Archive for the ‘SEO optimisation’ Category

SEO in the Russian Internet: Where to start?

January 17, 2011

In this post I’m going to have a closer look at the topic of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) in the Russian speaking Internet. I believe that any foreign company who wants to extend their business to the Russian market will have to make a decision on how to implement SEM campaigns in the RuNet.

There are a few options to consider. The less expensive one is to hire a freelancer. I would recommend searching for Russia-based SEO experts on Freelance.ru website. In my previous post I interviewed Mikhail Shakin , an experienced SEO freelancer and excellent blogger. He writes a very interesting and informative blog about the specifics of SEO in Russian search engines. He speaks English well and I am sure would be happy to answer SEM related questions if contacted through his blog. Generally, it’s very important to conduct thorough research about a freelancer’s work and reputation to avoid disappointment. However, it’s hard to undertake such research, if you don’t speak Russian, as this kind of information is mainly available in local non-English industry-related online resources.

Another way to enhance one’s presence in the Russian cyber market is to hire SEO & Internet Marketing companies based in the UK who have native Russian speakers working for them. I found a few UK firms on Google : WebCertain and New Frontier Digital. Unfortunately, not all companies provide employees’ profiles on websites. I came across only one Russian expert working for New Frontie Digital and don’t have a clear idea of the kind of experience Russians working here are expected to have to deliver SEM campaigns.

Some big companies prefer hiring native Russian speakers and let them take charge of online marketing in CIS region. However, it might be difficult to find the right candidate with relevant experience and legal rights to work in the UK. As an option a company can grow their own digital experts by offering Russian speaking employees to take online SEO courses. This will give them an opportunity to learn how to work with Russian search engines whilst practicing on a company’s website. For example, Russia- based company SEO – Study provides such training for approximately £ 360 per month.

Another option is to hire a SEO company based in Russia. This will give certain benefits: local agencies have all the resources to keep abreast with rapid changes of Russian search engines, more native speakers will be available to work on an account and ,finally, prices for services are lower comparing to the UK. In my experience Russians are very motivated to build relationships with clients from the West. Many agencies go the extra mile to deliver great service and results. I understand it’s quite complicated for a foreign company to find the right agency in Russia. I am sure that many still have an assumption that doing business with partners from the former USSR might turn into nightmare. I heard a few concerns from Western marketers about the quality of work middle-sized Russian agencies deliver. I came across a great post by Andrey Milyan, the first editor-in-chief of Search Marketing Standard where he describes the SEO industry in Russia. The article contains lots of criticism. However, the post is almost three years old and I’m sure things have changed.

Obviously, the language barrier is the main handicap for foreign companies to search for agencies in Russia. Many professional SEO forums such as Optimization.ru and other resources where you can look for experts are not translated to English. Usually, websites of Russian SEO independent agencies are only in Russian as well. I think this is the main reason why Western businesses working in the Russian market keep hiring global media agencies with chain offices in Russia. I agree that this is the most straightforward and relativity safe option, but an expensive one.

Someone from an independent local SEM agency explained to me the way some global agencies work in Russia and why their services might be not as excellent as you expect. Usually, big media agencies offer a broad range of services and started offering SEM not long ago. High-quality SEO services require a lot of time, expertise and human resources. Great SEM department requires investment in human resources and extensive training. To avoid these costs some big agencies tend to hire smaller sub-agencies or freelancers whose services are much cheaper and make profit on a price difference. Thus, a client pays a lot for cheap work and the quality of the work delivered turns out to be poor.

Well-known Russian Internet Marketing Agency Ashmanov & Parners conducted research about the state of the Russian SEO industry in October 2008 which was published in the Internet Marketing Practice magazine. According to their findings the price range for SEO services varies from 60,000 rubles (£1,260) – 120,000 (£2,510) rubles  per month. Despite the fact that this research is three years old it still gives a rough idea about the cost of SEO services in Russia. The authors of the research concluded that different companies provide different levels of customer service and ways of satisfying clients’ needs. My advice would be to spend more time shopping around before making a final choice. If I were to choose a SEM company in Russia, I would consider companies with employees speaking at industry events, that have strong social media presence and have staff members that are fluent in English.


In my next post I’m going to focus on the search habits of Internet users in Russia.

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Marketers, expand your knowledge and meet the Russian online users. 

December 13, 2010

At school my favorite subjects were Russian language and literature. I truly enjoyed writing essays, reading, discussing the Russian classics and exploring sophisticated grammar. At the same time, I was also fond of English and assiduously learned the language of business and international communications. It was an unquestionable fact that fluent English would be essential for my career, leisure and overall success in life. Currently, I work for a company providing English language training and it doesn’t take much to put across the message about the importance of English as a second language in someone’s life. I’m very proud that I speak Russian and grateful for all the opportunities I had to master my English which definitely makes my life so much more exciting.

Certainly, English is a global language and this explains why the majority of  native English speakers are not that keen on learning other languages. I’ve met a few self – deluded marketers who believe that Google Translate is enough for desktop marketing research and basic marketing communications. Of course, you can always hire a global marketing agency to implement your campaigns in foreign markets. This is a very common practice and makes perfect sense, but can be costly and less efficient than you expect. I think the  worldwide rise of the Internet provides plenty of opportunities for businesses to meet local partners online and secure brand awareness abroad without spending too much money. However, this requires a genuine desire to learn about other cultures and languages plus it requires time to build relationships with people from another cultural and social background. So, despite the fact that the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sang in English a few days ago the majority of Russians still prefer surfing online in their native language and it’s definitely worth making an effort and spend some time trying to understand the differences between .COM and.RU.

In my future posts I’m going to take a closer look at the particulars of online marketing, SEO, social media, public relations and market research in Russia. In order to obtain the most up-to-date and relevant information I have contacted some Russia-based agencies who kindly agreed to help me with content.

Firstly, I’d like to give a brief overview of Runet. I gathered the data from a few open sources: a report called The State of the Russian Internet produced by a group of enthusiasts from infact.ru, the widely – known www.internetworldstats.com and from the Russian Public Opinion Foundation fom.ru

Currently, there are about 59.7 million Russian speaking people using the Internet, this represents 3.0 % of all the Internet users in the world. Out of the estimated 139,390,205 population of the world that speaks Russian, 42.8 % use the Internet. The number of Russian Speaking Internet Users has grown 1,825.8% in the last ten years (2000-2010). According to the Russian Public Opinion Foundation ( Фонд Общественное Мнение) research this summer 28,6 million Russians logged in online at least once a day, with 38,8 million weekly users and 43.7 million monthly.

Bearing in mind that Russia is a vast country with various economic growth rates in different regions, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of Internet penetration at each region. Today, around 51% of the  population of multi-million cities are regular online users. In smaller places  30%-40% people have access to the Internet and only 20% in villages.  It’s worth emphasizing the Internet penetration growth in Russia depends on regions. 33% of .Ru domains are owned by webmasters from Russia’s remote regions ( not from Moscow and St.Petersburg)

The Internet penetration map of Russia.

Russian Internet Penetration Map

This map demonstrates that 30% of online users live in the Central Region (including Moscow), 13% – in the North-West region (including St. Petersburg), 20% – in the Volga region (cities around the Volga river), 13% – in the South and Caucasian regions, 8% – in the Ural region (cities around the Ural mountain chain), 13% – in Siberia and still about 4% – in the Far East region of the Russian Federation.

So what kind of Russians could be referred as regulars in cyberspace? The table below shows that a typical Internet user in Russia is relatively well-off and can afford the following: 37% of Internet savvy population own a car, 23%  have the pleasure of holding a credit card and 47% possess debit cards, 16% use paid medical services, 12% visit cinemas several times a month, 5% use a PDA and 66% of all Internet users  drink beer.

Russian Internet Users

This graph was provided by a very friendly and successful Russian SEO and search marketing agency, Ingate, with offices in Moscow and Tula. In my next post I’m going to look into the Russian search engine market, contextual advertising, popular searches in Yandex and much more.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing on Russian Search Engines.

December 7, 2010

Russian InternetWhile interest in the Russian speaking Internet is steadily growing, more businesses are exploring efficient ways of reaching the Russian speaking audience online. I’m going to take a closer look at the very relevant and controversial topic of SEO and marketing on Runet. I find it exciting because all successful businesses strive to be at the top of search engines results. No doubts, it’s important to secure the best spot in search rankings. Especially, if the company is targeting a foreign market and has to compete with local businesses. Surely, there is a big difference between Search Engine Marketing with Google and Yandex, the largest search engine in Russia and the particularities are not restricted to language itself. I call the topic of search engine marketing in Russia controversial because I heard a few opinions about some unethical tactics companies use while implementing Russian Search Marketing techniques.

I’m trying to find a Russian-based SEO agency to write a post on my blog about the state of SEO, and hopefully this will cover the topic in the near future with more professional insights. In the meantime, I asked my friend Veronika Jermolina who has done some SEO work on the Russian Internet to share her experiences on my blog. Although she may not be an expert, she has a completely independent point of view. This is what she had to say:

“For the past two years I have been working in the usability industry in the UK. In the last 6 months I have taken a keen interest in SEO, mostly through reading and working on optimising a website of a log house construction company for the Russian market. Although I am by no means an expert, I have noticed several differences between the attitudes towards SEO in the UK and Russia.

1. Use of ‘black hat’ methods of SEO

The worst offenders of using these ‘black hat’, or dodgy methods are companies who want to rank highly for competitive queries, such as ‘log houses in Moscow’. For example, link exchange schemes when site A places a link to site B in return for site B placing a link to site A. Another technique that is common in Russia is paid links, when an authoritative website or blogger is paid for placing a link to a website. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen serious businesses use this technique in the UK too, but the use of these techniques in Runet is in my opinion absolutely atrocious.

Such techniques, if discovered, are penalised by search engines. They are also counter-productive for the web as a whole. Due to manipulated ratings the user is not given the best result for his/her query. Further, this effort quickly becomes fruitless if the user exits the site immediately due to its poor content.

2. SEO viewed as a part of user-centred and persuasive design

In Russia SEO is definitely seen as one of the most important success factors for a website. In the UK the concepts of usability and user centred design are much more advanced and seen as a priority. Rather than ranking well in search engines the concern is often about being able to deliver relevant, persuasive content and functionality.

3. Lack of research

SEO in itself is a bit of a black box in a sense that no one really knows how search engines work. If people did, it would be too easy to use this knowledge to manipulate and compromise results. However, it is possible to gain a better understanding through changing variables and observing how they affect ranking over time. There are plenty of resources available to English-speaking audiences, for example SEOmoz. One problem I did come across was the lack of research in Russian, specific to Russian audiences. For example, how does transliteration affect the results?”

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

June 9, 2010

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.

Интервью с российским SEO экспертом Михаилом Шакиным

May 11, 2010

Я провела интернет-интервью с российским SEO экспертом Михаилом Шакиным. Я узнала о Михаиле во время своего исследования о специалистах в области продвижения и развития вебсайтов в России. В среднем на блог Михаила заходят три тысячи человек в сутки, и он -активный участник соответствующих этой тематике форумов. Из этого интервью я узнала об отличительных чертах развития сайтов и SEO в Рунете. Михаил живет в Омске, на юго-западе Сибири, разрушая этим фактом стереотипы о том, что основные эксперты в России находятся в столице. Михаил делает замечательную работу на своем блоге. Я всегда нахожу его посты очень интересными и легко воспринимающимися.

Как Вы охарактеризуете вид своей деятельности?

Я бы сказал так – работаю в интернете. Основная моя сфера деятельности – продвижение и развитие сайтов.

Сколько посетителей  за сутки в среднем заходят на ваш блог Shakin.ru ?

В среднем три тысячи человек с небольшим.

Есть ли разница на сколько активно люди пользуются интернетом в разных регионах России? В каких городах наиболее высокий процент жителей, пользующихся интернетом? Вы следите за статистикой? Если да, какими источниками информации Вы пользуетесь?

Да, конечно, число пользователей интернета напрямую зависит от его доступности и распространенности. В России лидируют Москва и Санкт-Петербург, это логично – интернет там самый доступный и скоростной. Могу сказать по своим знакомым в Омске – об интернете знают все, но мало кто в нем хорошо ориентируется. Обычно дальше социальных сетей и почты большинство интернет пользователей не идет.

Являетесь ли Вы активным участником каких – либо социальных сетей ( Вконтакте, Facebook, Oдноклассники)?

В Одноклассниках зарегистрирован давно, но не помню, когда заходил на этот сервис. Недавно завел аккаунты Вконтакте и Facebook, но активно там не общаюсь.

Считаете ли Вы создание профайлов в социальных сетях и расширение круга виртуальных друзей необходимыми составляющими для продвижения любого онлайн бизнеса?

Думаю, тут важны не столько профайлы в социальных сетях, сколько знакомые и владельцы интернет ресурсов по тематике Вашего сайта. С ними можно договориться о взаимовыгодном сотрудничестве – это дает хорошие преимущества. Конечно, для того, чтобы что-то получать, нужно что-то давать.

Какие западные блоги Вы читаете для пополнения своих профессиональных навыков?

Зарубежные ресурсы я часто читаю и нахожу в них много полезной информации. Те сайты, которые я читаю, я недавно описывал в статье http://shakin.ru/seo/foreign-seo-resources.html.

Кто, по вашему мнению, является лидирующим зарубежным блоггером, пишущим про SEO оптимизации?

Я бы назвал Лорена Бейкера, основателя SearchEngineJournal.com. Он дал интервью для моего блога, которое можно прочитать здесь: http://shakin.ru/interview/loren-baker.html.

Вы читаете какие-либо учебные пособия по SEO?

Когда начинал в сфере продвижения сайтов, то читал книгу Ашманова “Продвижение сайта в поисковых системах”. Сейчас все познаю на практике. Если нужно выяснить какой-либо момент – то провожу эксперимент.

Существуют ли учебники или пособия по  SEO, написанные российскими авторами?

Основным учебным пособием считаю вышеупомянутую книгу Ашманова, в ней хорошо описаны теоретические основы.

Вы посещаете конференции или семинары по SEO в России?

От Омска до Москвы 2800 километров. Если бы не это расстояние, обязательно бы посещал различные мероприятия.

Как относятся российские владельцы бизнесов к онлайн рекламе и SEO? Насколько они осознают значение интернета в продвижении их товаров и услуг?

В крупных городах все больше бизнесменов понимают перспективу интернета для их бизнеса. В городах поменьше многие не осознают этого.

Вы когда-либо выполняли заказы на  западных компаний на SEO в рунете? Если да, то приведите, пожалуйста, пример.

С западными компаниями в плане продвижения сайтов не работал.

Какой Ваш любимый российский блог?

Мне нравятся многие блоги в рунете, но какой-то один выделить сложно.

На каком сайте по Вашему мнению,  лучше  узнавать последние новости о развитии интернет-маркетинга, PR, социальных медиа в рунете?

Думаю, лучше всего узнавать новую информацию в любой тематике – это подписаться на RSS ленты ведущих сайтов. Затем в Google Reader’е можно удобно просматривать и фильтровать информацию с помощью поиска. В последнее время в этом плане выходит Twitter – замечаю, что подписавшись на интересных мне людей, узнаю о всем новом именно в твиттере.

В чем , на Ваш взгляд, заключается основное различие между российской и западной блогосферами?

В англоязычной блогосфере намного больше рекламодателей и возможностей заработать на своем блоге. В рунете большинство блогов испытывают трудности в этом плане и часто забрасывают свои сайты через некоторое время. Хотя при желании те, кто хотят, преодолевают этот момент.

Есть ли у Вас пожелания западным компаниям, которые собираются заниматься онлайн- бизнесом в России, например Еbay, Facebook, Google? Какие особенности им необходимо учитывать, чтобы не потерять деньги и не поставить себя в неловкое положение на российском рынке?

Желательно интегрироваться с российскими платежными системами – Яндекс Деньгами и Webmoney. Для любого крупного зарубежного сервиса в рунете желателен региональное представительство и русскоязычная техподдержка. Зачастую, когда появляется новость, что какой-либо сервис открывает представительство в Москве, начинаю говорить о серьезности намерений этой компании в рунете.
Считаете ли Вы возможным существование государственной цензуры в российской блогосфере?

Трудно сказать. В любом случае, определенные правила должны быть, чтобы меньше людей страдало от мошенников и недобросовестных сервисов.


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