Interview on Cyprus issues

An interview was requested from InterCyprus by the French newsletter Moteurzine on issues relating to InterCyprus.com, Internet in Cyprus etc. Since the interview is in French we thought of posting here a version in English for visitors to InterCyprus wishing to have a knowledge of the issues addressed in this interview.

Can you introduce to us InterCyprus? How do you consider your site, as a directory, a portal or a guide?

InterCyprus is at the moment more of a portal and directory. In its full development it will also serve as a guide, with first hand information on many aspects of Cyprus life, in addition to its directory’s listings of other sites relating to Cyprus. InterCyprus addresses the need for fast access to useful information on Cyprus, both for the Cypriot and the visitor, or any national anywhere in the world would like to have readily information on our island and its people.InterCyprus is developed through a company. Can you present it?

InterCyprus is a private concern. It has developed out of our magazine publishing company Ores Publishing Ltd. which publishes the first ( in chronological and circulation terms) television and children’s magazines in Cyprus. Our thorough familiarization with Desk Top Publishing and the great extend of use of the Internet in search of information for our magazine publishing helped very much the development of InterCyprus.

Your company is working on InterCyprus, which are the other services that you offer?

As mentioned above we are for many years engaged in print magazine publishing through our sister company Ores Publishing Ltd. InterCyprus offers also web services, web site authoring and design, web hosting and web promotion.

Cyprus is a country which is not really well-known by French people. Can you tell us more about it?

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. It’s population is around 700,000. Demographically 80% of the Cypriots are Greek and, 18% are Turkish and 2% are Armenians and Latinos. The Turkish invasion in 1974 keeps until today around 38 percent of the island in the north under occupation. Settlers from Turkey in the occupied territory have upset the demographic balance and are now estimated to be more than the native Turkish Cypriots.
Efforts exerted by the United Nations for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus problem until now are facing rejection by Turkey and the leadership in the occupied territory.

There has been a massive and forceful shift of population occupied in 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees who were moved to the internationally recognized Government controlled area in the south. In spite of this, thanks to the efforts of the Cypriots in the free territory economy has boosted and is now favorably compared to European economies. It mainly relies on the Tourism, Services and Manufacturing industries. Agiculture is also an imortant sector.

Economy in the occupied territory is very poor, mainly because of world isolation and its dependence in the already shaken economy of Turkey. The isolation of the occupied territory is not a result of any boycotting by the Cyprus Government but a consequence of the illegal status of the regime in the occupied territory. Ports and airports in the occupied territory are considered illegal by the international community and communications are only possible via Turkey. The same with business dealings and exports, which also have to be executed through Turkey, the only country recognizing the self proclaimed illegal “state” in the occupied territory.

France has always been a firm supporter of a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus problem and of the right of the displaced population to return to their homes under conditions of peace and security within a unified Cyprus.

And what about the Internet in Cyprus?

The economic vitality of Cyprus economy and excellent telecommunications network has allowed the rapid expansion of the internet network on the island. The familiarization of the Cypriots with foreign languages (especially English) has also helped greatly. However, some restrictions by the central government in export of currency has limited the use of online business in the past few years. Restrictions have now decreased and are expected to be totally lifted by next year.

Soon, Cyprus is going to join the European Union. Do you think it will change something for the situation of Internet in your country?

As explained above, the lifting of restrictions by next year (mainly because of the joining of the European Union) will greatly enhance the situation of Internet in Cyprus.

Additionally, the fact that Cyprus will be the closest country of the European Union to the East, and especially the Middle East, will greatly assist the interaction of European businesses with the East through Cyprus, also through Internet services.

Of great help will also be the expected lifting of all remaining custom duties and other restrictions on European imports and exports to and from Cyprus and vice versa. Also the lifting of all restrictions on employment, business investments, property acquisition etc.

Which are the different search engines available in Cyprus? Which ones are the favorites of your Internet users? (In France, it is Google (more than 50%) and Yahoo! (more than 15%).

Yahoo and Google are the most popular search engines in Cyprus as well. At this point they probably have an equal share, but Google is gaining more ground every day. Local directories and portals have also a substantial share.

9) Do you think that the regionalist and thematic search engines have a chance to compete with the big ones?

Eventually yes. As more and more websites are created and are being indexed by search engine spiders, relevancy will be more and more difficult to be achieved by automated means. Human eyes through regionalist and thematic search engines will do the job better, or at least they will provide an additional reassurance of search engine results.

Which are the conditions that a site has to fulfill to be present on your directory?

Basically, it must have original content related to Cyprus, must be up and running 24/7, must not contain adult or illegal content and must not make excessive use of pop-ups or anything else that slows downloads or hinders site navigation. Standard inclusion is free.

Do you have Spam problems on your site?

Fortunately not, yet.

What is the hardware architecture of InterCyprus?

Red Hat Linux 6.1 servers for hosting . Both Macintosh and Windows platforms for web development.

Why you didn’t choose a .cy extension for your domain?

InterCyprus addresses in a great extend visitors to Cyprus. Surely .com is much more familiar and was available for the domain name at the time we requested it. All other extensions have also been registered.

How many sites do you have in your directory?

Around 500. We give emphasis to quality rather than quantity. The online status of listed sites are monitored daily and are listings temporarily removed from the directory if they are down more that 24 hours.

How many people are visiting you every week? Do you know their profile?

Unique visitors are around 4,000 per week. Page visits are around 10,000 a week. This number is expected to rise sharply as InterCyprus has now been listed in Yahoo, Dmoz and LookSmart directories and has gained a considerable high ranking for many relevant search terms in Google, Ask Jeeves, MSN, AltaVista, Lycos and many other search engines and directories. It has a PR Google value of 6 and is expected to rise to PR7 with the next update which will include the above important inbound links.

As recorded by our server logs
visitors to InterCyprus.com
originate primarily as follows:
.com - 41.6% (International)
.uk - 28.8% (United Kingdom)
.cy - 16.9% (Cyprus)
.gr - 2.2% (Greece)
Note: Visitors from .coms could
originate from any country.

Who is bringing you traffic? And why?

Mainly Google, Ask Jeeves and MSN, as well as regional UK engines, portals and directories, partners of Yahoo and LookSmart. Also BizEurope.com, B2B portal and directory of which InterCyprus is the sole representative in Cyprus. Next is mamma.com, although its search results are sometimes not so relevant. Good traffic also comes from Eurosearch.com and Ired.com (real estate directory for our real estate section). Many more less important sources account for about 30% of our referral traffic.

Traffic from United Kingdom has a major share because of the great interest from the UK for holiday travel to Cyprus and property acquisition on the island. Also because of the fact that there is a large Cypriot Community in London and other UK cities.

What have you done to improve your visibility on the Net and especially on the search engines?

As outlined above, InterCyprus has now been listed in Yahoo, Dmoz and LookSmart directories and has gained a considerable high ranking, through careful optimization for many relevant search terms in Google, Ask Jeeves, MSN, AltaVista, Lycos and many other search engines and directories.

Many portals and search engines are giving as “sponsored links” pay-per-click results. What do you think about it? Do you consider to do it on InterCyprus?

We have tested this in the early beginnings. We found that for a directory of such an extensive range of themes the cost can be great. Also, there are so many restrictions in title and description (especially in Overture) that our content could not possible be effectively advertised. We are more than happy with the traffic we get as described above. PPC traffic is probably more suited for direct sales internet sites than for directories.

Which is the economic model behind InterCyprus?

If I had to name one it would be LookSmart (on a smaller scale of course). however, InterCyprus is built with the future in mind. We are not in for a quick profit. We’ d rather lose on revenue now by refusing ad banners and other paid publicity that will diminish fast and easy downloads and ease of navigation for the visitors and built a trusted portal directory that will bring more revenue in the future through its featured paid listings and other carefully selected revenue sources.

The time where everything is free on Internet is finished. Now, if we want information, we have to pay for it? What do you think about that?

Free basic information will always be available. It is free information that will act as a “magnet” of paid information. However, carefully selected paid information often saves time and does the job better. We are paying a lot for information, images, etc through the Internet for our publishing needs and found it less costly in the long run than time consuming search for free information. Care, however, must be exercised for scams, where you pay for useless information. We only buy information if the sellers provide a means for us to test the information source we’ll subscribe to. A good example (which we use as TV magazine publishers) is IMDB pro.

How do you see the evolution of the searching tools in the following months and particularly the evolution of InterCyprus?

As I outlined earlier, thematic and localized directories will rise in importance and this will affect InterCyprus positively. On the global scale, Yahoo has implemented lately some changes which are considered a blow to its Yahoo Express paid listings but may prove to be beneficial to its users. Time will tell what the real outcome of this move proves to be. Google seems to be the winner of the game for the next couple of years at least. Google, however, has to be very careful how to handle its success. It may turn into a boomerang if they try paid listings or if they don’t continuously strive to maintain and improve high relevancy in their search results. This is a tough job and there is always the chance that a new genius may come up with a much more effective set of algorithms that will fill in the present pitfalls in Google searches. Most of the other search engines are so much involved in paid listings of Overture featured results on top of their search results pages that don’t seem to have much to expect for the future.

To finish, a more personal question, what is your favorite site (except InterCyprus) and why?

IMDB.com. It is a veteran site on the Internet and has provided since a long time useful information on Films and TV productions valuable to our work as TV Publishers. I use it also personally to check on the latest films.

Thank you very much for your replies.

My sincere thanks to you and your readers for your interest in Cyprus and InterCyprus.