Posts Tagged ‘Mike Shakin’

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 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 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.


Interview with Russian SEO expert Mike Shakin

May 11, 2010

I’ve done an email interview with Russian SEO expert and popular blogger Mike Shakin. I found out about Mike, while doing an online research into website development specialists in Russia. Mike has more than 3000 visitors to his blog per day and is an active member of  forums relevant to his area of expertise. From this interview I’ve learned about the particularities of running an online business in Russia. Mike lves in Omsk, located in southwestern Siberia, breaking out of the stereotype that major web development experts in Russia are based in the capital city. Mike does an amazing job with his blog. I always find his posts very informative and easy to understand.

How would you describe your occupation?

I work on the internet, focusing on websites development and promotion.

How many visitors  do you get to your blog a day?

 On the average, I get more than 3000 visits daily.

Is there a difference in the Internet usage levels in various regions of Russia? Which cities have the highest internet penetration level? 

Sure, there is. The amount of Internet users  depends on its affordability and availability. Moscow and St. Petersburg are the most Internet advanced cities. For example, in Omsk everybody knows about the Internet, but not everyone is fully conversant with it. Usually, people don’t go beyond social networking sites and emails.

Are you an active member of any social networking websites?

I registered in long time ago, but haven’t visited it for a while. Recently, I’ve joined and Facebook, but don’t use it actively.

Do you  consider creating profiles on social networking sites and adding lots of friends is essential for any online business?

In my opinion, it is essential to know people running Internet resources relevant to your website, rather creating profiles on social networking sites. You can win from mutually beneficial cooperation. Obviously, it should be always give-and-take relationships.

Which Western blogs do you read to enhance your professional skills?

I always find a lot of useful information on Western online resources. Here is the list of blogs I read

 Which blog is the best in covering  SEO optimisation topics?

I would say Loren Baker, the founder of the He gave me an interview published here

 Do you read any textbooks about SEO?

In the very beginning of my career I read the book of Ashmanov ‘ Optimization and Promotion of Sites in Search Engines’ .  At present, I prefer to learn on practice. If I have to find out about particular topic,  I conduct experiments.

Are there any textbooks about SEO written by Russian experts?

I can recommend  only Ashmanov’s book.

Do you attend any conferences or seminars on SEO in Russia?

 No, I don’t. The distance from Omsk to Moscow is 2000 kilometres. It’s too far to travel.

What is the attitude of Russian business owners to online advertisement and SEO? Do they realise the importance of the Internet promotion?

In bigger cities more businesses appreciate the importance of the Internet for their development, in smaller ones many haven’t realised it yet.

Do you have a favorite Russian blog?

I like many blogs in Runet and can’t name the only one.

Which websites in Runet are the best sources of information about digital marketing, PR, social media?

The best way to keep abreast of the news is to subscribe to RSS feeds of leading in this area websites. Then I use the Google Reader to filter and look through information by search. Also I receive breaking news from following interesting people on Twitter.

What is the main difference between the Russian and Western blogoshperes?

On the English-Speaking Internet there are more advertisers and opportunities to make money blogging comparing to the Runet, where the majority of bloggers find it difficult to make money on blogs. Therefore, many blogs get abandoned after a while. However, those who keep going overcome any obstacles.

What is your advice to Western companies doing online business in Russia, for example Ebay, Facebook, Google? What should they consider not to lose money and avoid unpleasant situations?

 It is desirable to integrate with the Russian online payment systems – Yandex Money and Webmoney. For any foreign companies starting working on the Runet it’s essential to open regional representation offices and get the Russian-language technical support. As soon as I get the news that a foreign company opens a representative office in Moscow, I start to believe that this company has serious intentions on the Russian market.

Do you consider the possibility of a state-imposed censorship on the Russian blogosphere?

It’s hard to to say. Either way, certain rules must be applied, so fewer people would suffer from fraud and unfair services.

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