Falsehood & Mimicry Penalty Enforced – Mirror Update

Since the end of last week, Russian webmasters have begun to receive massive notifications in Yandex Webmaster about the downgrading of the site’s position in the search for mimicry – a strong resemblance to other popular websites.

Webmasters have reported that affected niches including commercial resources on financial and software topics have been affected more than other niches. The latter have a drop in traffic by 50-70%.

In response to contacting the Yandex support service, webmasters received the response:

In order to reduce the likelihood of users going to a non-original site, a special algorithm checks resources for signs of similarity. It doesn’t have to be the site structure. It can also be a favicon, title, etc. Pay attention to how your site looks on the search results page. If the user might think that this is an official site, the algorithm will most likely think so too.

As soon as the algorithm sees that changes have been made to the site and the site stops misleading users, the restriction will be lifted. This will happen within a month after the changes are made.

To reduce the likelihood of users going to a non-original site (a mirror site), a special algorithm checks resources for a number of signs, for example:

  • The site or service does not have its own valuable functionality or content;
  • Pages are optimized for navigation queries about popular sites, businesses, and services;
  • High visual similarity with the original site (for example, in page titles, use of the company name, favicons);
  • The site was created for monetization on someone else’s navigation intent traffic;
  • The site does not solve the issue(s) that the user is looking to resolve.

If Yandex determines that the site has signs of similarity with the original resource, the site’s position in the search results is lowered.

If the site is similar to the original source but does not seek to mislead users, the algorithm will track this – the state of the site in the search results should not change. Despite this, a site that does not provide value to visitors will not be able to rank high in search results.

This update, or new filter, has not been officially announced or named by Yandex, but as this targets mimicry, Russian Search News is going to name this the Mirror Update.

This is not to be confused with how Yandexh handles duplicate content, although this will play a part in this. This update is to target more sinister activity in which a site tries to mirror another site.

You can read how Yandex updated their duplicate pages documentation here, and our take on how Yandex handles duplicate content.


Dan Taylor
Dan Taylor is an experienced SEO consultant and has worked with brands and companies on optimizing for Russia (and Yandex) for a number of years. Winner of the inaugural 2018 TechSEO Boost competition, webmaster at HreflangChecker.com and Sloth.Cloud, and founder of RussianSearchNews.com.