As you might probably know, Google is not an omnipotent search engine company. It is even forbidden in certain countries lie China for example. In other places the network is much less preferred compared to local ones.
Russia is a very specific case when it comes to digital platforms available. Facebook and LinkedIn and Google are not banned, but local people don’t use them as much as they prefer their own local equivalents. The biggest social network is called Odnoclassniki (classmates), but people who are likely to have contacts abroad do use Facebook, too. LinkedIn has been banned in Russia until last month and is now currently live. However, the biggest jobs and professional networking website is hh.ru.
Same with search engines, Russia prefers its own Yandex, rather than Google. One of the reasons why is that Yandex has a much higher compatibility with the local Cyrillic alphabet. Russians are very passionate when it comes to protecting their language and even websites like hh.ru do not allow advertisers to put any content in other language than Russian.
When it comes to Yandex, you can still bid on English search terms, however it is likely that they have much less search volume. Yandex account managers would always advice you to source out some translation work and come up with a list of local language keywords. English keywords have much less competition and come up with a cheaper cost per click.
If your product does not require any advanced English knowledge, you can also try combinations of Cyrillic and Latin keywords. Another popular way of searching in Russia is to type English search terms with Cyrillic alphabet. For example, “education” would be spelt “едюкейшан” which is a phonetic transcription of the English search term in Russian.
You could also try to spell Russian keywords with Latin. It is likely that people are too lazy to change the alphabet on their computer or simply do not have Cyrillic installed. In many cases Russians would change some of their specific letters which do not have equivalent in latin with a number. This might sound complicated to a Western person, but the logic is really simple. The number 4 would stand for the sound “tsh”, because the Russian word for “four” is “tshetiri”. Also the number 4 looks like the Russian letter for “tch” – “ч” For example the word “4elovek” would be read “tchelovek”, which means a person.
All these word alternations can help you find keywords with high volume and lower cost per click. The algorithm of Yandex is not as sophisticated as Google Adwords at the moment. Spelling mistakes and plurals are still to be counted as separate keywords, so you must provide all variations in order to get the maximum volume of searches.
You can always access the search volume or expected cost of a keyword with the keyword tool of Yandex. It is quite similar to what Google has and you can get some good suggestions for similar searches.
Ad copy. Similar to google Yandex rewards advertisers who bid on keywords which are present in their ad copy and landing pages. If you are bidding on Russian search terms, then landing pages and ad copy on local language would be necessary.
Yandex Display network. You can also do display advertising with banners on websites talking about a particular theme similar to your search term. You can target by demographic, interests or do remarketing. This function is very similar to what Google Adwords offers.