white_queen_chess_pieceChess is 1,500 years old, but for the first 900 years the queen could only move one space. Then, somewhere near the end of the 15th century, someone realized the game was taking way too long and gave the queen a lot more power. For awhile, this new style was called Mad Queen Chess, now it’s the only way to play, so we just call it chess.

Along with the fast-moving queen came the romantic era of chess. This period was marked by attention more to the style and feel of the game than effectiveness of strategies used. Wikipedia described chess players from the romantic period:

It was characterized by swashbuckling attacks, clever combinations, brash piece sacrifices and dynamic games.

Now we have moved in to the scientific era of chess in which millions of chess games have been recorded and analyzed. The best and worst openings are well-known.

Grandmasters still use creative strategies and tricky gambits, but the goal is usually just to get a slight advantage. There is not a place, anymore, for someone to come along and upset the whole thing by making a first move nobody has ever thought of.

Chess is a game of understanding existing strategy and tactics and being able to implement them in real time. Without making dumb mistakes.

Web content strategy arguably started as soon as there was a web. But if you think about some of the early day web events that achieved popularity, strategy would not be the word you might choose. The web took time to grow up. Not 1,500 years, but still.

Coherent web content strategy, as a discipline or as a coordinated approach with well-defined principles probably started around 2007. A lot of what is celebrated as good web content strategy is more like the romantic area of chess.

Winning was not a big deal. This sentiment has led to some to believe web content strategy is optional, a bit of fancy style that adds nothing to the real goals of the business. But true web content strategy is more like modern chess. There are clear methods that will produce a significant improvement for any player.

Learning how to spot a fork or skewer in chess gives you a distinct advantage over the many casual players who don’t understand these simple tactics. Knowing how to develop your pieces during the opening phase of the game will push you past many normal chess players.

If you take time to understand your target audience preferences and behaviors, if you develop content that actually matches their needs, you will move quickly ahead of many of your competitors. If you keep track of your key metrics and act on the information, you will find yourself with fewer real competitors and a lot more opportunity.

There are higher levels of web content strategy and more refined tactics. But many businesses have not learned the basics, yet, and the potential for improvement from learning these is very large.

By: Daniel H. Jeffers