To qualify to appear in the snack pack or the resulting local search pages, your business needs to be verified by the Google My Business service, which involves registering, getting a physical post card from Google with a code, validating the code and setting up perfect NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) data across your site, Google Maps, and other citation services and directory listings.
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.