Due to fairly high interest on my recent post “opening a Baidu PPC account“, it seemed appropriate to follow this up with another one of my favourite non-Google search engines – Yandex. With over 60% of the Russian search market and much stronger CTR on PPC ads than any other search engine – you must utilise Yandex advertising. Direct to get the most from Russian search marketing.

So, what do you need to do to open and run a Yandex Advertising PPC Account:

1. Get yourself a Yandex email address

As with almost all search engines, you need to have a local engine address to access their platform. Yandex is no different and to actually create a Yandex. Direct account, you must first have a Yandex.Mail account.

The good news! You can do this directly on the PPC interface during “sign-up” process and you can also link this account to an existing account through forwarding filters. On the other hand, you could also set up your own email account on Yandex. For example, I can create a @markburns.ru account for free! So a mark@markburns.ru would cost me nothing to run or set up. Handy, if you are looking to impress Russian clients (particularly if you’re a start-up).

2. You will need a Russian site

One of Yandex’s biggest annoyances is Russian ads linking to non-Russian landing pages. If you attempt this, your ads will be declined – and the decline is instant. Yandex runs a moderation system across any PPC campaign. This means all ads and keywords have to undergo moderation from Yandex before go-live. Unlike Google, this isn’t an automatic check where certain elements will always bi-pass the system, this is a scrupulous check on all ads and keywords to ensure they match up to Yandex policy.

Don’t have a Russian site? Perhaps think about just translating a landing page with a direct call to action. Russian users will have much stronger engagement levels with a Russian site but a part-Russian site would still be helpful. You can run non-Russian sites through Russian PPC but you must put the target language inside ad text. For example, my Russian PPC ad must finish with “(English language site)” if I’m running an English site. But let’s be honest, would you click on a PPC ad which had “(Russian language site)” after running a search on a .co.uk search engine under an English search term – probably not.

3. Get yourself familiar with the interface

Yandex is completely different to most other search engines. For example, in Google you have ad groups where keywords and ad text sit under. In Yandex, it’s one ad that becomes your ad group and keywords are placed behind this ad. There are also differences in bidding, budget handling, optimizing etc. See my post on “5 Reasons Russia’s Yandex.Direct is Better Than Adwords”.

Aside from its differences, it’s important to understand the interface as that will be your sole tool in creating, driving and optimizing your PPC account. There is an offline editor tool available but it’s still in beta and the early tests remind me of the old-school Yahoo editor – which was quite possibly the worst editing tool ever invented. Plus, the tool is only available in Russia!

4. You will need to speak Russian

That leads me nicely to my next point; you will need to speak Russian. The interface is in English to a point. However, once we move to secure payment area, the English platforms disappears and we’re back to the original Russian .ru version. Similarly, with any FAQs, documentation, contact or advisory links – these are mostly in Russian!

Interestingly too, as there are no ad groups, there is no easy identification of what your Russian keywords mean. The list of ads per campaign are all in Russian, if you cannot understand your ad or your keyword (perhaps they were created by an external supplier) then you will not be able to understand what specifically is performing and what isn’t.

You can put tags on each ad to categorise them but there is a limit to the number of tags per campaign and also these tags are not present in reports.

5. Be nice to Yandex Account Managers

Sounds a bit ridiculous but get a Yandex advertising manager and make them your best friend!

Google have tried to push the idea that any small business can use Adwords and that personal Google account managers will help them whatever their budget. And in fairness, we have seen this! Yandex support team are equally great help if you are spending enough money through PPC, but they are also near invisible if you are spending less than their “threshold”.

From an agency perspective, the trick is to grab yourself a good account manager on a high spending account and then request their help on lower spending accounts. In theory, they should not help you but how can you turn down a request from your best friend? And they really are great help. They will transfer money, move budget, allow post-pay and even optimize your account for you.

From an individual perspective, this is harder because you might not have this budget in the first place. My advice is to stick accounts on as fuller budget as possible in one go and then steadily decline spend to your optimal level. This might mean running lower than normal spend for a couple of months after that high spending month at point of launch – but you will have got yourself a high-powered friend at Yandex!

These are a few generic tips to help you open and run your Yandex.Direct PPC account. To really be successful in Yandex Advertising, you must understand the platform well and also understand your market and user in Russia. Finding the right international marketing agency can help you with this.

Is there any other tips you can think of to help lost Yandex.Direct travellers? Is there any additional questions you want answering?