I attended the Voices That Matter Web Design conference in Nashville a few weeks ago and while I had a lot of fun, I also learned a lot too. The conference is sponsored by New Riders, an imprint of Peachpit publishing, which features some great authors writing about all angles of the web: usability, social web, design, CSS, search engine optimization and more.
Right now I'm interested in designing for findability and search engine optimization, and I found a lot of inspiration and ideas from Shari Thurow, author of the book Search Engine Visibility. She pointed out how important it is to design not for Google (or any other search engine), but for the users of Google. People search for things in different ways and it is key to design and write content for your site to cover the three different search query types: navigational, informational and transactional.
Often clients focus on getting the number one ranking in Google, or close to it, and while I think that's important, it's not all there is. It's important for your content to appeal to those three query types because not everyone is going to get to your site the same way, and oftentimes not even arrive at your home page first.
Other good practices for findability include designing to create repeat traffic to your site (through RSS feeds, podcasts, newsletters and such) and creating custom error pages, to help users get back on track and stay in your site.
Stay tuned for more blog posts on other topics covered at the Voices That Matter web conference in Nashville.