RUSSIAN SEO TIPS AND GAMING TRENDS


Search environment for gaming in the complex Russian market.


IN FOLLOWING ON from the themes explored in the last issue, it seemed prudent to further pursue our understanding of Russia's search market in relation to gaming by leaking at some key tips and puintas for SEO.

According the facts we highlighted previously, when exploring a complex market such as Russia, it is very important to consider its specifics, thoroughly understand the technology development and Internet penetration rates along with an appreciation of the cultural and linguistic aspects that heavily influence the environment within its social media channels.

These are just some of the many trends and tendencies one would need to consider when assessing one's entry into Eastern European's biggest marketplace.

Here, we will talk about the popular search engines and iGaming products which appeal to the Russian audience.

Russian search engines and the specifics of indexing

It is not a sensational discovery to learn that Yandex.ru is the most popular search engine amongst Russia's web users (Figure i). According to a number of leading sources, its share is around 62 percent with the remainder split between the likes of Google, Rambler and Mail.ru.

Search Engines Share in Russia (Fig 1)



Nevertheless, latest statistics indicate that Yandex's dominance of the market is being challenged by Google, as the search giant continues to claim a higher percentage of the Russian audience. Rambler's position (the search engine has recently resigned itself to its two percent share, being so far adrift of its main competitors) is about to be leapfrogged by the Mail.ru free email service which currently holds the remaining one percent of the top search engines. Indeed, the significantly reduced popularity of Rambler provided the stimulus for its
holding company to enter into a recent partnership with Yandex. According to Lenta.ru, Rambler Media Group's official publication, Yandex search will be used in Rambler.ru as base technology; the latter is planning to enrich with its own services such as news, weather, cinema schedule, website rating, and more.

While Yandex is maintaining its leading position, webmasters should adapt their site codes and practices to ensure higher exposure amongst the local competition in the Russian marketplace.

Yandex ranking specifics and link building

As with most search engines, Yandex ranking is based on the number of relevant external and internal links to the web resources. Link quality is defined by the ranking of the external linking source which, thematically, should be as close as possible to the linking website. This is a very important factor webmasters should consider when linking to third-party resources.

Below are some key points worth considering when aiming to increase your Yandex ranking:

• Share or outsource interesting website content to other high ranking, thematically similar websites.
• A less effective but common practice is participating in the link exchange networks, particularly suitable for rookies.
• Link buying using specific link exchange sources is an additional way of helping a website's Yandex ranking and increased website traffic.

It's generally a pay-for service with monthly repayments made to the third-party source placing one's website links.

• An important thing which separates Yandex from Google is that Yandex doesn't index forums, free advertising boards, guest books, e-newspapers or social networks, thus, linking from any of the above sources will not positively impact ranking in Yandex.
• Yandex ignores links on free-hosted and third-level domain websites; linking from websites not indexed by Yandex is also ineffective.
• The more external links placed on a page along with your link, the less weight this link carries with the indexing search engines. The presence of a single link on a website page significantly increases its weight during indexing.
• Last but not least, any type of link exchange has to be made with Russian resources as Yandex does not account for links from foreign websites. Conversely, link building with foreign resources may result in increased rankings in global search engines.

Gaming trends and keywords appealing to the Russian audience

Each country's gaming market has its specifics and trends, particularly when it comes to the keywords people use to search for information. A detailed analysis of the user behaviour of Russian gaming consumers will help you to identify the keywords to target.

According to Yandex statistics, poker is the most searched for gaming product with over 570,000 monthly searches. Online poker is extremely popular in Russia, having briefly been classified as a sport before the government rescinded the classification. It became popular in 1998, when the first poker website, Planet Poker, was launched. The next year, its first competitor appeared on the market with the opening of

Paradise Poker. Poker's popularity and the relatively low market competition was soon picked up by foreign poker sites, with PokerStars entering the Russian market in 2001 followed by Party Poker in 2003.

Fast forward to the present day and, needless to say, that targeting the keyword 'poker' (Cyrillic spelling: 'Покер') is extremely hard given its overwhelming high monthly search volume.

As evident from Figure 2, sportsbook (searched as 'букмекерская контора') is the second most popular keyword with over 350,000 monthly searches. This product's popularity is growing day-by-day with more and more Russian users opting for online betting, particularly due to the recent legislation restricting all Russian land-based gaming to four remote zones.



Figure 2 also indicates that roulette, currently placed third, is nearly as popular as sportsbook with monthly search volumes nearing the 350,000 mark. This game's historical popularity across Russia has transferred to the online space, and is now enjoyed by a new generation of gaming enthusiasts.

Closing the top four list is casino, with around 200,000 monthly searches. Casino became particularly popular online after the liquidation of the land-based networks of gaming outlets. This is a great opportunity for the online casino product particularly as broadband adoption continues to spread across the country.

It's apparent from Figure 2 that online bingo is not yet commonly practised in Russia. However, the product could see good growth potential if it is integrated with online casino or skill games offerings.

Summary

For the operators exploring Russia's complex marketplace, it's very important to learn its specifics, regional culture and to have an in-depth understanding of the environment to ensure any product offering guarantees ROI. Webmasters willing to exploit Eastern Europe's biggest market must adopt the best practices and key skills to optimise their businesses for Russia's key search engines, paying particular attention to the search principles specifics and trends. In return, this will ensure the target audience is reached.
 
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