Good point,The thing with this client is they wanted to mitigate the risk of removing a large number of links so high quality link building was moved in early before keyword research. So it is on a case by case basis, but defiantly a good point for most new clients I work with who do not have pre-existing issues you want to do Keyword Research very early in the process. 
Google has made it clear that their primary objective is to present the best possible experience to its users. For websites looking to rank on top of Google SERPs, a quality user experience is imperative. Fifteen years ago, websites could rank high based on manipulative tactics like keyword stuffing, link scheming, and hidden text. Since these actions negatively affected user experience, Google began to crack down on them with each algorithm update, and those techniques eventually became counter-productive for ranking position. In 2018, to rank well on Google, a website must focus on:
At the end of the day, webmasters just need to know their sites: chances are your analytics tool is more like a person than a software package, and will classify traffic in irrational ways. I’ve stumbled across website traffic originating from diverse and confusing sources being classed as direct — often requiring a considerable amount of thought and exploration to work out what is happening.
Also take this opportunity to add answers to questions that you often hear from customers or prospects. You may want to speak with sales representatives or others in your organization who have the most customer contact. They’ll be able to tell you for what customers are looking, what type of questions they have about your products or services, and what are the most common barriers. This is all valuable information that you can incorporate into your content strategy.
Organic is what people are looking for; the rest of these simply put things in front of people who may or may not be seeking what you offer. We know that approximately X number of people are looking for Y every day. So if we can get on front of those people, we have a much greater opportunity to create long-term relationships and increase our overall ROI.

But optimized keywords aren't just for organic search marketing. There's tremendous value in optimizing your PPC keywords. To be effective with your pay-per-click campaigns, you must speak the searcher's language. The more keywords you select that your customers are searching for, the more traffic you'll drive to your website, the more consumers you'll convert to customers.

Like I said at the beginning, building organic traffic is hard. Anything that promises a shortcut to an avalanche of traffic will more than likely lead to a penalty down the road. Embrace the daily grind of creating great content that helps users and provides a solution to what they’re looking for. In the end that will drive more organic traffic than any shortcut ever will.
This post and the Skycraper technique changed my mind about how I approach SEO, I’m not a marketing expert and I haven’t ranked sites that monetize really well, I’m just a guy trying to get some projects moving on and I’m not even in the marketing business so I just wanted to say that the way you write makes the information accesible, even if you’re not a native english speaker as myself.

Organic is different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in many searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are still your best long-term customers. In my experience, they have lower bounce rates and more pages visited, and they are more likely to return.
If Google finds two identical pieces of content, whether on your own site, or on another you’re not even aware of, it will only index one of those pages. You should be aware of scraper sites, stealing your content automatically and republishing as your own. Here’s Graham Charlton’s thorough investigation on what to if your content ends up working better for somebody else.

One new method you may want to consider adding to your SEO and content marketing strategies is cornerstone content. A cornerstone content strategy involves creating around three to five main content articles on your site that target the main keywords you want your site to rank for. You then ensure the rest of the content you release on your site relates to one of your cornerstone articles and insert links back to them.
Content development and optimization should never be considered completely finished. As new products are introduced to the market or new information becomes available, the focus of your business or the needs of your audience may change. Regularly reviewing and updating your existing content will show your readers that they can trust the information on your website and that you’re staying on top of the latest trends in your industry. It will also help you attract new users to the market, better understand the needs of your audience, and gain ideas for evolving or diversifying your products or services.
Now that you have your focus keyword(s), enter them into a tool such as Answer the Public, which uses results from Google Autocomplete to deliver questions related to your keywords. Identify questions that are relevant to your content and add them to your post. Very often, these questions can be added in the form of subheads. Then, develop new content to answer these questions. Use complete sentences for search purposes, and incorporate your focus keywords wherever possible. But avoid keyword stuffing! Some reorganization of your content may be necessary.
This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
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