Here's my story.
Last year I did The Challenge and loved it. I got Market Samurai and followed the Challenge's process to pick keywords. If you don't know, their process is this (or at least this is what it was last year and I think it's still the same):
Find a keyword with:
Broad match SEOT > 80/day
PBR > 15%
SEOC < 30,000
This keyword needs to also have several other keywords that Google sees as related and come up under the same Market Samurai seed word search that also meet these criteria. One becomes your theme keyword, the rest category keywords.
Then you look at the SEO Competition matrix and use PR, BLP, Yahoo Directory, Keyword in Title and Keyword in URL. Your theme keyword must have one line of all green to pass. Only the theme keyword needs this, not the category keywords.
Then you look for some commerciality and if it passes that too you're set with your theme and category keywords.
I used this last year and it worked and I got a site that eventually ranked #3 for my theme keyword in Google and made a little money which was exciting.
Now I want to do more of this and create additional niche sites. I had hoped to just follow the same process to a tee over and over again. But now, for various reasons, that doesn't seem feasible.
First of all, even Market Samurai itself apparently no longer sees the Challenge's criteria as making sense. Along with their "The Challenge" filter, they added a filter called "Golden Rule" where, for example the SEOC is < 100,000 instead of the < 30,000 in the Challenge criteria, which is a big difference. And MS specifically said this is a more realistic number for SEOC, especially due to some changes in how MS gets numbers from Google since last year, I believe.
In addition, even using the easier to meet Golden Rule criteria, I still find it unbelievably hard to find keywords that meet these. I have searched for days, putting in very common terms to get hundreds back to analyze and sometimes ended up with only one or none out of all of them meeting these Golden Rule criteria. Far from being able to find a theme keyword and category keywords that all meet the criteria.
Then I came across a site offering Market Samurai keyword research tips and the guy basically just blows up the entire thing. He recommends not even worrying about SEOC at all, since who cares how many other sites there are as long as the top 10 are easy enough to beat. He uses exact match Total Searches instead of broad match SEOT as the Challenge does. As far as the competition matrix, he does a whole bunch of in depth analysis, not only in MS but also using some other things to cross check, that I couldn't even follow, but a lot more complex than "just find one green line." And a lot of what he said made sense.
So now I'm confused. I really want to have a basic heuristic I can use that works and makes sense and sadly I don't think the one taught in The Challenge works that well for me anymore. The Golden Rules that Market Samurai itself suggests also don't seem to work well. And as far as SEO Competition matrix analysis, I'm really unsure what I should be doing in MS, as well as if I should be looking at anything to compare in other programs or places as some have suggested.
I know there are some people around here who have this down to almost a science and seem to be able to find working (or at least probably good) keywords almost at will. I'm completely clueless as to how they are doing this given that the process I had thought works is now giving me almost no keywords after days of searching.
So I was hoping to get advice. But let me be specific. I'd really like to hear advice from people who use Market Samurai and know how it works well and who have actually had success picking keywords. Not just people who have a theory, but people who have a process that consistently gets them good rankings and makes them some money.
I'd really appreciate any help with this. Again my hope is to decide on a basic process that I can follow again and again. I understand there are always special cases or times you have to make an exception here or there. But to have a strong set of guidelines would be fantastic.
Thanks so much to anyone who can help!