It's taken a significant amount of work over the years, but content marketing is finally in a good place. Algorithm updates and influencers spreading the right messages have brought it to a point where marketers and business owners are churning out great content.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 83% of B2B and 77% of B2C companies now have a solid content strategy in place. These companies finally realize that if they create a sustainable content strategy, they're going to see significant ROI over the long term.

The key is to get it right. There are a lot of moving parts, and it's easy to fall back on old habits or let content efforts slide.

Consider these 5 detrimental content marketing mistakes so you know how to avoid them.

1. Producing content that isn't unique or different

Anyone can produce content that is par for the course. But you need to avoid ordinary content that your audience has already seen over and over at all costs.

Ordinary content is simply not effective.

You need to create content that is unusual, imaginative, authoritative, and interesting. You can still talk about the same topic as everyone else, but paint it in a way that captures the attention of your audience. When you do this, you create a sense of exclusivity where your audience believes that they just can't get the same perspective from anyone else. To do this consistently, you need to stretch the limits of your creativity.

As Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, says, "Successful companies in social media function more like entertainment companies, publishers, or party planners than as traditional advertisers."

2. Doing content marketing just to build links

If you believe that the process of content creation and distribution of your content is a primary means of building high-quality links, then you are making a fatal mistake. This is the kind of thinking that led to relentless updates from search giants like Google that ultimately led to major brands being stripped from the search results with major penalties.

You need to see content marketing as a means to actively engage your audience and build lasting relationships through trust and authority. It's there to help you connect to your audience and trigger conversations about and around your brand.

Links are important to your visibility, sure, but that's old-school optimization. Services like Google look down on anything that looks like a tactic trying to game the system. Instead, Google likes content that educates, brings value, nurtures brand loyalty, and enhances the reputation of business. When you create that kind of content, you will naturally build a collection of relevant authority links.

"Content marketing can build links," saysErin Everhart, SEO Manager at Home Depot. "Link building efforts can result in some great content. They're not the same thing, but the two can work together to produce some seriously amazing results."

Any links you gain through content marketing should be seen as gravy, a bonus for your efforts. You put your brand at great risk if you approach content marketing with a narrow focus on link building.

3. Churning out thin content

We know the search algorithms are regularly being enhanced and updated to catch poor-quality content, often resulting in devalued links and loss of search visibility. That alone is reason enough to avoid skimping on quality where content is concerned.

But what about those people in your audience who managed to find the content?

You can forget about achieving great returns on whatever time and money you put into churning out generic, low value content. It essentially tells your audience that you care so little for them that you're not interested in spending the time to give them even the most basic valuable takeaway.

That's an experience with your brand they won't soon forget.

Remember: "Content is the reason search began in the first place" -Lee Odden, Top Rank Blog

4. Producing content with only yourself in mind

Business owners and marketers like to think they know what's best for their audience, and that sometimes results in producing content that only sounds good to them. What you wind up with is a lot of topics that cover and serve only your own interests. Results will be hit or miss--mostly miss--because you're not really hitting on the pain points that are pervasive throughout your audience.

You have to produce, publish, and distribute content that speaks to your audience about their issues.

The best way to find out what your audience is interested in is to read through consumer reviews, dig into social media discussions, look through Q&A sites, and listen within your industry. This will bring to life the questions they're asking, the problems they're having, and the barriers they're coming up against when trying to find answers.

When you have a stronger grasp of your audience, and you can clearly define what they're looking for, it will be far easier to create a content marketing plan that aims to serve them--not you.

5. Giving up when the well runs dry

Maybe you did everything right and hit the ground running with your content marketing. You have a strategy in place, you follow it to a T, you get results, you're churning out a ton of great content... and then you suddenly start running out of ideas, burning out, or running out of steam while quality begins to suffer.

The worst thing you can do at this point, especially if content marketing is working for you, is to let your strategy lose momentum. That can cost you big.

Remember, your audience has come to rely on your content. It's generating traffic, brand visibility, leads, and revenue. You can't let that slip even for a moment no matter how dry the well looks.

If this happens, then it's time to try a new angle on content marketing, like storytelling, answering questions your customers don't know how to ask (the big challenges they have yet to isolate), adding personal touches and more personality, and going after the competition--take what they're doing, and do it better. The important thing is that you keep innovating and finding ways to keep your content fresh, engaging--and working.

Have any other common content marketing mistakes you want to share? Post them in the comments below:

Published on: Mar 29, 2016