While Google is big everywhere, Yandex is huge in Russia. Their language skills and local approach make them key to Russia’s internet.
As the largest search engine in Russia, Yandex is a familiar name for many. But for those unfamiliar with this tech giant, Yandex remains a mystery.
You may have heard the name in passing but aren’t quite sure what Yandex is or does. From its origins as a search engine to expansion into areas like e-commerce, transportation, and more, Yandex’s reach is vast.
By the end of this article, you’ll understand how Yandex started, its many services, products, and everything you need to know.
History of Yandex
Launched in 1997 by Arkady Volozh, Yandex began as a project of Comptek International. It incorporated as Yandex Inc. in 2000 and opened its headquarters in Moscow.
Yandex presented contextual advertising on its search engine in 1998. This innovative model analyzed search queries to display relevant ads. YandexAdvertising, their advertising service, launched in 2000 and now serves over 4 million clients.
In 2011, Yandex was listed as a public company on NASDAQ, raising $1.3 billion. They launched services in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and other nations.
Yandex vs. Google
Yandex is the dominant search engine in Russia, claiming over 63% of the search market compared to Google’s 45%. Its algorithms are tailored to Russian users, providing superior results for queries in the Russian language.
Yandex supports over 60 languages but focuses on Russian and former Soviet countries. Their algorithms are trained on massive amounts of data from Russian speakers, allowing them to understand nuances in the language.
While Google reigns globally, Yandex is unparalleled in the Russian market. Their linguistic capabilities, locally-focused algorithms, and advertising platform have secured Yandex’s status as the gateway to the Russian internet.
Key Features of Yandex
Yandex offers many valuable features beyond web search, including:
1. Yandex Translate
Yandex Translate is Yandex’s free online translation service. It can translate between any 100 languages online and works offline. Yandex Translate is a multifunctional translator that allows translating:
- Texts: You can enter or paste text, sentences, or paragraphs into the translator and get the translation instantly.
- Websites: Yandex Translate will scan the page and translate all the text into your chosen language.
- Documents: Yandex Translate supports the translation of documents in popular formats like DOCX, PPTX, and PDF.
- Pictures: The visual translation feature uses optical character recognition to detect and translate text in images and photos.
2. Yandex Disk (Cloud)
Yandex Disk is Yandex’s cloud storage service. It allows you to upload and access files from anywhere.
With Yandex Disk, you can create shareable links for any file or folder. Share the link with anyone, and they can view or download the file, even if they don’t have a Yandex account.
You can also create shared folders to collaborate with others. Set permissions for shared files and folders to allow viewers to comment, edit, or upload new files.
Aside from that, Yandex Disk has additional useful features like:
- Version history to revert files to previous versions
- Trash folder to recover deleted files
- PDF viewer to read PDFs directly in the browser
- Media player to stream audio and video files
- Basic editing tools for documents and spreadsheets
3. Yandex Maps
Yandex Maps is Yandex’s free mapping service. It offers detailed maps of locations worldwide and provides directions and estimated arrival times for driving, public transit, walking, and cycling.
Yandex Maps provides maps for the entire world. Some key features include:
- Offline maps: Download maps when you have no data connection. Search and navigate without an Internet connection.
- Traffic data: See live traffic conditions and traffic jams to plan the fastest route.
- Satellite imagery: View high-resolution satellite images for most locations.
- Transit info: Plan subway, bus, tram, and other transit options.
- My Places: Save your favorite locations like home, work, or points of interest to find directions to and from there quickly.
- Lane guidance: See which lane you must be in for exits and turns to avoid missing your route.
Yandex Maps is available as a mobile app for Android and iOS and on the web. The mobile apps offer additional features like ride-sharing options to estimate fares and wait times for taxis, Uber, and Yandex.
4. Yandex Mail
Yandex Mail is a free email service from the Russian search engine. It offers features like:
- Unlimited email storage
- Built-in translation
- Spam and antivirus protection
- Message templates and reminders
With Yandex Mail, you can send and receive emails and create email groups to stay in touch with friends or coworkers. You can even set up automatic replies when you’re away from your inbox.
Yandex Mail is worth considering if you’re looking for an easy-to-use, full-featured free email service. Sign-up is quick and straightforward, and Yandex Mail works great on both desktop and mobile.
5. Alice (Voice Assistant)
Alice is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Yandex, Russia’s leading tech company. It has a friendly female voice provided by Tatyana Shitova, who dubbed Scarlett Johansson’s character in the Russian version of the movie “Her.” Her voice sounds natural and helps bring Alice to life.
Alice has many useful capabilities, such as:
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- Play music, podcasts, and radio through streaming services
- Answer questions on weather, sports scores, unit conversions, etc.
- Set reminders, timers, and alarms
- Control smart home devices like lights, thermostats, and TVs
Alice is available on Android, iOS, and Windows devices. She can be accessed through the Yandex mobile app, Yandex Browser and Yandex Launcher. Alice is currently only available in Russian, but Yandex plans to release English and Turkish versions.
Major Core Business Products in Yandex
Yandex offers several core business products to provide solutions for companies and developers. Below are some that you should know:
1. Speech Kit
SpeechKit’s speech recognition technology can convert spoken words into written text instantly. It functions in various English, Russian, Turkish, and Kazak languages.
In addition to speech recognition, SpeechKit offers high-quality text-to-speech conversion using Avant neural networks. This feature allows the software to yield natural-sounding speech from written text in multiple languages.
The voices available in SpeechKit come with diverse tones, accents, and speech styles to cater to distinct demands and applications.
2. Cat Boost
CatBoost is devised to handle categorical data more efficiently than other machine-learning libraries. It can work with categorical features without encoding, preventing loss of information. This allows CatBoost to achieve higher accuracy, especially for data with many categorical features.
CatBoost is used for:
The library supports both CPU and GPU learning and can be used for training ensembles of models. CatBoost delivers state-of-the-art results on many machine learning competitions and real-world tasks.
3. Map APIs
Yandex offers map APIs as part of its services. Their Maps SDK lets you add interactive maps to your mobile apps and websites. It offers satellite imagery, street maps, and hybrid maps across the globe.
Through this, you can customize the map with tiles, geo objects, and layers. The Maps SDK supports gesture and tilt controls, traffic data layers, and turn-by-turn navigation. It has geocoding and reverse geocoding to alter addresses to coordinates and vice versa.
Plus, the Maps SDK can even show the user’s location with the accuracy of a street address. It supports displaying points of interest, routes, and traffic data on the map.
4. Database Administration – Click House
ClickHouse is an open-source column-oriented database management system used by Yandex. It is devised for running real-time analytical queries and updates.
As a database administrator (DBA), you manage the ClickHouse database. This includes:
- Checking active sessions and locks to monitor database activity and performance.
- Managing databases, tables, columns, and indexes.
- Managing users, roles, permissions, and quotas to control access to data.
- Check query metrics, table sizes, and compression rates.
- Performing backups, restoring from backups, and migrating data.
5. Apps Metrica
Apps Metrica is Yandex’s solution for analyzing mobile app data. It provides tools for:
Monitor ad campaigns by analyzing metrics like impressions, clicks, conversions, and ROI. See which ads are most effective in acquiring new users.
Gain insights into how users interact with your app. See metrics like sessions, retention, engagement, and churn. Find out which popular features and see how people navigate your app.
Get crash reports to fix bugs and improve app stability. See details like device models, OS versions, and stack traces to understand why crashes happen.
With AppMetrica, you’ll get a clear picture of how people discover and use your mobile app. The analytics platform uses semantic analysis to provide metrics that are easy to understand.
App owners can then make data-driven decisions to optimize app performance, increase engagement, and boost revenue.
Should You Optimize in Yandex?
Optimizing your website for Yandex can be very beneficial if you want to reach Russian internet users. Below are some reasons why you need one:
Yandex has an overwhelmingly prevalent market share in its home country of Russia. This number has grown, with Yandex occupying 71 percent of the Russian desktop search market in 2022.
Overall, this shows how Yandex has secured its place as the favored search engine for Russian internet users. The company’s search engine and even other services like maps, mail, and taxi booking have become deeply embedded into Russians’ daily lives.
2. Geotargeting System
Yandex’s geotargeting system allows advertisers to focus their ads on specific geographic areas within Russia. You can target cities, regions, districts, or neighborhoods.
Geotargeting your ads on Yandex has many benefits, like:
- Focus your ad spend on the locations where your potential customers are.
- Improve click-through rates.
- Boost conversion rates.
- Optimized for local search rankings.
To set up geotargeting in Yandex, select the locations you want to target from the cities, regions, and districts list. You can target multiple locations in a single campaign.
Leveraging Yandex’s geotargeting system is key to successful advertising on the platform.
3. Mobile-Friendly Interface
Yandex prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results. To determine if a website is mobile-friendly, Yandex checks if the pages adapt to mobile devices by:
- Resizing images, text, and other page elements to fit smaller screens
- Allowing users to zoom and scroll easily
- Removing distractions like pop-ups
While this icon does not directly impact ranking, mobile-optimized sites tend to rank higher over time.
Yandex Direct, Yandex’s advertising platform, offers a mobile app that provides advertisers with features for managing campaigns on the go. The app allows users to:
- View stats on ad impressions, clicks, conversions, and costs
- Adjust bids and budgets
- Add or remove keywords
- View reports
Advertisers should make the most of Yandex Direct on mobile and desktop for the best results. An optimized user experience across devices will improve campaign performance in the long run.
Wrap It Up
Whether you use Yandex for search, maps, transportation, or one of its many other tools, you can feel confident knowing you can access innovative products created with cutting-edge technology.
Yandex may have started in Russia, but with their ongoing international expansion, people worldwide will soon understand why Yandex means “search for meaning” in Russian.
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