Russian search engine Yandex made a controversial decision last year when it decided to stop valuing inbound links in its algorithm that ranks search results.
Now it appears Yandex has done an about-face, reversing their previous decision while introducing harsher penalties for paid links.
An abundance of paid links to Russian sites is in part what led to the decision to stop valuing links in the first place. Yandex believed that devaluing all links would put an immediate end to link selling. Much to the dismay of Yandex, link selling only dropped 16% as a result.
Starting in May, Yandex will be rolling out an update that brings value back to naturally acquired links, and penalizes sites that have an abundance of paid links.
This is expected to affect a large number of websites, as it will cover all types of search queries in all regions.
What has unfortunately been left out of this report is how the overall quality of search results was impacted as a result of not counting links. Were searchers more satisfied with the results? Less satisfied? About the same?
It’s interesting that link buying was barely affected, but the goal of any search engine should be to deliver the best possible results to its users. With that in mind, I think it would be beneficial to know whether or not removing links from the algorithm affected the quality of results.
If you happen to be a regular Yandex user, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section.