The pages on your site that are long form content or are the key pages - must have Outbound Links to other "authority Sites" and pages in your industry or niche. By no means should you link to your competitors pages - but Google is rewarding pages that understand which other authority pages exist in its niche - and pull them into a "link cluster". back in the days we were all scared to link out to ther sites - fearing that our link juice will leak out. However, this is not the case and Google is rewarding people for sharing other authority and relevant content online.
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.