SEO Conclusions from the leakage of Yandex search engine code

SEO Conclusions from the leakage of Yandex search engine code

I was delighted to learn about the leak of Yandex’s proprietary source code. And after analyzing the data, the findings were quite interesting! So, without further ado, let’s dive into my main conclusions.

(Upd.) The leak was about 40 GB, but I only studied the file describing all 1992 ranking factors. Who cares about the name of the file – factors_gen.txt

#1 Link age matters

One of the discoveries was that linkage is a ranking factor. This means that old links are considered more reliable and authoritative by the Yandex algorithm. Therefore, it is important to build a link profile that will include both old and new links.

#2 Paid traffic and organic traffic affect rankings

Another key point was that traffic and the percentage of organic traffic are ranking factors. This means that if you are paying for PPC, it could affect search engine rankings. Therefore, tracking the amount of paid traffic to your site and maximizing organic traffic is very important.

SEO Conclusions from the leakage of Yandex search engine code

#3 Numbers in URLs can be harmful

I was surprised to learn that having numbers in URLs can have a negative effect on rankings. This should be kept in mind when creating URLs for your pages.

#4 Too many slashes in a URL can hurt rankings

More slashes in URLs can also positively impact rankings. Therefore, your URLs must be clean and concise.

#5 Hard optimization equals PR=0

Yandex will understand if you are trying to “deceive” the system with over-optimization. The source code leak shows that heavy optimization can lead to a PR (page rank) of 0. Therefore, it is important to take a more holistic approach to SEO and focus on creating quality content and building a strong link profile.

SEO Conclusions from the leakage of Yandex search engine code

#6 Hosting errors can hurt

The reliability of your hosting is also a ranking factor. The fewer 40x/50x errors you have, the better for your organic traffic. Therefore, it is very important to choose a reliable hosting provider and monitor your site’s performance.

#7 Separate ranking factor for Wikipedia

Interestingly, there is a separate ranking factor for raising Wikipedia. This shows the importance of having links on authoritative sites such as Wikipedia.

#8 Behavioral factors matter a lot

Many ranking factors are related to user behavior, such as high CTR, last click, time on site, and bounce rate. And according to my analysis, these factors have a much greater impact on rankings in Yandex than on Google. Therefore, monitoring user behavior on your site and making improvements as needed is important.

#9 Document age and last update

The age of your document and when it was last updated are also ranking factors. Keeping your content fresh and relevant is critical to maintaining good rankings.

#10 Average domain position across all queries matters

The average position of a domain across all queries is a ranking factor. Maintaining good rankings for your target keywords is essential to your overall success.

#11 Scan Depth

If you want your important pages to rank well, ensure they are only a click or a few clicks away from the main page. The closer, the better.

#12 Orphan Pages

Remember orphan pages – they are not linked to any other pages on your site. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to identify them and incorporate them into your site structure.

#13 Backlinks

Backlinks from the home page of a site are more valuable than links from internal pages. It’s simple logic – the home page is usually the site’s most authoritative and trusted page.

SEO Conclusions from the leakage of Yandex search engine code

#14 Number of search queries

The more search queries your site or URL receives, the higher it will rank. It’s simple – more traffic = a higher rating.

#15 Traffic from Wikipedia

Traffic coming from Wikipedia can also affect rankings. So make sure you have a strong presence on this popular platform.

#16 Last search session URL

If a user finds what they are looking for on your site, this can positively affect rankings. For example, if the user searched for “buy plastic windows in Moscow” and after your site did not return to the search = there is an increase in positions.


Encourage users to bookmark your site – the more bookmarks your URL gets, the higher the ranking factor will be.

#18 Short videos

There are specific ranking factors for short video platforms like TikTok, Shorts, and Reels. Make sure you have an active participation on these platforms.

#19 Maps JS-API

Integrating a map API such as Google Maps into your page is a ranking factor. A useful and functional map can boost search engine rankings in niches such as travel.

#20 Keywords in URL

Including keywords in the URL is another ranking factor. Including up to three words from the search query is considered optimal.

SEO Conclusions from the leakage of Yandex search engine code

#21 Return of users

The good news for product developers is that user retention is a ranking factor. The more users that come back to your site, the better it will be for your SEO. Yandex has several ranking factors to measure the indicator, so if they return to your site = the site will rise in PS.

#22 Capital letters in Title

When was the last time you saw the full header of a site at the top of Google? Not often. The percentage of caps in a tag is a ranking factor. So for better rankings, keep titles in lowercase.

#23 Direct traffic

The combination of direct and organic traffic is good for rankings. If all your traffic comes from organic search, it’s suspicious and could negatively impact your rankings. Remember that the percentage of direct traffic is also a ranking factor.

#24 Broken embedded videos

Content quality is always a key ranking factor; this time, it’s all about embedded videos on your site. Embedding a video is good SEO practice, but it can only hurt your rankings if it works. So make sure all your embedded videos are working and up to date.

#25 Verified social media accounts

Brand search is essential for SEO, and having only your domains and verified social networks in the top 10 is ideal. Yandex has a ranking factor based on verified social media accounts, so ensure you have them set up to get the best positions.

#26 Backlink Anchors

Keywords in backlink anchors are a ranking factor. If the anchor words match the keywords, that’s even better. And if they are in the same link, it is even more beneficial, especially if the word order is the same.

#27 The ratio of good to bad backlinks

The ratio of “good” to “bad” backlinks is a ranking factor, although there are still no clear criteria for what constitutes a “good” backlink. In my experience, backlinks from high-quality sites relevant to your topic would be considered “good.”

#28 Quality of texts on the website

The quality of the texts on the site is also a ranking factor. Pages with low-quality content will affect the entire domain, so ensure all your content is high quality.

#29 Number of ads per page

Less is better when it comes to ads on your page since the number of ads on a page is a ranking factor. Therefore, try to keep the amount of advertising to a minimum if it is not from Yandex. This is a positive factor if you have Yandex advertising on your site.

Number of ads per page

#30 The random factor

Believe it or not, there is a separate ranking factor for randomness, although everyone has known about the “one-armed bandit” for so long. Sometimes pages are at the top to test for behavioral factors, so if you’re wondering why a certain page is ranking, it might just be a fluke.

#31 JS from Google Analytics

No wonder JS from Google Analytics is a ranking factor in Yandex. After all, “shit sites” use GA less often than good ones.

#32 Backlinks from Top 100 Sites

Finally, backlinks from the top 100 PageRank sites also affect rankings. This is not exactly news, but it is always good to keep it in mind.


Thank you, Yandex, for providing information about your main ranking factors. We need no more reasons to be obsessed with SEO, but we accept them. We will ensure our URLs are perfect and avoid those pesky slashes like the plague. Who needs sleep when there is a chance to rank higher on Yandex?

But seriously, thanks for a laugh. We value a separate ranking factor for raising Wikipedia’s rankings and a random factor for behavioral testing. And let’s remember that the quality of our texts affects the entire domain. We will keep a close eye on this.

So, thanks to Yandex for leaking this treasure trove of information. We can continue the endless pursuit of the best positions in the rankings.

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If you are interested in SEO and researching this topic, I recommend my article on learning SLI words.


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