Fri · Aug 12

The Basics of SEO

Eli Schwartz is the Director of Marketing, APAC, for SurveyMonkey.

For weekly recaps of The Macro, sign up here.

As the search engines of the world get closer to reading the minds of users, the ability to manipulate organic search results with creative SEO will become a thing of the past. In this new paradigm, the only way to achieve high search engine rankings and subsequent organic search traffic is to create content – content in the broadest definition: images, tools, and products – that match precisely what a user seeks when they conduct a search engine query. That said, valuable content alone is not enough to guarantee strong rankings if the best practices that help with search engine discovery are not followed.

These are the four must-haves to realize the potential of free search engine traffic on your website.

Title Tags
According to guidelines from search engines, the title tag is one of the most important signals to search crawlers as to the topic of a page. While you can still get ranked by search engines without a title tag on a page, the search algorithms may miss the focus of the page’s content without this helpful hint. The title tag should be succinct (avoid stop words and word duplication), accurate, (avoid adding irrelevant keywords) and unique (each page should have its own title). Your most important keywords for the page’s topic should be used in the title tag. A future post will deal with how to find and choose keywords.


Meta Description
The meta description is the snippet displayed on the search results. While the meta description does not factor into algorithmic rankings, it functions as a sort of ad copy for why a user should click to your page. The text should be descriptive of the content on the page, short (under 155 characters), and contain keywords related to the topic of the page. When keywords in the meta description match a user’s search query, these words will be bolded in the snippet. Search engines will not always use the exact snippet you have written, but this should not deter you from writing the best ad copy possible for each page.


Content in HTML
Search engines can now understand content contained within JavaScript, decipher images, and even transcribe videos. However, search rankings are still primarily a text query-based practice. In order to maximize your opportunities for ranking in search engines, ensure that your most important content is text, visible within plain HTML tags. The text should not be stuffed with keywords and, most importantly, it should be relevant to a user’s potential search queries.


In a world where there are more Google searches conducted on mobile devices than on desktops, your site needs to be mobile-friendly to accommodate these users. Mobile friendliness is defined by Google as “readable and immediately usable without needing to pinch and zoom.” To ensure a positive experience for their users, Google and eventually other engines will demote or hide webpages that are not deemed mobile-friendly. Even if you don’t believe that your audience is a mobile one, they still might conduct their first searches for your products on a mobile device before digging deeper with a desktop search.


For most websites all that’s needed for these four areas is a simple SEO plugin and/or a flexible CMS. One final recommendation is to make sure you are registered with the webmaster portals of the major search engines you are targeting. Google, Bing, Baidu (China), Naver (Korea) and Yandex (Russia) all have them and they’re how search engines will communicate with you on issues related to your search visibility.

If you follow these four steps you should be well on your way to getting free traffic from search engines. Future articles will cover these and other topics in more detail, but please get in touch with questions/suggestions.

Additional Resources
Google’s SEO starter guide
Moz’s beginners guide to SEO
SearchEngineLand’s SEO guide
The latest news on SEO

About Eli
Eli Schwartz is the Director of Marketing, APAC, for SurveyMonkey, the world’s largest online survey platform. He oversees SurveyMonkey’s marketing efforts in the Asia Pacific region. In addition, he leads the company’s global SEO efforts and strategies across 17 languages. SurveyMonkey serves over 25 million customers worldwide, including 99% of the Fortune 500, and collects over 3 million online survey responses daily.

Previously, he led all user acquisition efforts across paid, organic and social at High Gear Media, an online content startup which was acquired by Internet Brands. Eli is a contributing author on the world’s leading search engine blogs and has presented keynotes on marketing topics in the the US and Asia. To read more of his content check out his blog at

Sign up for weekly recaps of The Macro.