Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Webspam team, recently covered the topic of stitched content. Stitched content is where you copy snippets from multiple articles or sources, make one article from the snippets and call it your own. One of the things I really like to hammer home is to focus on writing original, quality content. On the surface stitched content seems like it's original content, but not so fast.
Google has a pinpoint focus on making sure the sites in their index provide value to Google users. According to Matt, an article created with stitched content does not provide that value. It makes sense too. I know I wouldn't find much value in an article that contains five snippets from other sites as the author tries to pass it off as their own original article.
Now some sites like Wikipedia can get away with it because they are creating significant value for their users. Generally Wikipedia takes complicated topics and condenses everything into a tight knit (no pun intended) article. This is a bit different because Wikipedia's goal isn't to automate their content creation to try and rank higher organically.
When it comes to tactics like stitched content, I would always first look at what the intent is. Is it just automating and making content faster so a site can rank higher? When in doubt on how to create content for a site, don't take short cuts. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. I would always recommend that you write one quality article each week instead of 5 substandard articles. In the long run your readers and visitors will appreciate it, and you will reap those gains.
PHP developers have so many powerful frameworks to choose from it can be tough to keep up with them all. Each of the top tier frameworks has something to offer, though, and compelling reasons why you might choose it rather than all the other options. The Yii Framework is one of those top tier options. One of the big tools it brings to the table is its powerful code generation. Yii comes with both command line and web based code generation utilities which will alleviate the drudge works of creating Model classes for your DB schema, along with all the associated CRUD code.
Code generation exists elsewhere, but Yii not only generates clean, usable Model classes, it provides a whole skeleton for your web application. It pairs all this with a caching system built to reduce load on your server, along with a flexible theming/templating system like you'd expect from any modern PHP framework.
Yii is now celebrating five years since its initial release to the public, and it is still under active development. If you haven't yet found your framework soul mate, or you're going through a messy break up with your current one, Yii is a top contender you should take a look at. The solid documentation will give you a great introduction and guide to getting started.
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Like many of my blog posts, they start with a question that I've read on a discussion board. As you probably guessed, this post is about how to discover a new niche to start a website about. Of course I make it easy by saying it only takes 3-steps, but remember it's up to you ultimately to create the content (and if it's a blog a continual stream of fresh content) for your website to succeed. This point leads me to step one:
1.) Brainstorm a list of broad topics that you are interested in. I start with this step because if you're going to start a website, especially one you're going to be managing for fun or in your spare time, you're going to want to select a topic you're already interested in or wouldn't mind learning about. Your website visitors are going to appreciate the passion that comes through in your writing. You could probably fake the passion, but why not pick something you're already interested in?
2.) Check both the popularity and the competition for that keyword. Anyone that reads this blog knows that I absolutely love free tools, and I'm more than happy to recommend the best and most useful ones. In this case, I would use WordTracker.
Start plugging your keywords into WordTracker's search. As an example, I searched one of my favorite topics which is "basketball". As you can see, it will spit out a list of keywords based on search volume. Scroll down further and you'll see an even more useful report, showing the search volume AND competition for those keywords. On my "basketball" search, WordTracker just so happened to have 3 fairly popular keywords, with no competition. These are the keywords I'm interested in researching further. These keywords are:
These are 3 niche topics that I could fairly easily start a website around. Which leads me to the next step.
3.) Check the growth potential of these keywords. For this bit of research, I recommend using Google Trends. Plug your searches into Google Trends. In this instance we'll plug "best basketball quotes". The graph shows you how many searches have been done for the keywords you've entered, versus the total number of searches on Google over time. Ideally you want to find a keyword that is on an upward trajectory (up-and-coming). After all, you want to get in on the ground floor.
Looking at the peaks and valleys for "best basketball quotes", this may not be the best keyword. However, if you look at Google's "Rising" terms, it recommends looking at "best sports quotes" because it's a breakout term. A breakout term is one with a change in growth greater than 5000%. Now that sure sounds like a great potential up-and-coming niche.
4.) I'll even throw in a bonus step for you. We should really check out the popularity and competition for "best sports quotes". You'll want to go back to Wordtracker for that. According to Wordtracker, it has a fairly decent volume and low competition.
So there you have it. Don't say you never get something for free because I just gave you the next, great upcoming niche!
Ghost is a new blogging platform that has recently been released to the public after a highly successful Kickstarter, followed by a closed testing period. Upon learning about it, many people immediately respond "What's wrong with Wordpress?" The answer is, if Wordpress works great for you, then nothing. But Wordpress has grown tremendously over the years, it's not a simple blogging platform any more. It's evolved to support a major use case for it nowadays; a full fledged CMS. As such, for those that only need a platform for blogging, they can do with something more focused. That's the niche Ghost was created to fill. It's not trying to be a CMS, it's just trying to be a great blogging platform. It's also written using Node.js, which didn't exist when Wordpress was created. Wordpress is written in PHP, and while you can set up a stack for PHP that has Node.js-like concurrency and speed, Node.js is fast out of the box, if not widely supported on Shared hosting platforms.
There's a new generation of web applications emerging like Ghost. As the old guard has grown over the years, and become larger and more feature rich, some users yearn for trimmed down, more focused software. This inevitably leads to some of those users to put on their developer hats and make that software that they want to use. This is great for everyone. Even if you continue to use Wordpress, as a competing platform gains popularity, the Wordpress developers will have to react to the competition, and whether they do so by adding features, improving performance, refining the interface or a mix of all of those, it means evolution and improvement for everyone.
If you're curious about this application and looking for Ghost Hosting, we've added Ghost to the A2 QuickInstaller for CentOS 6 on our Dynamic VPS. We will be rolling it out to other Templates and the Cloud VPS soon. You can also install Node.js via the QuickInstaller and then download and install Ghost for yourself. It's totally free and really cool.