Back in 2012, Yandex went Turbo and added Turbo mode to the YaBrowser (Yandex Browser).
Yandex did this by incorporating load reducing compression technology (developed by Opera) to reduce the size of webpages by up to 75 percent on the server side without the need to transcode them. This meant that the browsing experiences of users connected via 3G or low-quality public WiFi networks were greatly improved.
Fast forward to 2017 and today Yandex has announced Turbo pages.
What Are Turbo Pages?
Turbo pages can be likened to Facebook Instant Articles, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), and MIP (Baidu’s Mobile Index Pages) in terms of their stripped back nature.
Turbo pages were originally launched for the YaBrowser in 2016, and automatically activate when a users 3G or WiFi connection drops to 128kbps and can be activated manually by the user.
The new Turbo page rollout means that publishers can take advantage of fast loading content, as well as include ad blocks and banner ads for monetization.
Yandex claims that Turbo pages are easier to implement than Facebook Instant Articles, and they also offer “out of the box” monetization with ad content.
Yandex has listed Turbo’s key features as:
- Content loads 15 times faster on 3G than a standard mobile webpage.
- Has 10 times less content than a standard HTML webpage (images, video, excessive CSS).
- Features ad blocks for contextual and banner ads that can be placed through Yandex (РСЯ) and ADFOX.
- Ads can be monitored through Yandex.Metrica, Google Analytics, and Mediascope.
- Available also in Yandex.News and Yandex.Zen.
In the development of Turbo pages, Yandex has applied a number of its content and quality algorithms, such as Krasnodar and Magadan, and its AI algorithms (MatrixNet, Palekh, and Korolyov) so that users are served quality, time-relevant and query specific content in a timely manner.
“At Yandex, we are constantly working to improve the user experience and the ways publishers engage with users,” said Ivan Smirnov, the head of Yandex Turbo pages. “As the online audience in Russia relies more heavily on mobile, Turbo pages will provide a more fluid user experience. With its fast download time, Turbo pages will bring both users and publishers the benefits of more accessible and contextually relevant content.”
Webmasters and publishers can implement through Yandex.Webmaster (Yandex’s version of Search Console) and can put their content in RSS format to implement Turbo pages.
The Russian Mobile Web
In 2014 it was reported that mobile internet usage surpassed desktop internet usage for the first time, although the number of internet users in the country has risen over the past years (102,258,256 users / 71.3 percent penetration), and the figure currently stands at around 46 percent.
Mobile War: Yandex vs. Google
According to StatCounter, Google and Yandex are currently neck and neck across all platforms in the Russian search market (both ~48 percent), with Yandex taking the lead on desktop (52 percent vs. Google at 42 percent) and Google dominating mobile (60 percent vs. Yandex at 38 percent).
However, the mobile search market in Russia is changing, and it’s a battleground that’s been taken to the courts.
Earlier this year, Google and the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) reached a voluntary settlement agreement after Yandex complained about their abuse of power. Russia has approximately 55 million Android users and until the Russian FAS decided against Google, those Android users have been limited to using Google by default.
As well as a fine, Google was also ordered to open up the Android platform and introduce a “choice” screen, and a new Chrome widget letting users choose their default search engine.
Wider implications of this are of course the precedent that this sets in European Law. In April 2016 the European Commission’s Antitrust Chief outlined in a statement of objections that Google has breached EU competition laws by requiring smartphone manufacturers building with the Android operating system that they have to pre-install (and set as default) Google Chrome and Google Search.
It will be interesting to see the uptake of Turbo pages, given that the mobile web is now even more accessible to Yandex given the FAS ruling.