Once upon a time, a successful content marketing strategy involved little more than finding keywords with a bucket load of traffic and then writing some copy — any copy — that included those keywords as many times as possible.

Times have changed.

The rules have gotten much more complex, and keywords are slowly becoming obsolete. These days, the quality and relevancy of the content is much more important, and Google is much more hip to the games that dirty internet marketers play to try to jump to the head of the line.

If you want to be successful with content marketing, you are going to have to keep up with the changing rules that the marketplace demands, as influenced by Google changes and shifting consumer tastes.

Here’s the 2016 guide to branded content to help you create a winning strategy:

Create Content People Care About

It’s a pretty simple rule, and it’s the only rule you’ll have to remember.

No matter what else changes with content marketing, this rule will always remain because your customers will always be the bottom line.

What do your customers want to read? What do they care about? What problems do they have?

If you can answer these questions and you can write content that fits the bill, you will be far ahead of your competitors.

There are many ways to find out what your customers care about, including performing keyword research, looking at what your competitors are doing, and flat out asking your customers what they need.

Content that people care about will include posts that answer questions or provide a solution. It will also include posts that inspire or entertain in some way — how else do you explain all those cat videos?

The best posts will do a little bit of all that. Even if you are writing a serious, informational post, think about ways that you can inject a little levity, such as by sharing funny anecdotes or using interesting illustrations. Add an inspirational story to prove one of your points and you’ll be golden!

Establish Your Credibility

Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can create online content.

Why should your target audience trust you? What makes you so special?

You need to establish your credibility so that readers trust the information you provide them. You can do that by including your credentials in your “about” section and in other areas of your website, and you can do that by creating authoritative and comprehensive content.

Always back up your content with citations to third-party sources of information, such as academic journals, leading industry websites, government studies, and more. Explore the topic at hand fully and accurately, and create an in-depth post that provides all the information that the reader would want about the subject.

Never plagiarize. Your customers will eventually find out and so will the source of your information. Nothing on the internet can be kept a secret.

If you plagiarize, you’ll lose the trust of your readers forever, and you’ll take a serious hit in your search rankings from Google.

Create Interactive Content

You aren’t a sage dispensing advice from behind a virtual podium.

Your goal should be to create a dialogue with your readers. Doing so increases user engagement, and that increases the likelihood that your readers will return again and again and will become ambassadors for your brand.

You can encourage this dialogue by creating interactive content.

Examples of interactive content include quizzes, informational maps, charts that change depending on the metric selected, graphics with pop-up information, and more.

Even if you don’t include these elements in your content, you can make your content more interactive by encouraging social sharing and making it easy to do so. For example, you can include sharing buttons right on each post and include a call to action for readers to share.

You can also encourage interaction by ending your posts with a question that asks for readers to comment. Make sure you have a user-friendly commenting system that doesn’t require readers to log in and that makes it easy to follow sub-threads.

Drop the Business Facade

Many brands adopt a formal tone because they want to look professional and authoritative.

However, that can alienate brands from readers by making them seem faceless and aloof.

Instead, you want to be more relatable and personable. Show off your personality in the tone you use, and share personal information in appropriate doses.

For example, if you are writing about a financial issue, share your own financial success story or an anecdote about how you overcame a challenge. Readers will feel more engaged, which means they are more likely to read all the content, to share it, and to return to your site for new content.

If you do it right, content marketing increases user engagement and helps to grow your brand. Use these tips to start meeting your content marketing goals this year.