How to Do Keyword Research?
There are many ways to perform keyword research and a variety of tools to use to gather the data you need. In Google Keyword Planner you can filter the keywords by monthly searches. You can also see search volume is trending with a visual graph. It also depends on how specific the search query is in your industry. Google Ads has a column in keyword planner called Competition, and is ranked High, Medium, or Low. Competition is particularly useful for PPC data, but you can check this out for SEO to see how competitive your area of business is in general, so this can drive overall strategy. If you are a smaller business, aim for medium and low competition keywords.
Is User Engagement a Ranking Signal?
User engagement is the way to measure how a visitor coming from organic or paid search takes actions on the site. It factors data like clicks from search results to visiting pages; the amount of time spent on the page(s); the drop-offs after visiting only one page (bounce rate); the page relevancy to the query (if they quickly returned to search to visit another result); the actions they took on page (buttons clicked, subscriptions, add to cart, etc.). Now, Google has ways to collect the above data via Google Analytics, Chrome Browser, cookies, etc. Still, they don't explicitly say that engagement metrics are ranking signals, though they have admitted to using click data to modify SERPs for particular queries. Experimentation, though, has shown that pages who score well in these metrics influence their ranking. For example, a lower bounce rate has a positive effect, or clicks coming en mass during a short period can push higher a page only to drop it when the trend washes out. On click data, the Google team acknowledges that upon measuring clicks in the SERPs, they would demote pages with less engagement in favor of others that get more clicks, albeit ranking lower. We have to consider that click data is used on all Google products, so Google Maps with business listings, Google images, and YouTube videos fall into the soup. The fun part is that engagement metrics affect rankings leaving out the old-school hunt for more backlinks. That's why many professionals used to count on backlinks are left empty-handed.