. For example: [wore or was wearing]  [был надет или был одет], [is there the word to eat in Russian][есть ли слово кушать в русском языке], [in Ukraine or in (another format) the Ukraine] [в украине или на украине], [which is proper I‘m sorry or excuse me] [извиняюсь или извините как правильно], [theirs is there such a word][ихний есть ли такое слово].

There are actually far fewer common queries about rare Russian language exceptions and other cases that fall into a category of “annoying Russian language difficulties.”  For example, less than 2% of the queries focused on the use of the soft sign for reflexive verbs and less than 1% for the different forms of “also.”  The following shows some of the most common queries that fall into this category:

1. -тся и –ться (soft sign in reflexive verb ending)

2. тоже и также (two forms of “also”)

3. прийти или придти (correct verb forms for “to come”)

4. разница между надеть и одеть (different between “to wear” and “to dress”)

5. в течение и в течении (proper way to write “during”)

6. договоры или договора (contracts or contract)

7. извините или извените (correct verb forms for “excuse me”)

8. в общем, вообщем, вобщем и другие варианты (correct spelling of “in general”)

9. ударение в слове звонить (emphasis on the word “to call”)

10. существование слова ихний (existence of the word “theirs”)

These searches tell us a lot about mistakes Russians make when typing in their queries. For those searching for answers to improve their grammar, they are likely using this in other contexts like writing an essay or a work email. For those simply searching for something they need on Yandex, errors are likely not too important to users because they know Yandex will automatically return the best organic search results.  Unless advertisers have addresses these errors in one way or another, users will see fewer relevant ads when they make mistakes.

For advertisers who want to learn more about the errors that are relevant to their keywords, there are two useful methods. First, advertisers can use the Wordstat tool, which in addition to showing results on the keyword entered, also will show “similar searches” on the right hand column that can include errors.  For advertisers using Yandex.Metrica, the free web analytics tool, they can download a Yandex.Direct- summary report that will show exact queries.  Accounting for certain Russian spelling and grammar also relates to how advertisers are using match types. For a full assessment of the way to best utilize Yandex.Direct match types, read here.