Yandex opened the alpha version of a search engine for foreign web sites at Yandex.com, spokesman Ochir Mandzhikov said. The search engine began indexing international sites two years ago and has so far catalogued more than 4 billion pages in foreign languages, with 80 percent of those pages in English.
On the Russian site, Yandex.ru, a filter was installed allowing users to search only on foreign sites, and its search for dot-com sites will become a "testing platform for the worldwide Internet."
Yandex has publicly stated that it has a full-fledged search on foreign sites, said Vladislav Kochetkov, chairman of Finam. It turns out that the search engine is ready to compete globally, primarily with Google. This is a significant event for the Russian Internet, Kochetkov said.
Four billion foreign pages for worldwide competition isn't much. According to Yandex, world search engines have indexed about 100 billion pages. Yandex has indexed 5.25 billion pages in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
In 2008, Google said it had catalogued a trillion sites. Among them are many duplicates, or sites that redirect users to an advertisement or with deleted information, said Victor Lavrenko, founder of the Nigma.ru search engine. There are only tens of billions of useful sites, he said. A Google representative declined to comment.
But these 4 billion pages will help Yandex keep some Russian users from defecting to foreign search engines and competitors, said Igor Ashmanov, a partner at Ashmanov & Partners.
But the search engine gives away 1.5 million to 2 million users every day through the links it places at the bottom of each page of results ("search for the same thing in other search engines"), Ashmanov estimates.
Yandex should index 20 billion pages and advertise abroad in order to compete with worldwide search engines, Lavrenko said.
Yandex has the technology to take its service to a world-class level, it only needs equipment and programmers, Lavrenko said. This will cost several million dollars — not much for the search engine.
The company, however, does not intend to advertise its search in the West, as the service is for Russian users, Mandzhikov said.