Monday, 3 October 2011

How Digital Content Strategy Has Evolved Over The Past Three Years

One week today I start a new job. And this end of an era, start of a new chapter, has me in a reflective mood. The past three years have seen a lot of change in the world of online content. Three years ago there were essentially two types of customers for digital content: the media and everyone else. The business was divided in two and there were clear differentiators between what was required by each.

Non-media clients were interested in the search engine optimisation benefits of content. They recognised that organic search benefited from fresh, keyword optimised content, and they wanted a piece of the action. Three years ago many of the non-media clients I was dealing with said things like: "we don't care what you write, just use the following keywords."

Digital content three years ago:
  • I'd never heard the expression: "content strategy".
  • Brands wanted short keyword loaded content for the search engine optimisation benefits.
  • I didn't use Twitter, and certainly I can't imagine many brands used social media.
Digital content now:
  • Content strategy is not just a regularly used expression, it's a job title!?
  • Non-media clients see additional benefits from content, such as: thought leadership and brand loyalty. 
  • Companies look to develop detailed and useful content and social media strategies. 

Why the change in digital content strategy?

Search engine optimisation is still important and will continue to be, for as long as search engines bring the majority of visitors to a website.  However, instead of meeting clients obsessed with SEO, I am now much more likely now to hear a client say: "we want content that is useful" or "we want to be seen as experts in our field".  And no this isn't just a reaction to the Google Panda update.  Brands started to realise the value of quality content in building loyalty, trust and engagement before Google cemented it in February 2011.

As a journalist, this evolution is pleasing and I like to think that I may have played a tiny part in helping to educate people about digital content strategy.  I'm excited about what the next three years hold, I wonder whether I should make some predictions?  A subject for another blog post me thinks!

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