Yandex is the Dominant Search Engine in Russia and the Fourth Largest in the World.
On January 27, 2023, Yandex experienced one of the most significant data breaches in recent years, marking its second breach in less than a decade. In 2015, a former Yandex employee tried to sell the search engine’s code on the black market for about $30,000.
The recent leak exposed 1,922 ranking factors, with over 64% marked as unused or outdated. However, as the SEO community and experts further investigated, they discovered additional files containing a total of approximately 17,800 ranking factors. This was only the beginning, as the leaked file was just labeled as the “kernel
SEO for Yandex: My Guide from Two Years Ago Remains Relevant Today
Like Google, Yandex has always been transparent about its algorithm updates and advancements in machine learning. Some of the notable updates from the past few years include:
- Vega, which expanded the index size.
- Mimicry, aimed at penalizing fake websites impersonating brands.
- Y1 and Y2 updates, introducing YATI.
- Adoption of IndexNow and a new rollout of the PF filter.
For me, this data leak is a thrilling opportunity, especially as I run an SEO news website as a hobby dedicated to covering Yandex SEO news in Russia with over 600 articles. I have also been a speaker at the Optimization Conference, the largest SEO event in Russia. This leak is a chance to compare Yandex’s public statements to its confidential codebase.
In 2019, I had the opportunity to interview Yandex’s Search team engineers and ask questions from the Western SEO community with the help of Yandex’s PR team. You can read the interview here.
Yandex, primarily known for its dominance in Russia, also has a presence in Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Georgia. The data leak, believed to be politically motivated and caused by a rogue employee, includes information from Yandex’s various products such as Search, Maps, Mail, Metrika, Disc, and Cloud. The leak comprises of 44GB of data from Yandex’s central repository, Arcadia.
the Yandex data leak on January 27, 2023, is one of the largest data breaches that the company has experienced in recent years. Despite the contents of the archive being outdated and some of the code fragments being test algorithms, there are still active portions of the leaked code that are in current use. Yandex has conducted an investigation and audit, revealing some errors that violate its own internal principles. Therefore, it is possible that changes to portions of the leaked code may occur in the near future. Overall, the data leak has provided valuable insights into Yandex’s ranking factors and algorithms, and its impact on the SEO community and the search engine’s future operations remains to be seen.