I think the famous saying ‘When in Rome do as the Romans Do’ is very relevant to online marketing campaigns. Ubiquitous Google is a great search engine when it comes to the English speaking audience, but if you target Russian speakers Yandex is the place to go. For search engine campaigns I recommend Yandex for PPC ads as it was designed by Russians for Russians and, with wisely chosen keywords, this service will bring a return on investment for your business.
Yandex is the largest resource and largest search engine in the Russian Internet market, based on audience size and internet penetration. Yandex currently has over 64% of the market share in search engines and has over 10 billion web pages indexed. The closest competitors of Yandex in the Russian market are Rambler.ru and Mail.ru. Although services like Google and Yahoo! are also used by Russian users and have Russian-language interfaces, Google has about 21.8% of search engine generated traffic, whereas Russian sites (including Yandex) have around 63.4%. Yandex is therefore one of the national non-English-language search engines that outrun Google in their countries, along with Naver in South Korea, Seznam in the Czech Republic and China’s Baidu, among others. One of Yandex’s largest advantages for Russian-language users is recognition of Russian inflection in search queries.
Pay per click advertising on Yandex is more expensive than with Google, but it’s worth the money as you will reach more people. The payment process can, however, be an issue. Payments made with a UK credit card usually fail because of restrictive foreign currency regulations in Russia. The solution is to make a pre-payment to Yandex via an international bank transfer, but they are a big hassle to set up and take a very long time to clear. Still, they are the safest and most viable option.
Yandex doesn’t offer a free translation of keywords with pay as you go accounts. Foreign clients have to use Google translate or an alternative service – http://slovari.yandex.ru/~translate/.
However it’s worth remembering that the keywords might differ from country to country and it’s always better to consult with a native Russian speaker before choosing the word for which you are going to pay. For a monthly fee, starting from 490 Euro, Yandex will provide an account manager who will assist in the preparation of keywords.
Please feel free to contact me in case you want to learn more about Yandex or other peculiarities of the Runet.