Over 3,000 Searches per Month
Now, it's important to note that this is the personal figure I came up with and it is by no means set in stone. Only you can decide what's an acceptable number of searches. It's simple really: More traffic = more money.
And obviously more searches will mean more visitors, which means more potential customers, and therefore more money.
The rule of over 3,000 or at least over 2,000 searches per month is just because quite simply, I don't see it as worth my time to pursue any keywords with less searches than that. I don't want to fight over pennies, and you don't need to either. We want to create sites that make over $300 a month here.
However, if you are just creating your first site, and you're prepared to maybe only make $200 a month from a website, then by all means go for a keyword that gets 1,000 searches a month. 200 bucks a month is still a lot of money.
Now these are sweeping generalizations I've just made, how profitable a site is will depend on many other factors and not exclusively the search volume. But you get the idea. I will say this though... I'd rather spend an extra hour researching keywords to find one that gets double the traffic and therefore double the sales over the entire sites life, than settle for a really low volume keyword that limits the sites profitability right off the bat. This is a huge point.
Don't be lazy with your keyword research.
Keep looking until you find something GOOD, don't settle for second best (a low volume keyword, or one with high competition). Side note: Most websites you build will bring in income for at least one year by the way, so taking that extra time to find a winner is WELL WORTH IT.
Now, as a minimum I'd go for at least 2,000 searches per month on your main term. Let the other marketers fight over pennies. I've found that anywhere around 3k though really is a sweet spot though between competition and amount of traffic.
Although sometimes you will find an absolute nugget. I'm talking like 30,000 searches per month and next to no REAL competition (Authority sites or other websites). And yeah it does happen (although not often enough!)... Man I love those days... Anyway, another reason for the rather large 3,000 searches/month requirement is the massive inaccuracy of the Google Keyword tool.
Sometimes it under estimates the traffic (shows less searches than there really is) but usually (70% of the time) it over estimates (e.g. Google says 5k searches and really there's 3,000 per month). This is a huge problem, I don't know why Google's figures are so far off, I mean it's their company conducting the searches right?
Apparently it's because it includes it's search partners as well or something. If you want to read more on that, here's an interesting article I found on it: http://www.search-engine-war.co.uk/2008/07/how-accurate-is.html So it ain't perfect but it's the best tool we got. Which is why I go for keywords that get over 3,000 searches per month. Just to be on the safe side.
Important: The only exception might be a product name, in which case I'd for it regardless of the keyword tools estimates if I thought it was popular. Because if a product's got demand, then you can bet people are searching for it. How do you know if people are searching for a product?
A high gravity on Clickbank for example would usually dictate that there's bound to be a lot of people searching for it. Or even a high alexa ranking on the merchants website would do Anything under 700,000 would usually mean it's getting a lot of visitors.
Finally, I just want to demonstrate how much you can actually make from 3,000 searches per month. So here's a simple formula: Let's say you're ranked #1 for the term and get a conservative 50% of the traffic to your site.
Although, you'll probably get more once you optimize your page title (more about this later on). And let's say you have a 1% conversion rate which is the bog standard, in reality highly focused websites achieve closer to 3%.
Finally, you're promoting a product that pays $30 commission, once again, conservative in an industry where everyone seems to now offer commission on back end sales too. So, 1,500 visitors means 15 customers which means 15x30 = $450 in sales, every single month from a site that's going to take just hours to set up! It really is so realistic to make a lot of money. But anyway, moving on...