Google dominates much of the search market worldwide, yet search is a global industry filled with ambitious challengers ready to dethrone the American champion. Among these international challengers is Yandex, the Russian search engine with roots dating back to the late eighties.
Yandex claims about 60 percent of the search market in Russia. However, the battle for the Russian market has gotten increasingly fierce in recent years as Yandex strives to fend off Google and other competitors. In this post, we consider the past, present and future of Yandex as it battles for search supremacy both at home and abroad.
Unlike some of Google’s newer domestic competitors, Yandex is no small potato. Yandex had revenues of $622.2 million in its 2011 fiscal year and the company is traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol YNDX.
Yandex had some 3,600 full-time employees as of last September, with offices in Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, and Switzerland. The Russian firm also has a research and development office in Palo Alto, California known as Yandex Labs.
The Yandex search engine uses a proprietary search technology with two crawlers – the main crawler and another crawler known as “Orange” – that operate according to the timing of a special scheduling program. Scheduling involves factors like links and update frequency.
Yandex approaches the vexing problem of ambiguity (if I search “Giants,” do I want football or baseball?) with a technology called “Spectrum” that returns an entire spectrum of search results that match different user intents with search frequency taken into account. Spectrum performs a fully automated analysis of about 5 billion search queries several times a week.
And like Google, Yandex has done some innovative research on language translation. Yandex uses a proprietary machine translation technology that’s based on statistical regularities. This statistical method of translation allows the machine translation to evolve with the language as new words are added to the language model.
Mess with the Face, You Get the Frown
Not content merely to focus on Russia, Yandex put a significant focus on international markets last fall with the announcements of its own web browser, an Android app store and a deal with Apple to supply mapping data. While the browser and app store were rolled out in Russia, Yandex plans to expand them worldwide. Yandex also garnered headlines with a voice-activated visual search engine for Facebook called Wonder. Apparently, Facebook wasn’t thrilled about Wonder and quickly cut its data access (along with Twitter’s Vine app, among others).
So despite the technology of Yandex, some analysts doubt that Yandex can compete globally with the likes of Bing and Google. What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how Yandex (or other Google search competitors) will fare in the long term.
To find out what a page-one ranking on Google really means, check out our CTR study: A Tale of Two Studies: Establishing Google & Bing Click-Through Rates.