Eli Schwartz will be speaking on Mobile SEO at Engage 2018, which will take place March 8th, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

1) Please give us your background and let us know what you do for a living.
I am the Director of Organic Product at SurveyMonkey. In my role, I am responsible for the growth of organic traffic to all of our properties and products. As the architect of our SEO strategies, I have a deep partnership with the product, design and engineering teams to ensure everything works together to achieve the best organic results. In addition to SEO, I also lead the efforts in ensuring that traffic to our surveys ultimately leads to wider adoption and engagement by people that are not yet our users.
I have been at SurveyMonkey for five years, and during that time I have worn many hats. My first role was in leading SEO efforts, and I was the first full-time person in that role at that time. I helped engineers re-architect the logged out portions of our website in a manner that aligned with SEO best practices, directed the content teams in the type of content offering we needed, and partnered with localization teams to multiply our SEO efforts into 16 languages.

My SEO work at SurveyMonkey gave me broad exposure and experience into SEM, CRO, ASO and international marketing. To deepen my international marketing skills and enhance my broader marketing experience, I moved to Singapore for nearly two years to lead the company’s APAC marketing efforts. It was a constant learning experience of applying cultural lessons to marketing campaigns which taught me how much listening to customer voices and getting the user perspective matters in marketing, and especially digital marketing.

I have recently returned to my marketing roots of sorts by once again leading SurveyMonkey’s SEO efforts but this time in a much larger organization. We’ve just recently launched our People Powered Data platform that enables businesses to act on the voices and opinions of the people that matter most with targeted products that deliver customer, employee, and market-powered data. With this launch, I now also oversee product and design efforts to maximize visibility of our People Powered Data platform through the survey thank you pages that millions of survey takers see daily.

2) Can you explain to the layman Google’s “mobile first index” and what a company needs to do to avoid getting hurt by this?
I think the term “mobile-first index” is a bit deceptive as it implies that mobile will be the primary index. Nothing could be further from the truth. Outside of a few countries in Asia where mobile usage significantly outranks desktop, many parts of the world still have users who rely on desktops. Mobile web activity surpassed the desktop in 2016, but that is only because the capabilities of mobile devices allowed their usage to extend into even more of our awake time. The fact that people are now conducting Google searches, watching videos, texting, and performing any of the other myriad things on the phone for more hours per day does not diminish the 8+ hours most people spend on a non-mobile device.

I will spend some time talking about this at the Engage conference next month, but I really don’t think most websites need to be concerned about “getting hurt” from what I would prefer to call Google’s “Mobile Specific Index.” Presumably, all websites are already available on mobile just like they are on a desktop. If a website is not mobile friendly, then it is likely not performing as well as it should for users, and the mobile traffic that comes from search is of little to no value. A mobile-specific index that prioritizes mobile-friendly websites will just make it less likely that this non-performing traffic will find the website. If a company wants to benefit from the mobile index, they should prioritize building a good mobile experience for mobile users, but it should definitely not be at the expense of desktop users.

3) What other mobile barriers to optimal SEO success have you come across?
SEO success is not defined as just as high rankings, but also a great user experience. With that in mind, the greatest barrier to SEO success on mobile is a lack of understanding of the mobile users and optimizing for their needs. Here at SurveyMonkey, data and user experience are a fundamental part of our DNA, and as a result, our survey-taking experience now feels more like a conversation. Auto-scrolling saves time, so respondents are more likely to complete surveys, resulting in better data. The value of putting the respondent first is clear: The new experience provides up to 20% higher completion rates.

User experience aside, achieving high rankings for mobile SEO is infinitely harder than desktop. Appearing in the first few results on mobile search is even more important, and the competitive sets are different. A company might find that even for terms that do not typically surface local maps results on desktop, might still have local listings on mobile. Additionally, on mobile, there are even more non-maps results that are specific to a single location. Depending on the nature of the business, it might pay to make pages with local features just to stay even.

If a company has decided that their optimal mobile use case is through mobile app, this requires optimizing their app in the app ecosystems on iTunes and Google Play.

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