Yandex’s Latest Update Tackles “Low Quality” Head On

Yandex’s new algorithmic filter “for low-quality business” is the start in the Search Engine’s fight against fraudulent sites, scammers, dishonest affiliates, and other low-quality “dubious” sites.

Russian SEO experts have been publishing thoughts around the new update, as have many SEO practitioners in the forums.

There are a number of “tangible” factors that form part of what (we believe) this update will look at, but for the most part, the new algorithm will adopt a Google-tyle YMYL model, and also focus on customer feedback and reviews of the organization.

This isn’t the first time that Yandex has updated how they handle reviews this year, as the Y1 update introduced organization review scores. Going even further back, in June 2020 Yandex Market revealed they are sharing review data between different Yandex platforms based on how users shop online and rate their experiences.

The New Update

It’s thought that websites that will be adversely affected by the new update will be websites that…

  • Fall under a category or classification outlined by Google’s YMYL (for comparison)
  • Websites in the betting and online casino niche
  • Review websites with heavy pop-unders
  • Affiliate websites
  • Service businesses that have poor reviews on providing poor customer service
  • Any niche or vertical in which scams and fraud are common
  • Based on data patterns, organizations that resell clients and contacts to “partners”

This may also affect good organizations as well as bad actors.

Webmasters who write to Plato based on relatively immediate and drastic ranking drops are getting blunt, obvious answers back and that they are seeing negative experiences online in relation to their organization and have taken steps to prevent spreading the negative experiences.

Below is a translated email from the Plato team to a webmaster, impacted by this update:

October 2021 Quality Update – Fallout

Given this is a new step for Yandex, there could be new opportunities for “black hat” practices, or even new avenues of SERP manipulation, for example:

  • Competitors could spam Map cards and other business profiles with negative reviews, and negative buzzwords to trigger Yandex’s filter and cause “distrust” in the site.
  • Businesses who aren’t able to harness a high volume of positive reviews, in comparison to competitors (potential legitimacy issues) will be unfairly punished.
  • Yandex’s own services could potentially benefit in certain niches.

By the same token, there is also an opportunity for organizations to become more competitive through:

  • Better and stronger post-sale engagement processes to encourage a positive review and comment funnel
  • YATI (machine learning) and general “signal” generation (ML box-ticking) may become more relevant.
  • “Other” commercial factors will become even more important (meaning genuine businesses and genuine marketing should be more valuable to Yandex’s algo than those trying to game it).
  • Businesses can take advantage of other review services and business portals outside of Yandex’s own services.

If you’ve seen any changes from the algorithm update, please let us know in the comments!

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 and Sloth.Cloud, and founder of