I am not against keyword research, many companies win the SERPs game by focusing on SEO keywords but fail in generating sales.They feel appearing on top of searches will win the customers. However, true SEO is, study of audience needs and then working those pain points.
To know what your audience wants, reach them and ask. Understand your customers pain points. Then address those issues, make the SEO points your title keywords, meta description, keywords and tags
Time have changed now. Today audience get everything without asking. Google search is still good business in inventory but I doubt if this is equally good as 10 years ago. In current scenario you need to reach to people, you can't just sit and wait. And you need to find your consumers, you need to pick them from the crowd. SEO works well if you can spot your consumers.
You can reach to your audience many ways.
- Create a form on your website and invite user queries. Also you can make this form your landing page.
- Find your niche, go to forums, look for experts, see what kind of questions they often answers.
- Find your Hashtags, engage in Twitter Chat, look what kind of question people ask or answer.
- Go to Quora, look for questions in your niche.Look for difficult and different questions and not the ordinary one.
- Go to real marketplace, meet some people physically. Know their pain points.Do real time market survey of buyers and sellers.
- Be available on Phone. People want to talk. Do not assign this task to 'Jenny', instead take the call yourself. 'Jenny' want salary, you want sell.
- Do the analysis of data gathered from above actions. Find the action keywords and not only keyword.
- Embed action keywords in your HTML.
- Think like an audience. Solve the problems.