01/09/2013 03:35 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

Content Strategy: What's the Point?

The more I read, the more I'm convinced that the content strategist is key to making the Internet kick butt. Unfortunately, her name contradicts her number one promise: to be clear.

So... what is content strategy? And what does the content strategist do?

Let's start with the basics. At it's core, content strategy grapples with the one question about web content that we all love to ignore: What's the point?

In her excellent article, The Discipline of Content Strategy, content guru Kristina Halvorson reminds us that while we love to talk about the disciplines that enable users to find and consume our content (e.g. user experience, information architecture, content management systems, coding, metadata, visual design, user research) we haven't been talking about the content itself.

There are a lot of content strategy definitions out there. I like Halvorson's the best: "Content strategy plans for the creation, publication and governance of useful, usable content."

Seem simple? It's not.

Content strategy embodies a wide range of fields -- everything from editorial strategy, to web writing, to SEO, to channel distribution strategy to metadata strategy and more. And to be effective content strategists, we must gain a basic understanding of them all. We must hold ourselves to the highest standards. We must treat our users well. It's hard, but what's the alternative?

Think of the millions of people around the world who are in the pursuit of great content at this very moment. They're opening new tabs, unlocking iPhones, connecting to networks. They have questions. And they have a right to find the answers they need.