Keyword research should be included in a larger marketing strategy to identify your target audience and predict customer behavior. Every marketing strategy should begin with knowing your audience. To identify which keywords will most effectively attract web traffic, you need to predict how your customers will utilize search. Forecasting how your customers will behave starts with knowing who your customers are. What are their demographics? What do they care about? What are they looking for that relates to your business? Once you know who you’re targeting, the web offers a treasure-trove of information you can use in your keyword research. 

SEMrush is a very useful tool for both researching competitors when starting a site or for growing an established site. I really like to find weaker niche sites that still seem to be ranking for lots of keywords; SEMrush helps me see what they are ranking for and what I can potentially target. You can also see what keywords you’re on the cusp of ranking for with your established site - another very useful feature.
Anyone that reads my blog knows that am a huge fan of SEO and keyword research. I have grown flizo.com from 0 to over 75,000 organic visitors a month, all based on SEO and keyword research, using only KWFinder. I rarely write anything without first doing keyword research. In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about how a little SEO keyword research increased my reach by 170%.
However, this does not mean you cannot topple them. It just takes more of an effort in terms of content as your page has to build the trust. That is why you will see the "Google dance" happening for fresh content from a site that is not yet trusted or is not very authoritative. Google gives your page a chance and measures user click-throughs when it pushes you to certain spots in the SERPs and then measures user engagement levels when the traffic hit your site through those positions in the SERPs.
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