Optimizing Your Yandex.Zen Channel To Grow Your Brand

Yandex.Zen is fast becoming a popular publishing platform for both written and video content, and alongside brands and publishers, affiliate marketers are also investing time and resources into producing content for the platform.

From experience, posting helpful, non-commercial content to Zen can help increase brand awareness, brand authority and trust with users, and with the correct tracking in place – be attributed to some leads.

It’s wrong to think of Zen as directly being a channel you’d get ROI from, but more a channel you can use to gain SERP visibility, as well as brand visibility through other Zen integrations in both other Yandex (and non-Yandex) products.

Below is a brief overview of the basics for Yandex.Zen, and how to get your channel off to a good start.

Channel Fans & Subscribers

Subscribers are best gained through a more traditional content marketing approach. Choose a good topic, writing interesting and engaging pieces, produce helpful videos, write good and catchy headlines – and importantly, not too heavily commercially focused.

Most users don’t go to Zen to be sold to, so don’t sell.

You should try and make your blog as interesting as possible, and attract subscribers by linking to your Zen channel from other social media networks as well as encouraging social sharing from your readers, as well as making it accessible through simple click to tweet embeds.

But make sure you keep an eye on your Karma scores and performance indicators.

Like most platforms, buying channel subscribers/fans or participating in mutual following doesn’t yield any tangible results – other than potentially making your channel seem more popular to new users and potential new followers, the algorithms that govern Zen and try to identify the “cheaters” are sophisticated and you will likely get caught out.

Buying subscribers can affect your channel karma, causing channel performance issues.

Yandex’s stance on purchasing subscribers is that it is a disservice, and unnatural increases and decreases in your subscriber numbers (vis-a-vis with other channels) will be detected by the platform’s machine learning, and your “cheating” will be acknowledged, and the channel closed.

Going viral however on a single post and seeing numbers increase dramatically however will unlikely cause you issues, as these users will also follow other channels and not follow the same patterns as fake followers and bots.

Understanding Karma Scores

Yandex Zen Karma is a special tool that helps authors analyze the success of their channel. Its indicator consists of 5 components, each of which plays a role in the overall assessment. They are:

  • Content Quality
  • Posting Frequency
  • Audience Engagement
  • Audience Growth & Retention
  • (Perceived) Influence

If you achieve a good, high Karma score, the site receives bonus impressions in personal collections and feeds, therefore, every author on Yandex Zen should monitor performance daily/regularly and respond to all changes proactively.

All five elements of Zen Karma are scored out of 20, giving you an overall score out of 100.

Yandex Zen Karma Scores

Karma: Content Quality Score

Simply put, the quality of the content.

Yandex Zen algorithms take into account the originality and uniqueness of the articles posted to the platform, their relevance to the chosen topic, the number of post views, and the average time that readers spend reading the article.

Images (especially unique images – not stock images) can impact your content quality score, so investing in design software to create awesome graphics to compliment your written content can have a positive effect.

Karma: Posting Frequency Score

As you can guess, posting regularly and frequently can improve your metric here.

You should regularly publish new articles, try not to slow down the rhythm set at the beginning so set a pace you can maintain and where possible, add to it.

Karma: Audience Engagement

Zen Karma monitors the reach of likes, the number of comments and channel subscriptions that follow after the publication and sharing of articles. This is why getting a viral popularity spike isn’t a bad thing.

A good way to influence this metric is to actively engage with and request comments on Zen.

Karma: Audience Growth & Retention

New subscriptions are of great importance, but Yandex Zen understands that it’s easy to cheat this metric, and buy subscribers.

As a result, Zen employs artificial intelligence to combat this issue and prevent “false” influencers impacting Zen users.

Therefore, he also analyzes the behavior of people who periodically go to the blog to read the latest articles, but do not subscribe. But they can actively comment, an indicator of engagement and the value of audience growth. In other words, quality is more important than quantity.

Karma: Influence

Basically, how many sites and other Zen channels reference your Zen and how many shares and social interactions are you getting. Again, don’t fake it.

Increasing Zen Karma

If your Karma falls, or you’re wanting to increase efforts (and you’ve not been faking channel subscriptions or buying social shares), the following tips are usually sure-fire ways to improve your Karma, and they’re very basic:

  • Increase your posting rhythm and keep it at a consistent pace
  • Add your own opinions and spin to articles if they are covering general topics, or news/topics other publishers have also covered
  • Try and stir up social shares, comments, and interactions by engaging with your audience, asking for their opinions, or even contributions to topics
  • Don’t be commercial or overly boring, as dud content (in terms of engagement) can impact your channel

It’s also important to note that Karma scores aren’t visible for 3-days for new articles, so don’t panic when your score is zero, despite visibly seeing interaction and shares.

Bad Karma

If you try and manipulate your Karma, or violate other Zen terms you can get bad Karma… Which is effectively a penalty, and will impact your Zen performance.

If you have received confirmation that you have been penalized, then you need to do one of two things:

  • Delete all content that does not meet the requirements of the service and notify moderators through the feedback system (much like a reconsideration request)
  • If you don’t understand what’s the matter, contact the same support team for advice.

Or, leave it, and resign to the fact the channel is penalized and won’t gain any traction.

When is the best time to publish on Yandex Zen?

The peak time in which the largest number of users read their newsfeeds is on weekdays from 6pm to 9pm.

It is worth considering that the moderation in Zen takes about an hour, so, accordingly, it is worth laying some amount of time that will be spent on moderating the article.

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.