Use Yandex.Webmaster to uncover valuable Keyword Information

The original Russian language article on using Yandex.Webmaster tools to improve the efficacy of your promotional efforts

can be here found here.

In this post, we’ll dive into the Search Queries section of Yandex.Webmaster to give you a better idea of the useful information you can uncover there. We’ll also answer some questions that users have asked about their site statistics.

So what information and features should you focus on in the search queries section?

  1. The search queries that helped your site make it into the Top 50 rating for the past 3 months (the Popular Queries tab under Query Statistics)
  2. The queries that could bring more traffic to your site if you continue developing your SEO or ad strategies (see the Recommended Queries tab). Side note: be prepared for the unexpected here 🙂
  3. The indicators that show what your site’s overall position in search is, as well as it’s position for individual queries and groups of queries (you can view the average position, CTR, number of clicks, as well as dynamics for these indicators on graphs).
  4. The feature that lets you create detailed query groups for analysis (under the All Queries and Groups tab). You can add groups manually or by using filters (the latter of which you can create using part of a query text, part of a URL, and/or numeric indicators). For example, you can create a group out of the queries that led users to the contacts section of your site, those that contained the word “contact”, and those that landed in the top 5 positions and have a low CTR.

You can find more information about the Search Queries section in the Yandex.Webmaster Help. Now we’ll answer some questions that users have sent the Webmaster team.

The Search Queries section indicates that my site is in a different position for search than it actually is. Why is that? Is it a mistake?

Indicators in Yandex.Webmaster are more accurate overall than what you can infer from performing your own searches. Any discrepancies are explained by the fact that users from different regions and on different devices may see your site appear in different positions within the search results (check out the Region and Device Type settings for more on this). Don’t forget about personalization.

Additionally, query statistics in Yandex.Webmaster are historical (i.e. they reflect a time period in the past). You can see data for a given date directly in the Query Statistics section by selecting a time period on the calendar. There is a time lag with compiling statistics, but it is generally only a few days. If your site position changed substantially for a given query on the days you’re looking at, the Yandex.Webmaster indicator will differ significantly from your site’s current position until fresh data can be processed.

Nevertheless, if you compare the Search Queries positions with those in the actual search results and notice a significant discrepancy over an extended period of time, please let us know using the feedback form.

Yandex.Metrica and Webmaster show different click data. Is this bad?

It’s probably the case that the sources and exact type of data in the Yandex.Metrica reports you’re viewing are different than their Yandex.Webmaster equivalents.

Nevertheless, there are a few things you can check just in case there is an error. If your Yandex.Metrica indicators are lower than the Webmaster ones, make sure that your Metrica tag is installed correctly on all your webpages. It’s also possible that your site has accessibility problems and users are clicking on your link in search but aren’t able to connect to your site.  If you looked into these possibilities and everything is fine but the difference in indicators between services is significant, then there may be a calculation error. When that is the case, please contact us and we will figure out if there is indeed an error and resolve it! If Yandex is responsible, then we will re-calculate our statistics for all sites and display a notice for the corresponding period in the Query Statistics section.

What exactly is “average site position”? Where does the fractional part of the value come from?

The average position is a weighted average of displays. For example, if a given search query resulted in 23 displays in 5th position and 31 in 7th, then the average position will be calculated this way: (23*5 + 31*7)/(23+31)=6.15.

My site doesn’t get a lot of clicks or traffic. Is something wrong with it?

Answer these questions first:

  1. What tasks do you want users to accomplish on your site? How do users formulate queries that correspond to those tasks? You can use Wordstat to help you answer these questions:  https://wordstat.yandex.ru/.
  2. Does your site have landing pages that help users solve these tasks better than other sites do?
  3. Do your title and h1 tag successfully convey the main idea of the page? What about your descriptions?
  4. Have all your pages been indexed? You can use the Check URL Status tool in Yandex.Webmaster to make sure they are participating in search. Additionally, you can add those pages to the Monitor Important Pages section to make sure you don’t overlook any problems.
  5. How do your page snippets look? Do your titles and descriptions reflect your page contents? Do they attract people’s attention? The best way to check this is by entering the concrete queries from point 1 directly into your search engine.

What causes a site to have a low CTR overall or for a specific search query?

Your pages may have ineffective snippets or the companies responsible for neighboring search results may be running promotions that are drawing traffic away from your site. Find out what exact queries have the lowest CTR and then look at the search results for these queries from the user’s POV. For more information on how to write webpage descriptions for search, read this and this.

Also pay attention to the average position for problematic queries: search results at the bottom of the page (say, in 9th page) naturally get less clicks than the top 3. (By the way, you can see a breakdown of CTR by position in the Query Statistics section).
If your CTR fell for a very key query, if may be because you have more than one webpage for that query. In these cases, every link is recorded as a display but your click number will hardly go up at all because in most cases the user only clicks on one page.

Why do the Query Statistics include queries that don’t relate to my site at all?

Despite how it may seem, we promise that we don’t invent search queries 🙂 If a query is recorded in Yandex.Webmaster, it means that someone used it to arrive at your site because your content matched in some way. It could be the case that there is a mistake on your site or perhaps you’ve been hacked. The author of this post has also seen isolated cases where someone else’s content ended up on a site due to a hosting error. In either case, you should check your site for vulnerabilities, change your website passwords, and update your CMS to the latest version.

To check whether any “garbage pages” turn up during a search, use the url operator in the following format to search for the problematic query: “url:site.ru* problematic query”.

My page is getting fewer displays. Does Yandex just hate my site?

Your site may be experiencing seasonal demand fluctuations. To see if this is the case, compare your click dynamics from search with the same figures from the same week last year. Another option is to compare dynamics for search traffic from other sources (such as other search engines or direct traffic). If you see the same trend across all these sources, it generally means that demand has changed. The graphics under the Trends tab in the Query Statistics section will also help you take a closer look at the situation: if the graphic for your site looks similar to those for your competitors’ sites, then you are experiencing a natural decline in demand.

If this is not the case, then check whether or not there are any violations listed for your site in the Safety and Violations section. Finally, check each of your webpages individually to see if you can find any causes for the decline:

  1. Find the pages that are getting less traffic. You can use the Landing Pages report in Yandex.Metrica for this to compare two time periods.
  2. Check whether these pages are ending up in search results right now and, if they aren’t, determine the reason for it. You can use the Check URL Status and Check Server Response tools for this.
  3. Make sure that your pages have accurate headings and descriptions, help users solve their tasks, and are easy to use. Website owners often argue that they haven’t changed anything on the page, so they don’t understand why the situation has changed. The answer is simple: if you stand in place, your competitors are going to keep moving and charge ahead! If you keep optimizing and innovating, however, you will be poised to hold onto your existing traffic and overtake them 🙂