It’s estimated that Russia has almost 79-million smartphone users, and this is expected to grow to more than 93-million by 2021.
As a result, the mobile search experience and mobile SEO has taken heavy focus in the past couple of years.
In May 2017 the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service ruled that Google’s default and restrictive search engine settings on Android devices were not in the best interest of the consumer and were anti-competitive.
As a result, Google was ordered to open up the Android platform and allow other search-engines to be selected as the device’s default.
The Vladivostok Algorithm
Introduced in February 2016, Vladivostok changed Yandex’s core algorithm and how websites and content cater for the mobile user and mobile experience.
Since November 2015 Yandex had been tagging websites within search results as mobile-friendly, which was only around 18-percent of Russian websites. This was an early signal to alert webmasters that they needed to begin making mobile-first, responsive or mobile versions of their websites.
When Vladivostok was released, websites not yet mobile-friendly weren’t automatically relegated down the rankings in favor of those that were. They did begin to see ranking fluctuations however, depending on the device a user was using.
While mobile-friendliness is only one of the hundreds of ranking factors, it is a critical factor in user experience.