The Search Design Mindset

By Greg Swearingen

Everyone who is creating website content needs to have a Search Design Mindset. A Search Design Mindset brings content creation and design together with designing for search engine results.

Someone with a Search Design Mindset thinks, “How do I create content in such a way that I can meet my goals & objectives and at the same time design for good search engine results?”

It is natural for people to focus on the content and look of a web page as they write text and add graphics on their way to meeting their goals & objects. However, many working in this area of web page content creation are often unaware of good search design principles. As a result they are creating nice web pages, but they are not designing for a search engine. Search engines are not ranking their web pages high, and thus not as many people are seeing the created web pages.

Additionally, people can spend time and effort on content and design and actually lower their web pages in search engine results! This is not done purposefully, yet this is exactly what can happen when the people working on web page content are not thinking about Search Design. This is not limited to those who are adding the text and graphics to a web page. This also applies to the programmers who are creating the framework for a website. I have seen programming that hurts web page ranking no matter what content is put on the page.

Search Design involves two principles:

  1. Know your target audience (a.k.a. personas). This includes thinking about your target audience, those for whom you are creating the web page content, and what words they are likely to use in a search when they are looking for your content or looking for something related to your content.
  2. Know your search engines. Know what search engine spiders (a.k.a. bots) are looking for when they crawl a web page (process the content on your website) and what they are capable of doing.

When you are working on website content and design spend the extra effort to design for good search engine ranking. Combining these together is known as Search Design. This does take a bit of effort at the start. However, as you repeatedly combine these together as part of web page content, design, and development you shape your mindset and it becomes natural and automatic. When you naturally and automatically incorporate search design into your web pages you have a Search Design Mindset.

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