It's no secret that Search Engine Optimization can be a trick subject. There are different ways and different theories...not all of which that are good practices to get you or your clients site ranked. But one thing is for certain, proper research will give you the best chance to succeed.
Whether you are a business owner, or a working as your own digital agency to help small businesses, it's vital to understand that you HAVE to do research on your niche, your competitors, your local area and your possible keywords to have the best chance of success.
Keyword research is perhaps the most important. If you are working for a client and optimizing his site, make sure you do a deep dive to understand the business needs, and of course what their customers would search for to find them in a search.
Our web design McKinney TX friends, who also specialize in SEO, have told us they spend countless hours doing research on a daily basis to ensure they are getting their clients the best possible service.