Yandex Source Code Leak: Why SEO Experts Are Checking It
  • May 15th, 2023
  • Marketing
  • Mary Hubbard

the image features a dark blue background with zeros and ones shaded in light blue, as well as a large code lock in red, broken.

Yandex Source Code Leak: Why SEO Experts Are Checking It

On January 27, 2023, Yandex experienced one of the largest data leaks of all time with 1,922 ranking factors disclosed, including its source code. This leak shocked the tech world and reminded us all that the threat of data breaches is real – for large and small enterprises alike. The last time a search engine data breach occurred on this scale was likely back in 2006, when AOL search query data was exposed.

Yandex might not be a household name in the US, but this Russian company is the second largest search engine in many countries, including Turkey, Ukraine, and Belarus. Its April 2023 market cap is $8.95 billion. Yandex is a search engine, but it also provides a host of other features, including games, maps, weather, and news.

In the wake of this catastrophe, Yandex has issued a public commitment to higher ethical standards to protect its users. The bright side to the Yandex data leak is that SEO experts and digital marketers can learn a lot about how search engines determine page rankings. We’re excited to share some of those insights with you here.

Why Understanding Search Engine Rankings is So Important

Some web pages make it onto a search engine’s coveted first page. Others are instantly buried on page two, or even worse. Understanding what makes the difference is key to successful digital marketing, but that isn’t always easy to do. Since Google, Yandex, and every other search engine are constantly refining their algorithms, you’ll need to continuously stay on top of the significant algorithm changes in order to continue ranking.

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Digital marketing would be a lot easier if we knew exactly what Google’s ranking factors are. Of course, it just doesn’t work that way. Google’s precise ranking process is a secret, but we do know a lot about the most important factors. For instance, five of Google’s top factors include:

  • Content quality (are you offering useful information that users want?)
  • Backlinks (are you linking readers to source material from quality providers?)
  • Relevancy (are you offering content that matches users’ queries?)
  • Website speed (this one’s a no-brainer)
  • Mobile optimization (can users easily view your content on phones?)

However, improving a particular page’s rankings is an art, not a science. That’s because of many complex factors behind the scenes that we can only guess at.

Yandex vs Google: How Similar Are They?

Is it really possible to hone your SEO strategy for Google by studying the Yandex source code leak? While Yandex and Google are certainly not the same, both companies are on the cutting edge of search engine technology. Each search engine weights ranking signals differently, so there won’t be a one-to-one correspondence between the two. However, successful search engines have more similarities than differences. Luckily, Yandex’s leaked source code can tell us a lot about how a good search engine works – and those lessons are worth learning.

Yandex Source Code Leak And Ranking Factors: What Can We Learn?

Although not all of the leaked ranking factors were actually used in content algorithms, we can gain insights from some of the most interesting ones. Here’s some of what Yandex is looking for when it ranks web pages:

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Pages with a variety of traffic sources

If people only visit your page via a single path, your ranking will go down. Traffic that comes from multiple avenues, like paid content, direct visits, links on other pages, and search engine results, reflects a higher page quality. Also, if other pages are linking users to your page, your ranking will increase.

Pages that aren’t overrun by ads

If visitors to your page are met with pop-up ads and videos that detract from their experience, your page will rank lower in Yandex. Excessive ads not only cause frustration and confusion as users try to navigate your website, but they also increase the time it takes for your page to load.

Pages that end users’ searches

If your page is the last stop on a user’s web search, this indicates that you gave them the answers they were looking for.

Pages with new, fresh content

Pages with outdated, irrelevant, or over-optimized content will rank lower in Yandex’s SEO. As always, high-quality content is a foundational SEO practice.

Pages that consistently engage users

When visitors spend time taking action on your page, its ranking will go up. The more visitors you have, the longer they stay, the higher their activity level, and the more often they come back, the better. Of course, user engagement can also be measured in clicks, comments, and reactions.

Pages that are optimized for mobile viewers

58.43% of site traffic occurs on mobile devices. If your page is phone-friendly, users’ behavior will reflect that. They’ll spend more time and take more action on your mobile site, and as per the leaked source code, Yandex will reward you accordingly.

this iamge features a mobile phone with a blue background, that emphasizes the overlay text "Mobile Friendly" website.

Pages that include user reviews

Today’s marketers know that it’s hard to overstate the importance of user reviews. Yandex’s leaked source code now confirms this even more clearly. If your page has plenty of reviews, Yandex will reward you with a higher ranking. 

Wikipedia pages

The Yandex algorithm prioritizes Wikipedia pages above other content.

What Can The Yandex Source Code Leak Tell Us About Site Quality

The quality of individual web pages matters, but so does the quality of your site as a whole. What kind of websites does Yandex’s algorithm reward?

  • Sites with content that’s targeted to users’ location
  • Sites that have existed for some time
  • Users’ likelihood of choosing the site from search results, based on what they see
  • .com sites
  • Sites that provide a fresh stream of content
  • Sites that are optimized with keywords that match users’ searches
  • Sites with video content that users actually watch
  • Sites with high-quality hyperlinks presented in an honest and ethical way
  • Sites with a low crawl depth

URL Quality

What can we learn about creating a winning URL from the leaked Yandex source code? The algorithm favors friendly URLs without excessive numbers, slashes, or capital letters. It also prioritizes URLs that contain relevant keywords. URLs that closely match users’ search terms are ideal.

How SEO Professionals Can Leverage The Yandex Source Code Leak

Much of what we learned from the Yandex source code leak mirrored or added to what we already knew or suspected about Google rankings. With this added confirmation in mind, we can confidently use the leaked ranking factors to optimize our current digital marketing strategies.

Of course, there’s no such thing as an endpoint when it comes to SEO. You’ll need to constantly stay abreast of new information that comes to light about search engine ranking factors, so you can adapt accordingly.

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At Swarm, we Turn Information Into Results

At Swarm Digital Marketing, we understand SEO inside and out. We stay on top of all the latest leaks, breakthroughs, and trends in the world of search engine algorithms. Our full-service digital marketing team will partner with you to solve problems and get results. Ready to get started? Contact us to start a conversation today.

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1. What is Yandex and why is its source code leak significant?

Yandex is a Russian search engine and tech company that offers various services, such as games, maps, weather, and news. The leak of its source code and 1,922 ranking factors is significant because it provides insights into how search engines determine page rankings, which can help SEO experts and digital marketers refine their strategies.

2. Can the Yandex source code leak help improve SEO strategies for Google?

While Yandex and Google are different search engines with their own algorithms, they share many similarities in terms of ranking factors. Studying the Yandex source code leak can provide insights into how successful search engines work, which can be applied to improve SEO strategies for Google.

3. What are some key page quality factors that Yandex considers for ranking?

Yandex considers factors such as traffic sources, ad density, user engagement, mobile optimization, fresh content, user reviews, and the inclusion of Wikipedia pages when determining page rankings.

4. How does Yandex evaluate the overall quality of a website?

Yandex considers factors like location-targeted content, site age, user preference, domain type, fresh content, keyword optimization, video content, ethical hyperlink usage, and crawl depth when evaluating website quality.

5. What makes a URL more favorable according to the Yandex source code leak?

Yandex favors URLs with relevant keywords, friendly structures without excessive numbers or slashes, and those that closely match users’ search terms.

6. How can SEO professionals leverage the Yandex source code leak?

SEO professionals can use the insights gained from the Yandex source code leak to optimize their current digital marketing strategies and improve their understanding of search engine ranking factors.

7. Is the information from the Yandex source code leak enough to guarantee high rankings on search engines?

No, SEO is an ongoing process that requires continuous adaptation to new information and changes in search engine algorithms. The Yandex source code leak provides valuable insights, but SEO professionals must stay updated on the latest trends and developments.

8. How does Yandex’s focus on user engagement affect page rankings?

Pages that consistently engage users through clicks, comments, reactions, and other actions will rank higher in Yandex’s algorithm.

9. What is the significance of user reviews in Yandex’s ranking factors?

User reviews are important for Yandex’s algorithm, as they indicate the quality and relevance of a page. Pages with more reviews are rewarded with higher rankings.

10. How can Swarm Digital Marketing help with SEO strategies in light of the Yandex source code leak?

Swarm Digital Marketing stays updated on the latest leaks, breakthroughs, and trends in search engine algorithms. Their team of experts can use the insights from the Yandex source code leak to optimize your digital marketing strategies and achieve better results.