A former employee allegedly leaked a Yandex source code repository, part of which contained more than 1,900 factors the search engines uses for ranking search results.
Why we care. This leak has revealed 1,922 ranking factors Yandex used in its search algorithm, at least as of July 2022. Perhaps Martin MacDonald put it best on Twitter today: “The Yandex hack is probably the most interesting thing to have happened in SEO in years.”
Yandex is not Google. If you plan to read the full list of Yandex ranking factors, remember that Yandex is not Google. If you see a ranking factor listed by Yandex, that doesn’t mean Google gives that signal that same amount of weight. In fact, Google may not use all of the 1,922 factors listed.
That said, a lof of these ranking factors may be quite similar. So reviewing this document may provide some useful insights to better help you understand how search engines, such as Google, work from a technological standpoint.
The bigger picture. The code appeared as a Torrent on a popular hacking forum, as reported by Bleeping Computer:
…the leaker posted a magnet link that they claim are ‘Yandex git sources’ consisting of 44.7 GB of files stolen from the company in July 2022. These code repositories allegedly contain all of the company’s source code besides anti-spam rules.
Yandex calls it a leak. Because the code appeared on a popular hacking forum, it was first thought that Yandex was hacked. Yandex has denied this, and provided the following statement:
“Yandex was not hacked. Our security service found code fragments from an internal repository in the public domain, but the content differs from the current version of the repository used in Yandex services.
A repository is a tool for storing and working with code. Code is used in this way internally by most companies.
Repositories are needed to work with code and are not intended for the storage of personal user data. We are conducting an internal investigation into the reasons for the release of source code fragments to the public, but we do not see any threat to user data or platform performance.”
Dig deeper. You can find more coverage of the leak on Techmeme.
Yandex ranking factors list. MacDonald shared the full list of 1,922 factors here on Web Marketing School. I highly recommend downloading it, as I fully expect Yandex will try to scrub this information from the internet. There is also a translated version on Dropbox.
Alex Buraks also has an ongoing Twitter thread analyzing the various ranking factors. Many are what you’d expect to see – PageRank, text relevancy, content age and freshness, lots of end-user behavior factors, host reliability and many link-related factors (e.g., age, relevancy, etc.)
Some of the ranking factors SEOs are finding surprising: number of unique visitors, percent of organic traffic and average domain ranking across queries.
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