Yandex, the top search engine in Russia, has reportedly announced that it no longer counts links as a ranking factor when delivering search results for commercial queries.
This is an interesting move in an industry that has relied heavily upon linking since Google's rise to search power.
WebCertain CEO and international search specialist Andy Atkins-Krüger reports that the company disclosed the news at the Internet Business Conference in Moscow. He also spoke with Alexander Sadovsky, the head of Yandex's Web Search department:
Speaking to Alexander this morning he explained that this change applies only to commercial queries representing some 10% of the queries Yandex sees. “There is a lot of noise around the links signal particularly for commercial queries and especially in Russia. We see a lot of paid links and even automated paid links where there is no human actually involved. The problem with these links is they’re frequently off-topic and are effectively cheating users.”
Alexander added that they’d observed a significant reduction in the value of the signal derived from links, “Three years ago the influence of links was still significant, two years ago we noticed a significant reduction and last year it became clear that links for commercial queries had dropped out of the top ten most important factors. This change is a natural continuation of that trend.”
The search engine is reportedly taking over 800 ranking factors into consideration, and a major one is how users engage with a site.
Commercial queries are getting interesting in search in general. Look at some of the stuff Google has been doing lately.
For one, the company is toying around with branded banner ads on some commercial searches, breaking a promise it made years ago, as many have pointed out.
— SYNRGY (@synrgyapp) October 23, 2013
Obviously Google has changed its shopping experience significantly with paid listings now the only product results available.
We've also recently seen Google make suggestions for branded search results on generic queries, which some find a bit troubling.
According to Atkins-Krüger, Yandex's changes will go into effect next year, starting in Moscow.