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I think the whole SEO industry can't digest this stuff. The whole industry and every SEO strategy comes to an END, when "keywords" becomes the center of discussion. After working so long in SEO sector, I think putting more emphasis on keywords is nothing but wastage of time. For example, if I want to search for information about "search engine optimization", then obviously I'll use either search engine optimization or other relevant terms like SEO, web site promotion, search engine marketing, internet marketing and so on. This happens the same while writing one article on any given topic. We include all those terms (relevant to the topic) while typing down the topic, don't we? In my opinion, giving more time in research the whole theme and targeting one keyword does not help you in writing a focused content. LSI (Latent Semantic Index) too like natural and pure content without any stuffing of a specific term/terms.
But keyword research has a great value while opting for off page campaigning for one web site. Keywords as Anchor Text carry a great value and can increase your link popularity; thus grows your SE ranking; thus grows the volume of traffic.
These are my personal assumptions. I need more feedbacks on this issue. I would be privileged!