Note - at this point Google already has baseline metrics from other search results. So, if your site beats them by a factor of say 3x then Google thinks - hey.. this page looks to be way better - so why not stick its rankings in the long term and why not even bounce it up higher and see what happens and measure again how users engage with the site?
When you go about doing your content marketing and spreading your content online, you must post the right content in the appropriate social channel - for example video on Youtube about new product line vs business anniversary on Twitter or Linkedin. This also ensures that people engage at higher levels with your content and are not spammed with content they do not want.
Competitor analysis should be an important part of your keyword research. It’s important to know how your competitors are ranking. Competitor analysis can reveal holes in your own content. Also, you should steal ideas from your competitors. However, never use the same content. Duplicate content will also be penalized by Google and is frowned upon generally. Emulate success, but be cognizant of keyword difficulty, which measures your chances of ranking with a keyword phrase due to significant competition. Also, be aware that Google almost always rewards brand keywords to the owner. You’re unlikely to trick Google into ranking you with your competitors’ brand names.
The total number of backlinks and their quality pointing to your complete website result in the overall authority of your domain. The external links that all point to a specific page will help this page to rank in the search engine results (SERPs). The relevance and quality of an external link are very important factors when you like to measure the impact / value of an link. To find out more about quality links have a look at this article on: the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog – https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/06/quality-links-to-your-site.html
Yes solid keyword data dramatically changes the game as far as rankings go. I have seen many tools that provide Cost per click stats and meaningless charts that confuse most users. the data Jaaxy provides helps drive “organic” traffic to your site on a consistent basis which will out perform PPC sites every time. I like how you say thinking like the end user, as I feel that way when I search. I dive into what people are looking for and it really helps drive content idea’s. I have seen great results from that.