Internet promotion in Russia and CIS countries: what you should know?

Nowadays Internet does not only make people to shop, but also determines when and where they will do shopping. The CIS countries are no exception. For example, for the past 5 years (2011- 2016) the number of Russian internet users has experienced solid growth and now 102,258,256 people of 143,439,832 of total population in Russia are internet users.
As a result, the amount of the websites grows and the popular sites in Russia offer wider range of products and brands, different payment methods, price and product comparison and customer feedback. These top Russian websites have to rival such famous sites in Russia as Aliexpress, eBay, Amazon, Asos and other world-famous shopping giants. 

Some years ago it was enough to have a good website for successful e-commerce business, but nowadays people tend to switch from laptop and PC internet browser surfing to smartphone and tablet apps – in Russia in 2015 17% of all internet purchases were made through smartphones or tablets.  

The sad truth is that online Russia is the same mystery for foreign companies as well as offline Russia for foreign people. Here are some facts about Russian internet space to make up your mind about the best strategy in business promotion. 

1.  Russia has the largest amount of potential buyers in the whole Europe – 102,000,000 users.
2. 71,3% of the population uses Internet and the percentage is increasing (see table below)
*estimate for July 1, 2016
Source: Internet Live Stats (www.InternetLiveStats.com)
3. The most popular website is Russian social network vk.com
4. The most popular search engine is Yandex (53%), 2 place – Google (36%), 3 place – Mail.ru (2%), 2% - other search engines. 

As it’s seen from the list above the leaders are top Russian social networking sites (vk.com and ok.ru and famous Russian search engine sites (yandex.ru and mail.ru). Below we will tell you how to use social networking sites for business promotion and the differences in business promotion using such search engines as Yandex and Google.

Yandex. Everything will be found.

Yandex search is №1 among the famous sites in Russia that offers similar services as Google and even more (free emailing, maps, including live traffic maps and navigator, store, news portal, videos, music, photo storage, translator, etc.). Yandex is a dominating company in Russia: more than 50% of Russian internet users find information on the Internet with the help of Yandex and the rest use at least one of other services that it offers. Many Russians start their day with Yandex news or Yandex maps. The search results are logically presented, has favicons to highlight your brand among others. 
Although it may seem similar to Google there is its own specificity in algorithm. That’s why to advertise on Yandex is not an easy task for foreign SEO specialists
Here is a short Yandex SEO guide:
  • Yandex differentiates sites according to the “Page rank” or otherwise Thematic Index of Citation (TIC). TIC – is the number of links to your website/page from other reliable and relevant sources. Yandex minds quality, but not quantity.  
  • Behavioural factors play more significant role in Yandex ranging in comparison with Google.
  • Comprehensive affiliate filter helps Yandex to distinguish websites that belong to the same owner.
  • Yandex applies very strict rules when it comes to content quality.

Ok, Google.ru

Google in Russia is the second well liked search engine and the 8th frequently visited website, mostly due to its popularity among young audience. 
5 things to know about google.ru:
  • Low competition
  • Less amount of filters and algorithm updates 
  • More aggressive linking because of black market of links buying
  • White SEO with legal linking is not that effective because of cheap paid links
  • Google Local Search offers few websites and appears not that often as, for example, in USA
Both Google and Yandex offer an opportunity to promote your business using PPC advertising. Here are the sources that Google and Yandex offer for your PPC&CPA traffic:

Yandex Direct

Yandex advertising offers both text and graphic advertising in the area of search results on the Yandex site and on third-party websites that are part of Yandex Advertising Network. Yandex offers a special discount for agencies, so it can be more profitable to work with certified agencies that will adjust your advertising for the maximum outcome. Unlike Google, Yandex doesn’t apply Quality Score to your landing page, thus there is no difference what the quality of your landing page is. The pivotal factor in Yandex advertising is CTR which shows how many clicks your ad block gains, thus giving your ad block higher priority.
Google AdWords
Google AdWords in Russia works using same methods as English version. The only thing you should keep in mind is the peculiarities of Russian language. In Russian language words are usually longer than in English, and pay attention the endings in the word phrases.  

Make your business social

There is no secret that the most time people spend on the internet they spend on social networks. Russian internet users are no exception from this rule. Recent statistics on the audience and their writing behavior on Russian social platforms will help you to get your bearings in the world of Russian social networks.
VKontakte or VK (Russian: ВКонтакте, literally "in contact") 
  • biggest social network in Europe
  • available in different languages 
  • mostly popular among Russian-speaking users (especially Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Israel)
  • the total amount of users exceeds 230 million, 54 million of them visit it every day
  • approximately 65% of users are from Russia
  • half of the audience is older than 25 years old
While VK has such a huge audience it would be unwise to skip this one of the top Russian social networking sites for business promotion.  
Detailed information that VK offers its users to share (such as home city, education, job, political views, hobbies and even attitude to smoking) gives you great options for your ad targeting. In VK you can promote your VK page, your VK Group and also your website. The principle of successful ad campaign is quite easy: nice picture, short appealing text, right target audience. If you want to promote your VK Page there is an option to add “Join the Group” button.
You can choose between payment per clicks (CPC) or per 1,000 impressions (CPM). The CPC and CPM prices depend on auction. You can stop or resume your campaign at any time just by clicking relevant button.
For now, Vkontakte offers two types of advertising:

1.Targeted ads in the private newsfeed.
2.Paid post marketplace, to advertise on VK communities.
Sponsored Posts in Relevant Communities will help you to represent your brand in informal way.
- any type of content: branded photo, image, video, etc.
- appears in users’ newsfeed
- offers statistics

(+) highly effective to get followers to VK page or community
(+) great results in the audience reach 
(+) quick result achievement
(-) poor targeting (only according to the interest)
Target Ads
Desktop formats:
Websites promotion (yellow/left)
Community promotion in news feed (yellow)
Posts promotion in newsfeed (blue)

Targeting settings:
  • Location (country, city)
  • Demography (age, sex, relationship status)
  • Personal hobbies, Interests
  • Work and Education
  • OS
  • Other information (device, browser…)

(+) best results for long-term support campaigns
(+) highly customizable targeting
Mobile Ads
  • Interactive banners in mobile version of VK newsfeed
  • Comprehensive targeting settings and mobile tracking 
  • Price is calculated by auction, CPI around 30 cents
VK is a great tool for informal promotion of your brand. The profound targeting options help you to broaden your clientele and successfully enter Russian market. To be sure to get the best results from your ad campaign address to the SMM specialists who can create involving and viral content and set targeting settings for the highest efficiency.


Odnoklassniki or OD (Russian: Одноклассники, literally "classmates") 
  • 40 million Russian users 
  • Second popular Russian social network
  • Older audience (about 35% of its users are from 35 to 44 age old). 
Russian social network Odnoklassniki offers brand pages that contain discussion topics tabs, section for multimedia and external links. The most involving content is photos, videos and quizzes. So try to fill your brand page with interesting, entertaining and useful content to make people share it and get positive results. Bear in mind that Russian internet users live in nine different time zones so choose the right time to publish your posts. 

Other social trends in Russia and CIS countries

1. Instagram audience is growing rapidly, most of them are active users of other social media – more than 50% of messages are cross-posted in other social media.
2. Facebook in Russia is continuously growing. Most of the Facebook users in Russia visit it for business communication only. According to the brand analytics 30 % of the topics discussed by the Russian audience are business-related messages. 
3. Twitter in Russia is less active in comparison to other social media. The positive outcome from this fact is that spambots are less active, while still 30% of all tweets are spam.

Monthly audience

In comparison with the previous year the monthly activity of the most social networks has dropped down, other, on the contrary, show rapid growth. 
The first place still belongs to VK that remains the biggest social network in Russia with the monthly audience of 46.6 million visitors in the country.
Odnoklassniki is on the second place and has 31.5 million visitors per month. 
With the monthly audience of 21.7 million Facebook is the third popular social network in Russia. 
Moi Mir (My World) and LiveJournal share the fourth place with 16.6 and 15.2 million of visitors each month respectively. 
At the end of 2015 Twitter’s audience in Russia was 7.7 million visitors.
While Instagram hit the number of 12.3 million visitors with an impressive increase of 2 million users over last year. 


Another tendency that can be observed in Russian social media is the “grown up” audience, while the share of users under 18 years old has dropped. Though the most of the teens prefer VK to other social media.
According to the statistical data users aged from 18-24 and 25-34 prefer LiveJournal and VKontakte, older generation gives preference to Facebook, Moi Mir and Odnoklassniki.

As for the gender, there’s obvious prevalence of women on Instagram and Odnoklassniki, slight dominance on Moi Mir, Facebook and VK. Men prevail on such social networks as Twitter and LiveJournal.

So far you’ve got acquainted with the essential information about Russian internet world. But knowing the situation is only half the battle. Another important condition is to know your audience, their cultural background, their mentality and, of course, speak the same language. Therefore, to win the battle for the Russian market your need a reliable ally who knows how to attract your audience using the whole toolkit of internet promotion in Russia and CIS countries.

Webcom Media has profound experience in successful promotion of business of any scale. We are recognized certified partner of Yandex, Google and Target.my.com and can help you to enter the market of CIS counties successfully. We can back up your targeted advertising campaigns with a branded social network profile and comprehensive community management. If you have any questions about promotion in Russia and CIS countries contact us and see your traffic skyrocketing!