Yandex announced today that it has launched a Turkish version of its search engine along with a range of other services created specifically for web users in Turkey – including webmail, news aggregation and automated translation services.
Until now, the Turkish market has been dominated by search giant Google, with a market share exceeding 93% in July according to ComScore.
Just like Yandex’s Russian version, Yandex’s search service in Turkey calls up news, pictures, videos, and web links. Further, the Turkish version is targeted to take into account the structure of the Turkish language, features an auto-correction function and can differentiate between synonyms.
“Almost everything we did for Turkey – ranking formulas, searches, the language model, morphology, synonyms, abbreviations, and an index of the Turkish internet segment and more – was all developed specifically for this particular country. We did extensive research into the preferences of Turkish web users in order to optimize the main Yandex page for yandex.com.tr and made about 200 changes to the search results page. It’s been a difficult and time-consuming project,” said Yandex PR manager Tatyana Komarova to East-West Digital News.
By recruiting a local team and opening a representative office in Istambul, the Yandex insists it went beyond just technology. “Technology alone is not enough to make a good search engine,” said Alisher Hasanov, Product Director at Yandex Turkey. “We also need an understanding of the local culture, language and user preferences. Our local Turkish team of analysts, managers and translators defines our core direction in this country.”
Yandex has used its original Russian version – launched in 1997 – to position itself in the former Soviet republics. In particular, its market shares average 25%, 29%, and 39%, respectively, on the Kazakh, Ukrainian, and Belorussian markets. In May, 2010, Yandex launched an international version in English, Yandex.com, earning praise for the accuracy of its results, according to US business magazine Fast Company.
This is the first time, however, the company has offered a national version of its search engine in a particular country outside the Russian speaking geography. “We were considering countries with a well-developed Internet market, a growing web user audience and a lot of local language content. Turkey was a clear first choice,” Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh explained.
In internal corporate information partially leaked in late March by Roem.ru, a site covering Russian Internet issues, Poland and Romania were named – along with Turkey – as possible future targets for Yandex international expansion.
“Yandex aims to go only to countries with a real potential demand for our search products,” Komarova replied to EWDN. “Our future plans depend on our experience in Turkey. That’s why it’s too early to speculate about what’s next.”
The Russian search giant began successfully trading on NASDAQ in May.