Most European search markets are dominated by Google and there seem to be no real local competitors. In Russia however, a fierce battle for the search query’s of the consumers is going on. Yakov Sadchikov from Quintura even mailed me that “the Russian search engines are coming.” Well, I don’t think they will cross any borders, since their main advantage is the local knowledge and adaption to the Cyrillic alphabet. But they sure give Google a hard time on Russian soil.
First there is Russia’s largest search engine Yandex, the first engine that revealed a billion pages outside the .ru domain. According to ComScore, Yandex is the no. nine search engine globally. They’ve launched their first vertical search engine, Yandex.Auto. A search engine for, you guessed it right, car classified ads. The crawler indexes over half a million listings of used cars from 30 Russian car sites. Search query’s can be specified by gearbox type, brand, color and whatnot. Yakov showed me an example of the results for Lamborghini.
Secondly, the search engine that comes right after Yandex is Rambler. They’re not in the world’s top ten yet, but are doing a good job with 300 million monthly searches and more than 37 million unique users in last February. Revenues of 2007 increased with 125% from 2006 to 69 million dollars.
So this upcoming engine has released a new version which is open to the public on beta.rambler.ru. The differences with the current version are mainly visual, also the focus of Rambler has shifted to vertical search. So there’s a thumbnail next to a search result and four categories – Internet, Top 100, News and Wikipedia – are marked with different colors.
It seems like the Russian search engines are doing the opposite of what Google does, since they’re adding fancy add-ons, while Google still keeps it clean and simple. Maybe they’re right, maybe it’s time for specified and vertical search. Most of us are somewhat used to the complexity of the Web now, so we might as well be able to handle a search engine a bit more complicated than just a white page.