In this article I’ll introduce you one the most important group of ranking factors in Yandex for commercial websites.
As we all know, the main purpose of every search engine is to provide the most relevant results that can solve user’s problem. In case of commercial websites, this task can be described as providing a user with detailed information about the product or service, and then giving a possibility to purchase the product from a reliable seller
How does this all relate to ranking?
Commercial ranking factors help Yandex to assess how well a website copes with the described tasks. It should be said, that these factors help to assess the quality of a document, but not its textual relevance to a query. What I mean by that, Yandex uses commercial ranking factors towards websites that the algorithm has already considered as relevant, i.e. containing information which a user is searching for.
The essence of commercial intent
The first mention of commercial factors appeared in November 2011, when Yandex announced on its blog a change of ranking formula for the Moscow region, which later extended to other regions. Yandex introduced five factors which it considers important for commercial websites:
- Credibility of the website and company
- Appearance and interface
- Range of products
- Methods of payment and delivery
Later, in April 2013, Yandex has published a document “Quality-biased Ranking for Queries with Commercial Intent” (PDF), in which Yandex engineers describe the mechanism of commercial ranking. And in December 2013, Yandex representative announced the ranking in Moscow without impact of backlinks. So it’s logical that if search engine disables the impact of some factors, than other factors (e.g., commercial) should become increasingly important.
Nowadays in competitive branches you can find less and less websites that do not meet the “standards” of this document. SEOs try to perform all the described conditions by default. It is apparent that now, when the majority of websites in top-10 have roughly the same content and quality (detailed description of the products, functionality of pages, etc.), web sites need to stand out from the competition on the basis of other, more complex factors. But that’s a topic for later analyses. In this article I would like to focus on commercial requirements to websites, because ignoring them may limit the visibility of your website in search results already at the start of SEO campaign in Yandex.
So what are these factors?
In the “Quality-biased Ranking for Queries with Commercial Intent” engineers from Yandex describe 4 indicators of quality page: trustability, usability, design quality and quality of service. And, what’s important, the indicators “trust” and “quality of service” have a two times higher value than other qualitative aspects of the website.
Here is a list of some features that are used in the qualitative evaluation of websites:
- Detailed contact information
- Company’s pages in social networks
- Absence of advertising
- Number of different product items
- Detailed product description
- Availability of shipping service
- Customer service (email, phone, customer feedback etc.)
- On-line consulting system
- Price discounts
- Readability of domain name
- Average URL length
- Average page title length
- Consistency of page title and page content
- Average depth of the URL path
Let’s take a look at each of these features, and try to figure out how to increase the attractiveness of your website, to gain trust of potential customers and increase visibility of your website in Yandex.
Commercial ranking factors: how to handle them?
1. Detailed contact information
Customers are looking for companies which they can easily connect with. Yandex recommends to give more ways to contact company’s customer service: telephone, e-mail, Skype, Viber or other instant messenger, links to social networks, contact form. A few important details:
- As noted by Yandex, a local phone number gives you more confidence than a mobile number.
- In Russia there is roaming between regions, so if you are planning to conduct sales across the country, a reasonable solution would be to purchase a number starting with 8-800, which is free for the caller from any Russian city.
- Next to the phone number you should specify working hours of operation Manager:
- For the B2B sector an important element of the contact information is the details of a legal person (name, form of ownership, tax ID, address). In addition, without this information, the party might not pass moderation in Yandex.Direct or Yandex.Catalog (https://yaca.yandex.ru).
- If your company has an office in Russia, Belarus or Ukraine, where your clients can come, then you should add the map with details:
- A link to your contact page should be accessible from any page of the website. It’s better to place phone number on each page in a visible spot:
- Before you make a final decision on adding any elements on your website, always analyze your competitors — what elements do the industry leaders’ websites have.
2. Company’s pages in social networks
The presence of social network profiles suggests that the company cares about different ways of communication with their audience. It does not mean that you need to mindlessly create company profiles in all known social networks. But if you see that your competitors are using, for example, VK.com to communicate with customers and promote their services, probably, you should create such fanpage too.
3. Absence of advertising
The purpose of commercial website is to sell its own products or services, but not to redirect user to other sites. Make sure that your website has no ads. Make sure that all outbound links have “nofollow” parameter. In 2011 Yandex announced a new algorithm (link, in Russian) that lowers search ranking of websites abusing advertising or having pop-up windows.
4. Number of different product items
A customer is more likely to be interested in the online store with a wide range of products. In some industries an important factor is the availability of new products (e.g. movies, books) and how up-to-date is your product list.
An important aspect is also the availability of products in the warehouse. Many e-commerce websites are trying to artificially extend the list of key phrases, adding hundreds of products, but pointing out that these products are currently unavailable. According to their plan you’ve already entered the site, so probably you will look for something else. But in most cases the user simply leaves this site and goes to the side of competitors. Yandex considers such a method as SEO spam, which in turn can have a negative impact on the website ranking.
In addition, the search engine algorithms there is the concept of completeness of the response in its niche. Yandex prefers sites that respond to a larger number of queries in their specific niche. For example, an e-commerce platform selling 50 brands of shoes of different models, while other things being equal, is more likely to be ranked higher than a website that sells only 5 of these brands.
5. Detailed product description
- Each product should have its own landing page. The product must be described in detail with photos at different angle and at the correct resolution will allow users to view the offer better:
- On the item card you should place customer reviews, “Similar goods” block, prices and of course “Buy” button:
6. Availability of shipping services
As I wrote previously, the delivery service is a significant factor for Yandex since 2011. What are the differences in shipping services in online stores?
- Shipping options. If a shop cares about user’s comfort, it offers several shipping options to allow him to choose which option is better.
- Availability of points of personal reception. Sometimes customers want to pick up the goods in person to check it or to clarify something with a seller.
- Availability of free delivery. Of course, if you have an opportunity not to pay for the shipping, the majority of customers will use it with pleasure.
- Time of delivery. For many clients in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg, delivery on the same or next day is a standard. And in addition, users are more comfortable if delivery works on weekends.
- Detailed information about the delivery. Besides placing on item landing page a short information “delivery within 2-5 days”, you need to add an additoinal page with a detailed description of the conditions of delivery, costs and time of delivery.
7. Customer service (email, phone, customer feedback etc.)
As an online consultant is described in a separate section, it is likely that Yandex engineers meant by that the availability of support after purchasing the product (e.g., warranty services or technical assistance). How can Yandex monitor the availability such service?
- Presence of the technical service phone number
- Ticket section that allows you to communicate with support
- Presence of the forum for customers
- Tracking the order status
8. Online consultant
A pop-up window with a consultant can be regarded either as an irritant and a negative factor (see section 3), or as a positive – in that case, if such function is available, but it doesn’t prevent the user to obtain information on the site (window is opened by clicking on it).
You need to analyze the “Close” button clicks and the number of contacts through this window to understand whether it disturbs customers or helps them.
9. Price discounts
If your website offers discounts, and your competitors don’t, this will definitely be an advantage. Consumers love promotions and are more willing to click on search results with an indication of discounts. But be careful and pay attention to section 13.
10. Readability of a domain name
Yandex was a success in Runet largely due to the fact that it became better than Google in understanding the morphology of Russian language. Understanding whether a domain name is easy-to-read is a relatively simple task for the search engine algorithm. Try to create a clear and easy to remember domain name.
11. The average URL length
Most likely, algorithm has a certain average “ideal” URL length URL (from X to Y) and validates length of a URL relatively to this interval. Try to make structure of the URL clear to users (domain/category/subcategory/product).
12. Average page title length
You should createtags to all pages, not just homepage. The company’s name or slogan, category name will be rather needles in your page title, so leave there only the most useful information, that briefly describes page content.
13. Consistency of page title and page content
Remember, that the title should have up-to-date information on the proposed product. For example, if you specified the available colors of a product or you’ve added information about a discount, and at the same time there is no such information on the landing page, Yandex may consider it as a negative signal.
14. Average depth of the URL path
It is believed that a user should be able to access any information on the website after two clicks max. Try to stick to this rule. Make easy and clear navigation on the website, don’t force users to wander through your site.
Among webmasters there is a perception that the more pageviews a website has, the better search rankings it gets. But unfortunately it will not work, because of the advanced mechanisms of evaluating user’s “satisfaction”. If a user leaves your website after a few seconds of pointless searches, and then navigates to your competitor’s website where he easily finds what he wanted, it’s an obvious signal, that there is something wrong with your website navigation.
Behavioral factors are the second important group of factors that has an impact on search ranking in Yandex. I will describe them in the next articles.
I would like to give two pieces of advice related to all commercial relevance criteria and assessment of the website quality:
Always look at your website from the user’s position. In order to make an objective and unbiased research of your website, do a survey among users, for example, using the Russian service AskUsers.ru. Answers will help you understand whether your website is actually convenient and comfortable, and you can specify nuances that might be missed.
Always look at your competitors. If they are already ranking in the top-10 for your key phrases, there is a huge possibility that Yandex perceives them as the most qualitative due to commercial factors. Remember that in many niches dozens of websites are very similar to each other and have approximately the same quality of inbound links. In order to find a “gem” among the same websites, commercial ranking factors were invented. Good luck!