Yandex: the best search engine in the world?

Somehow, Yandex, the well known Russian search engine has launched in the UK with very little fanfare. Please forgive me for getting this post up quickly. There is a lot of research I’d like to do before I make to many conclusions, but since when has research got in the way of a good story!

If you like your search engine to have a minimalist homepage, then you’ll love Yandex.

Yandex homepage

Yandex homepage

After a very brief play I’m incredibly impressed at the relative lack of spam and the quality of the results that are being returned. Not to mention the fact that there aren’t any ads.

Take for instance a search for “buy viagra online”, a hotbed of all that is bad on the internet. At the time of writing 3 of the top 5 results Google returns are from hacked .edu domains. It’s hard to look at viagra SERPS and not think spam, but Yandex returns the cleanest set of results I’ve seen for such a search. Buy Viagra Online.

Spam on Yandex...

My 5 seconds look at “car insurance”, a pretty common example of sites that have bought they way up the listings returns a completely different set of results from the ones you might be used to at Google. I’ve not had a chance to dig very deep but a first glance at the results would seem to suggest they are either taking a more aggressive approach to finding and banning paid links that Google is or they are better at removing spam from their index.. Either way, its good news for us whiter than white search agencies.

Check out the results for the following searches.. I guarantee you’ll be impressed.

So far I’m incredibly impressed. Impressed enough that I’m going to make Yandex my default search engine for a while. Impressed enough that if I were at Bing HQ I’d be worried, hell, I’m impressed enough that if I were Google I’d start paying attention to what was going on.

It’s about time Google had a decent competitor, and whilst Yandex have a incredibly long journey ahead of them I for one am hoping they start reducing the dominance of Google.

Duncan Morris

Duncan Morris

Duncan founded Distilled with Will in 2005. He built the, now defunct website CMS from the ground-up, and consulted for some of the company’s first clients. Today Duncan leads the management team and helps to steer...   read more

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  1. It so far has two awesome features which have made me excited:

    Numbered results - the lazy man's call has been answered.
    The cool macro to skip back/forward a page (Ctrl + ->)

    I'm so easily impressed....

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  2. Hi Duncan

    I'm not sure anyone who works in the Russian market would agree Yandex is tougher than Google on filtering out paid links. From talking to them though I know that they set certain conditions on entry for non-Russian websites. Authority and popularity were words that came up often. This filtering process seems to have given them an extremely clean index.

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  3. Hi Nick.

    Thanks for your input. Yandex certainly seem to have a much cleaner index that the other search engines, which the filtering process you mention would certainly give them.

    I'm sad it isn't because they are cracking down on paid links, but I guess a clean index is a step in the right direction. At first glance there were are lot of sites missing that I'd associate with buying links. I guess though if you filter out the low authority/popularity sites, you get a similar set of results.

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  4. I wouldn't be sad about it, keep in mind this is an alpha project and very much the first step.

    The key point here is that Yandex have the financial and technological base + the audience to make this a real contender. This isn't a flash-in-the-pan start-up like we saw with Cuil - Yandex are playing the long game. You're right, Bing and Google should both be taking this very seriously.

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  5. - I guess the price just went up :o)

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  6. It's a pretty nice engine. I like a few things. It seems like their results are accurate (perhaps it needs to be a bit more targeted). I like the numbering and most of all, I think I like the fact that it displays the favicons of the sites.

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  7. Volomike

    Yandex spiders practically synflood servers. On our servers, we block them. These crawlers are evil. You'll find out one day. When we blocked them, but still allowed Google, Bing, and Yahoo spiders (and a few other major players), our server load went down quite a bit.

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  8. The engine definitely looks very good. I made a search for Car Insurance though, and it returned exclusively US sites :-/ The search engine looks awesome and I love the fact that we can use keyboard shortcuts (how could nobody think about this before??), however I think they will have a strong work for local results.
    At the moment you can decide between Russian OR Global... That's a bit limited :-/

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  9. Shalfeya

    Sorry, Guys.
    I'm exierenced enough in SEO in Russia whеrе yandex has more than 60% of the search traffic. And I cannot say that yandex is free from the commercial spam.
    The most of the top sites have a huge budgets for buying "friendly" links from the relative websites. Only for being first in Yandex.
    Yandex also has its own paid directory, and its own rating system based on the PR value.

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  10. I tried it too for a few of our search phrases. I expected to find skewed results like what I find on Yahoo, but the results were very similar to what I am currently getting from Google. And, my competitors are in relatively the same positions as with Google.

    Very interesting and will see what develops with Yandex. I'm in favor of anything that will take some of the monopoly away from Google.

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  11. Very nice!

    Results are pretty accurate and not much spam. I feel that the more weight is being given to domain name and anchor text bombing has less value. Some examples:


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  12. Hi, Volomike,

    Our search engine crawlers shouldn't trouble you more than any other search engine crawlers do. If any of our crawlers overloads your server, would you kindly send us the names (url) of websites which experience this problem? Please, give us information upon the actual load placed on your server by our crawler and tell us what amount of load you would consider adequate.

    You can contact us by this e-mail address:

    We shall do everything within our power to fix the problem as soon as possible, if it lies with us.

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  13. Even on alpha, Yandex seems to be in very good shape. It's clean, simple, and does exactly what we need a search engine to do. Unlike Yahoo! and Google, it isn't cluttered yet with "strategically placed" links from companies and marketers. It does, in the truest sense, seem to provide us with the most democratic Internet search results.

    I'm looking forward to how this site and the company will progress. I'm wondering if they will be able to stay sustain this quality of filtering as they earn more, as the web grows bigger, and as more and more strategies are created to make sure paying companies to stay on top of search indexes.

    Thanks for the heads up on this, Duncan! I'm glad I stumbled on your blog.

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  14. Bo Skog

    I find yandex is a very Good search engine but why Cant they block google adds is a dissappointment.

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