Everyone recommends different market research tools, all of the tools give different data, some people will tell you to look for certain numbers, there are lots of different numbers to analyze...
It's enough to make you pull your hair out!
Even more maddening is that this is the one little step standing between you - and your dream of running a successful online business...
It's time to get past this step so that you can move on to marketing and making money. These are my own personal secrets for finding & researching potential niches, which I almost always do in 20 minutes or less:
Use ONE Set of Tools
Decide what you are going to use, and stick with that set of tools. If you start looking at keyword numbers across a variety of keyword research tools you'll get a big variation in the numbers. That is confusing I know, especially when you are just getting started.
All of the tools get their data from different sources. None of the data is going to be 100% accurate, but WordTracker is the industry standard - and it is the closest to true numbers that I have found. Also, Overture is dead. Any tools that draw from Overture's database are giving you false numbers.
Stick with WordTracker, or at least use them to double-check numbers against other tools or programs. I often pull up their free keyword tool for super quick keyword checks: http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com
Whatever you decide to use - Market Samurai, WordTracker, Google - use it and stick with it. That will keep you from going down a rabbit trail and getting confused.
There Are No Magic Numbers
We already know there are no accurate numbers. There are also no magic numbers. When someone asks the questions "How many searches is enough?" or "What number am I looking for?" - there is no cut and dried answer. The answer is that it's relative.
Maybe that just confuses you more, but let's look at it like this: You're not going to have just one web page. Or just one pay-per-click campaign. You are never going to be working with just one keyword phrase.
So it's less about how many searches each individual keyword phrase gets, and more about the niche as a whole and what you plan to do in it.
Just to throw out an example, I might put up a blog post around a keyword phrase that only gets 10 or 20 searches a day - if its a good keyword phrase. But I wouldnt set up an entire website around a keyword phrase that only gets 20 searches a day.
Also, it makes ZERO difference how many results there are when you search a possible keyword phrase. It doesnt matter if there are 3,000 or 3,000,000,000. Again, its relative to the project as a whole.
As a general rule, you are only competing with the top 10 results anyway. Everything past the first 5 or 10 pages is less an less relevant to the original search. You want to be in the top 10. Preferrably in the top 3 results. Those are your only true "competitors" - I dont even count the rest.
Micro Bigger is Better
If you are setting up a niche affiliate site, you're going to need more than just one page. So you're going to need more than just one keyword phrase. Every single page of your site will be optimized for its own keyword phrase, relevant to the content on that page.
You start with a more general theme, use more specific phrases for your categories, and use the longtail keyword phrases for your internal pages within each of those categories.
Mini sites never gain the authority that larger sites do, not in the search results and not in pay-per-click campaigns. It's true that search engines rank pages, not sites. But a larger site with a variety of inbound links to internal pages, along with solid internal link structure between relevant pages, carries more weight with Google.
You'll also expand your reach in your niche by having more pages to your site. The idea of micro niche marketing is to break it down on the page level. Not to create an entire website on "blue widgets with wheels made for Iowa only" - which would be all of about a 3 page site at the most.
Instead, create a website on "blue widgets" or "Iowa" and let your longtail keyword phrases be represented on individual pages of your site. You then use your content pages to promote your money pages. And your deep links coming to those pages from other sites will help your domain to rise in the engines as an authority. Make sense?
It's in the Intent of the Search
There are 205 searches a day for "presidential quotes". Of those 205 searches performed every day, how many of those people do you think will ultimately make a purchase based on their search? Isnt it more likely that they'll find the information, and go back to what they were doing with that info in hand? Yes.
There are 114 searches a day for "personalized baby blankets". These searchers are looking for a product to buy. They didnt search "how to personalize a baby blanket" or "history of personalized baby blankets".
When you're doing market research, consider who your market is and what they are searching for. Is it an information niche, or an ecommerce niche? Are they searching to read, or searching to buy? Make your work easy and go for buying markets!
Leave Room For Creative Thinking
Sure there's a little bit of science to keyword research and niche discovery. But you also need to use your head, and your gut instincts. Hot markets or trends, for example, are not going to show up in historical keyword data.
And of course, no amount of "perfect keyword research" is going to make someone spend $47 on an ebook at ClickBank for presidential quotes... when the other 9 results are giving them away for free.
The methods of Niche Discovery can sometimes be overcomplicated in my opinion. Any business boils down to this: find a market, and get in front of them with a product. Or find a cool product, and pitch it to the right market.
Next, See: How to Choose a Niche