Depending on the region, about 15 to 30% of all searches on Yandex require information about products, services, personalities or events specific to the user's current location. Accordingly, Yandex responds to such queries with search results that vary from region to region. Someone in Moscow looking for a lawyer will see links to websites of legal service providers in Moscow, while a person making the same search query in Kiev will find links to websites of the local law firms.
Location-based search is available in those cities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus where the number of local websites allows offering this feature. Location-based results are also available for web users in Kazakhstan and Turkey.
Location-dependent and location-independent queries
Not all search queries require location-based answers. It does not matter much where the searcher is when they are looking for a book, a recipe, or a law of physics. On the other hand, those who ask for a gym or a taxi, are very likely to be looking for a gym closest to where they live, or a taxi company in their city.
People in different locations looking for the same thing may expect to find something completely different. Very often these searches are names of local celebrities or companies. A web user in Moscow searching for 'the orbit' is, in fact, looking for a cinema, while someone in Rostov-on-Don making the same query expects to see a car dealer's website, and if this search comes from Israel, its author is very likely to be looking for a popular local web portal.
A search engine’s capability to sense the difference between those user queries that require location-based results and those that don’t is crucial for its ability to understand the searcher's intents and deliver the best search results to respond to them.
The mechanism that allows a search engine to decide whether the searcher’s current location is relevant for a query is based on search statistics. A location-dependent query may not have any terms that would point to its geography, but it must have words that often co-occur with such terms. A search query ‘transportation’, for instance, will be classed as location-dependent, because those who use this word in their searches also often add location.
Location of a search is identified, primarily, by the searcher's IP address. This information, however, is not universally reliable — the IP address can be assigned by an internet service provider registered in a different region. Yandex continually updates its classifier for region identification using the information it receives from clients, partners and end users. It always informs users of what their current location it believes is. It is displayed in the top right-hand corner on the search results page and can be changed manually in settings.
Location-based search results
Yandex search responds to location-dependent searches with relevant to the region of the search query. The most relevant results for a location-dependent search query, as a rule, come from local web resources. This, however, does not mean that a good answer cannot come from a location-neutral website or from a website in another region. When delivering search results for a location-dependent query, local resources are prioritised over others only if all other factors are equal. Yandex users can limit their search exclusively to local resources in the search engine’s settings. If a geographic name is mentioned in a search query, Yandex shows results relevant to this place regardless of the user's current location. So, someone looking for a hotel in Saint Petersburg will see links to hotel websites in this city even if they are searching from Moscow.
When a user receives a link to Yandex’s search results from someone in another region, they see exactly the page that has been sent, rather than the search results matching their location. This is possible because the information about the user’s current location is built into the page’s web address.
Yandex also uses the searcher's current location to provide them with the relevant information in and in search results showing local weather, events, jobs, business addresses etc. So, the Lenin Street the users will see on Yandex will refers exactly to the Lenin Street in their own city, and not in any other.
The search engine identifies the region of a website using a number of attributes including contact information on its pages, its IP address, the region it mentions a lot, etc.
Regional websites of a company are normally identified as local in their respective regions. A company website can be classed as national regardless of where the company's head office is located if this company has national rather than regional presence, such as a postal service, for instance. The same logic applies to websites, whose internet availability is much more important than their physical location – electronic libraries or electronic mail services are a good example.