In terms of visibility to consumers, the three most effective and popular methods of improving an online shop’s digital exposure in the Russian Federation are:
Of the three approaches listed above, directing organic traffic to an online website via keyword advertising is a financially appealing and decisively targeted option, and it has proved successful in practice. In terms of overall return, however, it is slower and arguably less effective than the stated alternatives, and the risks associated with this option are greater due to frequently changing web algorithms. There are essentially two major players in the search engine market in Russia: Yandex and Google, which boast market shares of 60.5% and 29.7% respectively. Importantly for an online retailer into this territory, in recent years Google has been increasing in popularity and Yandex’s market share has been declining as a result.
Both of these search engines operate in Russia via very developed algorithms, and a prospective e-Retailer into this territory should plan accordingly and expect the same level of SEO sophistication as would be encountered in Western markets. If your website is in English, the chances of your online shop or product appearing in an organic search in Russia are low unless you have a very niche offering and there are no or few corresponding links in Russian. This is a particularly important consideration as appearing organically on search engines is a huge driver of Russian customers to foreign online shops.
Website analytics play an important role in an e-Retailer’s marketing strategy generally, but it is also worth highlighting that these same analytics contribute to a website’s positioning on domestic search engines. These Search engine algorithms are designed to display a hierarchy of websites with particular preference for pages that attract more consumer time, and e-Retailers looking to improve their digital visibility in the Russian Federation should make use of Yandex’s ‘Yandex Metrica’ and Google’s ‘Google Analytics’ to evaluate their search engine performance. These analytical tools further allow retailers to examine the performance of their online shops by providing a means to analyse customer behaviour, allowing an e-Shop owner to see his webpage navigated by consumers through the consumers’ eyes. This allows him sight of what his customers are clicking, which areas of particular pages attract the most interest and typical customer scrolling habits. Yandex additionally has several unique features for SEO specialists that can prove invaluable when building digital strategies in Russia. WORDSTAT - a word selector tool - will not only help e-Retailers and the right keywords for their SEO activities, but will also display the number of search requests for that specific word/phrase by region and time period.
Organic search via SEO undeniably offers a valuable driver of website traffic, both within Russia and abroad, and it’s important to remember that search engine trends in Russia are consistent with global ones. e-Retailers should therefore take note of certain occurrences across their international expansion initiatives, for example the fact that search engines favour interactive websites - those that engage consumers through mechanisms like commenting upon or ‘liking’ aspects of webpages, or through the embedding of videos. Ultimately, the hierarchy of search engines is dif cult to manipulate, so fresh, multimedia and interactive content in Russian, as well as content relevant to search requests, are vital component of any e-Retailer’s offering.
As with many jurisdictions, within the Russian Federation Google AdWords is a well-known and commonly-used marketing tool. Yandex offers a similar PPC marketing option - Yandex Direct - which together with the reputation of the search engine has achieved considerable success and popularity. These two major tools can form the backbone of an e-Retailer’s PPC strategy in Russia, though there are additional options on the market. Competitors, however, play a comparatively minor role. When putting together a PPC strategy for Russia, an e-Retailer looking to launch a brand presence in the location should always check the price and competition of his selected keywords in both major search engines in order to get the most from his marketing budget and PPC campaign.
Prices and customer conversion rates vary across both tools, and the extent of this largely depends on the state of the market and consumer preference. Often, an e-Retailer can make signficant savings on one specific keyword simply by relocating his PPC budget from one search engine to the other. There are additionally solutions on the market that allow for automatic management of a PPC campaign with several search engines; these can often maximize the benefit of such endeavors, but come at an additional cost. Pay-per-action (PPA), retargeting and other digital tools are also available options, and Yandex leads the way in contextual advertising in the Russian Federation in terms of overall spend.
Russian consumers display a clear preference for certain categories of goods when shopping online, and three in particular take up a signi cant proportion of this online marketplace: consumer electronics and white goods (42%), clothing and footwear (13%), and car parts (10%). Digital sales of clothing and footwear have seen dramatic growth over the past few years, partially due to the fact that consumers are getting used to using the free returns option offered by many e-Retailers in this location.