Yandex.com. Another major Russian player to join the search engine wars.

The population of Russia is about 140 million people, if taken into consideration CIS countries and Russian immigrant communities globally; there will be around 300 million Russian speakers in the world.

Undoubtedly, such a huge market has many opportunities for search marketing campaigns and different types of online businesses. Broadband penetration levels in CIS countries are steadily growing and in a few years’ time majority of Russians are going to become as active online users as western netizens. Now it’s the best time for internet technologies companies to secure their positions on the Russian market, gain more popularity and retain loyal users. Yandex is doing very well to secure its leadership on the market, as seventh-largest world internet search engine has just launched the alpha version of a search engine for foreign web sites at Yandex.com last month. The search engine began indexing international sites two years ago and has so far catalogued more than 4 billion pages in foreign languages, with 80 percent of those pages in English

Russian – speakers mainly use yandex.ru, mail.ru and rambler.ru while searching information on the Internet. Personally, when I look for information in Russian I prefer yandex.ru to other search engines, because I get better results due to its ability to recognise of Russian inflection in search queries.

In addition to the search engine Yandex offers many other services and is the largest internet company in Russia, whose websites attract a workday audience of more than 19 million users (unique visitors as of March 2010) from CIS countries. About 80% of the Runet audience use the Yandex search engine, according to TNS Gallup and comScore. According to Yandex spokespeople, the company has the technology to take its service to a world-class level. For the time being, Yandex does not intend to advertise its search in the West, as the service is aimed for Russian users mainly.

I’ve read an interesting discussion of Russian social media and PR experts about Yandex’s potential of becoming a strong competitor to English language search engines. There are different opinions on the future development of Yandex . Some see the launch of yandex.com as a defence from world search giants like Google; while others strongly believe that Yandex has all chances to become a world leader in Internet technologies. In any case, I wouldn’t underestimate its growing influence on the global search market and would definitely consider while conducting online campaigns targeted at Russian speaking audience.

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