Русский Язык 101: Yandex’s Russian Language Lesson for the SEO World

A true understanding of a language and its grammatical complexities takes years to understand, let alone master.  The Russian language is extremely complex, further wrapped in cultural behavior, intonation, and multiple variations of sentence structures. From double negations to six different noun form cases, there is plenty to consider when forming even a basic phrase.  A single word in English could have several different words or expressions in Russian.

While word order in English will tell you whether something is a subject, object, or indirect object of a sentence, the Russian cases will tell you the noun form of the word, leaving the the sentence structure far less important.  Russian language also considers whether the noun is masculine, neuter, feminine, and in singular or plural format.

The Russian cases can also indicate how an action is carried out, time, possession, and location.  Prepositions are associated with certain cases and a noun will take the appropriate case format based on the preposition. For instance, the locative case is location so prepositions such as “in” or “at” go with this case and the nouns take the locative case formation in single or plural format.

Verbs, which all have a perfective and an imperfective form, are conjugated in six different formats that are also adaptable in past, present, and future tense.  This often results in the subject of a sentence disappearing as it is understood through the conjugation.

If “I am reading the book,” we know I am the subject and the book is the object.  In Russian, that sentence may be said as, “Book read.” The case change of the “book” and the verb formation of “read” will tell you the I am reading the book and the book is the object without including “I” in the sentence at all.  Now imagine a sentence or phrase that is more complex and throw in some adjectives and adverbs.  There’s a lot going on and that’s just the beginning.

Did I mention the verb “to be” doesn’t exist? In short, the Russian language is pretty complicated mainly because of the morphology of words.  When it comes to search engines and their ability to recognize these complications of the Russian language, Yandex is the answer.  After all, Yandex was created to deal with the complexities of the Russian language.

Although Western built search engines can adapt their algorithms, they weren’t created to do so.   The user experience while searching on Yandex proves much better merely analyzing the system’s Russian language skills.  Where Google only sees the single search query with a specific spelling,  Yandex knows better, producing search results that consider all formats and possibilities a user intends.

First, Yandex was built on a Russian system recognizing the 12 possible forms a noun can take in singular or plural format. Different case forms are not considered as different keywords. Rather a single word like book will automatically be considered in all forms, unless otherwise specified. Second, Yandex recognizes keywords with and without fixed prepositions.  Finally, Yandex also recognizes transliteration. When a Russian word is spelled with Latin characters like “kniga” the word for book, Yandex produces 442 million results, which you will notice are in Russian.

Looking further in this search results page alone, you will see the word “kniga” or книга in five separate forms. PPC specialists will be relieved to know that unless the keyword is otherwise fixed in a campaign, Yandex will include all of possible forms of a keyword.

yandex kniga search results page