Content is king and you’ve heard it all before. 88% of the B2B world uses content marketing. I work in the digital marketing arena so I can understand that without great content your business is never going to take off. But I’ve also been in this business for years and its unbelievable how things have changed with content marketing over the years.

It’s mainly because of what Google has done, but it’s also just because of how people have changed. What we expected from the Internet ten years ago is different from what we expect from it now.

So just how has it changed over time?

The Focus Has Changed

It pains me to say it, but early content marketing had nothing to do with you. You as the customer meant nothing because the only reason companies were producing lots of content was to allow us to get onto the first page of Google. It was about building backlinks through rewriting the same piece of content over and over again.

That was content marketing. It was essentially the same thing as SEO. You have to remember Google was our only marketing channel. Social media didn’t exist then, and the early social media networks hadn’t yet gained any traction when it comes to gathering more customers.

When Content Needed Value

Google Panda was the first major change that altered content marketing forever. I was there when sites saw their stock plummet overnight. Formerly proud websites that were on the first page of Google lost 90% of their traffic in 24 hours, and it never recovered.

The reason it never recovered was because the content they were using didn’t actually have any value. It was trash pumped out by freelancers in Pakistan and the Philippines working for less than a half-cent per word. These were the days where you could employ a content writer for a dollar an article.

It wasn’t a good time, and Google Panda changed all that. For the first time, companies really had to think about what they were producing for SEO purposes.

More Google Changes

Further Google changes, such as in the form of Penguin and Hummingbird, tightened the noose around poor quality content. Now companies had to come up with content that would actually encourage customers to interact. Without this, you had no chance of ranking high on Google.

And the move away from meta description-heavy SEO meant that most companies were no longer targeting SEO at all. I don’t spend any time looking at SEO today because I know that great content will always be important. Beyond inserting a few relevant keywords, SEO is almost entirely about the user experience.

But why is this the case?

Because that’s what Google wants. They said it themselves. They don’t want companies targeting SEO, they want companies targeting customers. And that’s the way to improve your sales strategy.

The Rise of Social Media

The biggest change of all has come in the form of social media. The rise of social media means that the main marketing channel is not Google or your website, but social media. It’s where most of your target audience is on a consistent basis. The rise of social media has enabled companies to talk to their target audience directly.

But what Google wants is still in place. You still have to produce relevant content or people aren’t going to be interested in what you have to offer, and this social media trend is set to continue long into the future.

And changes from Facebook, such as the crippling of organic reach, means that digital marketers like me have to focus on what customers actually want. It’s the only way I’m going to be able to drive a lot of traffic to a website. If people like me can’t do this, you can forget about attracting new customers.

Conclusion – Content Marketing Has Changed Forever

Content marketing has gone through some huge changes in recent years. No longer can you get away with producing what nobody wants to read. You must go out of your way to find out what they want, and then give it to them. It’s just like selling any product or service.

It’s easy to groan because you have to do more work, but it’s actually a good thing. It means that the scammers and the con artists don’t stand a chance of competing with you. They’ve been obliterated from the market. It’s better for everyone.