Social media monitoring tools produced in Russia and Ukraine.
Brandspotter – produced by marketers and web developers. Offers sentiment analysis, has its own metrics system and is applicable for measuring the efficiency of social media campaigns.
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.
While 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?”
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.