2. Targeted Keyword Discovery: Ideally you’ll want to do keyword research based on what the audience wants, not solely on what content the site already has (or plans to have sans audience targeting), which may be limited. I can do keyword research on health conditions and drugs (content I have on my site) and determine what the general population is searching for and optimize my current content, or I can cast my net wide and look at what my target audience wants first, then do my keyword research. You may find there are needs that your site is not meeting. Knowing my senior audience is interested in primarily in prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, I can first make sure I’m providing that content, and then further determine the top keywords in these areas (in the next article Step 2), and use those terms in relevant and high visibility areas on my site.
I’d add one thing to number 5: Writing good copy is crucial not just for your Title/snippet, but for your whole page, especially your landing page. You want people to stay on your page for a while and (hopefully) even navigate to other pages you have. Google looks at bounce rate and where they go after they hit your page. Learning to write good copy can not only increase conversion (if you’re selling something) but make your content more impactful and engaging. There are free books at most libraries or online to help.

I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!
You have also mentioned Quuu for article sharing and driving traffic. I have been using Quuu for quite sometime now and I don’t think they’re worth it. While the content does get shared a lot, there are hardly any clicks to the site. Even the clicks that are there, average time is like 0.02 seconds compared to more than 2 minutes for other sources of traffic on my website. I have heard a few guys having a similar experience with Quuu and so, I thought should let you know.
This truly amazing and I’m gonna share this with like minded people. I loved the part about flippa. What a great source to get ideas. Building links tends to be the hardest to do, but a few good quality links is all you need now a days to get ranked. I currently rank for a very high volume keyword with only 5 links all with pr 3,4 and good DA and PA. Good links are hard to get but you only need a few which is encouraging! Props for this post!
Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 
If you havent see it already, check out the links in shor's comment below - there are some great resources in there. In some cases you can also consider surveying your current audience or customers through email, on-site surveys or SurveyMonkey.  Be sure to ask for some profiling information that you can use for determining specific persona needs like age, sex, location, etc. (Probably best not to make it sound like a creepy text chat like I just did though...)  :)
Every website should have a content strategy focused around your top keywords. When you create content such as blog posts, videos, whitepapers, research reports and webinars, it gives people something to link to. In addition, the content you create can rank by itself in the search engines. For example, if you write a blog post on “How to Pick an SEO Company,” there is a possibility it will rank for some of the keywords you use in the title and in the body post, especially if the post gets linked to from other websites or shared a lot on social media. It also helps if your website as a whole already has significant high-quality links. 
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