Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Google's Realtime Search

Google announced several major changes yesterday to the way it will be delivering it's search results. They have recognised the impact of Twitter and other real-time applications in the importance of search relevance.
The importance of relevance has gone through the roof as the amount of information out there is growing. Relevance has become the critical factor.” Amit Singhal, Google Fellow.
So starting yesterday, Twitter tweets and Facebook Status updates (for public pages) will have a place in Google search results. Watch the video below to see how this works.

Learn more about Google's realtime search:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

SVG launches new tourism website

The Ministry of Tourism’s “bright and vibrant” new website got the full approval of guests who witnessed its launch earlier this week.

The site, www.discoversvg.com, which replaced www.svgtourism.com, was officially launched on Monday, at the training room of the National Insurance Services at Upper Bay Street, Kingstown.

Equipped with modern technological amenities, including FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube and Google accounts, the site also allows visitors wishing to travel to any of the many attractions showcased on the site to book accommodations online.

The Ministry of Tourism and SVG Tourism Authority managed site was funded by the European Union to the tune of €150 as part of the Special Framework Assistance (SFA) 2006 Tourism and Private Sector Development Project, which got started three years ago.

It was designed by the Dominica-based web company, Delphis Limited.

Consultant and project web designer Steve McCabe, along with partner Wendy Walsh of Delphis Limited, gave a live demonstration of the site, to the “oohs”, “ahhs” and “wows” of the audience, which included various stakeholders in the tourism sector, as well as employees of the various tourism bodies and the media.

President of the SVG Hotel and Tourism Association, Bianca Porter, said at the launch that the new site captures and showcases key information about the country’s niche markets through its photographs and up-to-date information.

She applauded the initiative that allows on-line booking and said she hoped more business would be generated through this facility. Porter also expressed confidence that the improved site would generate more interest in St. Vincent, resulting in more visitors to the country.

Also speaking at the launch was Minister of Tourism Glen Beache, who indicated that the site, along with other initiatives, would make St. Vincent and the Grenadines a tourism force to be reckoned with.

He added that a tourism website required special attention, and praised Delphis Ltd for the detailed work done. He noted that the website would help to better market the product being offered by St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which he described as the most complete package in the region.

The completed website project is just one of four components under the SFA 2006 umbrella, the others being a 2020 master plan for the tourism sector, the establishment of a hospitality and marine institute and the construction of a boardwalk at Villa.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WordPress blog basics

Some good WordPress tips & tweaks:


Monday, July 27, 2009

Web Analytics primer

If you're looking for a simple primer to web analytics, especially Google's, look no further than the acclaimed Occam's Razor blog and in particular this post that distils analytics down to the 5 basic tenets:

#1 Get the Basics Out of the Way.
#2 Understand Traffic Sources.
#3 Fix Stuff and Save Money
#4 the value of using the Site Overlay
#5 Focus on Outcomes


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Businesses Should Use Social Networking

"In a piece this year for the insider's technology blog, TechCrunch, entitled "Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet", Eric Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management at the University of Pennsylvania, argued that the way that we're using the internet has shattered the whole concept of advertising. We need no encouragement to share our opinions online regarding products and services and offer them star ratings; as a result, we're much more likely to look for personal recommendations from other customers than wait for a gaudy advert to beckon us wildly in the direction of a company website or online store. He claims we don't trust online advertising, we don't need online advertising, but above all we don't want online advertising."

And this is why we use social networking.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Using your Facebook vanity URL

If you use Facebook you'll probably be aware that they recently allowed ther users to register a 'vanity URL' (username is their name for it). Bigwigs have always been able to boast of an URL such as facebook.com/u2 , but this feature has been opened-up to (almost) everyone else.

The value, especially if you're a big user of facebook, is simply to be able to send people to your profile with an easy to remember URL. So I can now say 'check me out on Facebook at www.facebook/com/stevemccabe'.

But to fully utilise this feature, you'll need to make changes to your Facebook privacy settings. Because it's no good boasting of your new FB address if, when someone goes there, there's no infornation showing about you. So in your Facebook privacy settings, make sure you enable the Search Visability to 'Everyone'.

This way your new Facebook URL will say at least something about you, especially for non-Facebook users visiting the URL.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

10 Ways to energise your blog

Blogging is not dead.. but you might have neglected it for Facebook or Twitter. This article suggest 10 good ways to re-energise your blog! Don't forget, you can also automate your blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Better Surfing Experience

Surfing in Dominica, we tend to use all the default settings our ISP provides us. The problem is, their Domain Name Servers lag hours behind the rest of the world. So for a better surfing experience, use OpenDNS.org.

You can sign up for an account on OpenDNS.com (it's free), or simply start using their DNS right away. Go into your Network Settings, and change your Domain Name Servers to:

If you have a small home/office network, you can do this on your hub/router/modem.

Using OpenDNS will pull up a search page if a domain doesn't exist (rather then a 404 page) but it's worth the switch for the faster and more up-to-date DNS resolution.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Conficker what?

There's a good article about the Conflicker 'virus' that never appeared on April 1, like many pundits said it would. Scares like that should merely amuse you, knowing that you do have an up-to-date anti-virus package and your Windows is updated too.

In terms of anti-virus protection, there are two free options worth checking out: Avira, and AVG. For a good comparision of the merits of these products, also read this.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The New Facebook - Some Trips & Tricks

Since Facebook launched the 'new look' for their Home Page this month, many users have criticised its layout. But as with any change, there are pros and cons... and ways around it.

Changing the Look of Your Facebook Page

First, let's take a look at a few ways to change your the look of your new Facebook home page.

1) The following article from InsideFacebook.com offers some tips on how to customise your facebook page. These include;
  • Hiding Friends you don't want to see
  • Grouping friends into Friend List
  • Change your default home page filter

Read the entire article here: 3 Tips for Customizing the New Facebook Home Page

2) And for those who want to return to the old look, Steve provides a summary of how to change it.

Sometimes we forget the whole point about using Firefox is that, with extensions, we can customise the surfing experience. The new Facebook 'design' is a good example; you can be sure that if others don't like it there will be an add-on to fix it.

Facebook Purity and Facebook Fixer can both be used to fix design issues with the new Facebook. Both are Greasemonkey scripts, so you'll need to install this first. But you'll be able to:

* hide annoying friends and their quiz obsessions
* hide the annoying 'Highlights' column
* and much more.

Advantages of the New Facebook Page

One of the strengths of the new Facebook setup is that it offers more power to those who have set up a Business Page.

From here on out, whenever you post to your Business Page, a feed will appear in the 'News Feed' of all of your Fans (unless they decide to 'Hide' it).

So use this opportunity to your advantage - give your Fans some brief, relevant information about your business - current specials, upcoming events, etc. They will see your information right in their Feed, giving you great access to you customers. Keep it brief & interesting - don't give them a reason to click the 'Hide' button!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Convert PDF files to Word Docs!

This wonderful little site makes it easy to convert any PDF into a Word Document.

Best of all, it's free! Visit PDFtoWord.com

Simply upload your file and it is converted and e-mailed back to you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Going Green for Travel Businesses

How does "green thinking" affect a consumer's decisions when making travel plans?

A report just released by PhoCusWright reveals the following:

  • More than four out of ten U.S. travelers (44%) consider environmental impact to be important to them when planning travel

  • A majority of U.S. travelers (56%) are skeptical of what companies tell them about their green practices

  • Just under a third of travelers indicate a willingness to pay some sort of premium for green travel

  • Only 8% of green travelers believe it is easy to find green travel options

(From PhoCusWright Report here.)


These findings have a significant impact on the strategies used to market 'green vacations' to those looking for environmentally friendly and sustainable holidays.

  1. Establishing social credibility is more important than ever when trying to reach green travelers. Since many travelers are willing to pay a little more for green travel options, it is worth making the effort to convince them.
  2. Word-of-mouth marketing techniques are critical to success here, as they help bolster a company's social credibility.
  3. Make it easy for your potential visitors to get this information. Start with your current mailing list of past customers who already trust you and promote the green aspects of your business to them.

Use your website, blog and e-mail newsletters to tell your customers how green you are!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is a bit of a buzz-word (or rather phrase) at the moment, but what is it? Simply put, it's the concept that a collection of computers are used, over the Internet, for storage of data, running applications, and general web-based services.

The Net itself is a 'cloud', but the fast-growing trend of applications being used directly on the Web is a good example of using 'the cloud'. For instance, one can dispense with MS Office on your PC and use Google Docs, or Zoho.com for many of your word processing needs. Presuming you have a good internet connection, of course!

The big advantage of course is that your data is accessible from anywhere you're connected to the web. The cloud is also an ideal place to backup your data (see our post about online backups). It does raise the issue of how secure and trustworthy a service is, especially given the number of new startups there are, vying for your attention. But the big guys (Google, Microsoft, Zoho) all offer services that can help you get into 'the cloud'.

Facebook Users Are Getting Older

Despite the occasional misuse of the web as mentioned in a previous post (Facebook Scam), it is still the most cost-effective channel where small businesses can focus their marketing efforts.

Our recent infatuation with Facebook, and the marketing opportunities available there, is a result of the changes that have been taking place on this very popular social networking site.

Facebook is continuing to experience an outlandish growth rate.

Last month, the greatest percentage increase came from Women Aged 55 and older - a segment which has a lot of purchase power and decision-making clout.

"Nearly a quarter of all Facebook users are over 35 today - quite a change from Facebook’s roots as a social networking tool for college students just a few years ago."

This is why we continue to recommend that our clients set up Facebook Pages for their businesses.

Visit our Facebook page here:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Facebook scam

Watch out for a Facebook scam. It is apparently rare, but like any other popular web medium, people are using it to try to scam money from others. Read more about it here.

Whether it be via an e-mail or a website, if someones is asking for money from you (or promising you untold millions), treat it with a pinch of salt!

Friday, January 16, 2009

To Twitter or Not to Twitter?

Twitter this, Twitter that... there is a lot of hype about Twitter in the media and particularly in the internet marketing world. One of Twitter's greatest claims to fame so far is President-Elect Obama's use of it to announce his running mate; another is ordinary people covering the Mumbai hotel explosions.

But many people I talk to are just plain confused about Twitter. What IS it? How in the world can it be used to promote a business?

Well, this week two well-respected experts summarised the value of 'the Tweet'.

David Pogue of the New York Times offered his "Twittering Tips for Beginners" in his column. After witnessing first-hand the power of Twitter for getting an immediate answer to a question while judging a grant program, David saw the Twittering light. (Read his article here.) While admitting that Twitter can become a drain on your time, he concludes that Twitter is:
"... a brilliant channel for breaking news, asking questions, and attaining one step of separation from public figures you admire. No other communications channel can match its capacity for real-time, person-to-person broadcasting."

Brendon Sinclair of Sitepoint.com also had an epiphany about Twitter this week. In his Newsletter article entitled "Oh My Goodness, I Undestand Twitter" Brendon equates Twitter conversations to his wife's ability to talk endlessly to her friends about a piece of furniture -- he explains how these methods of communication are simply different ways of strengthening bonds and building relationships.

"That's what Twitter is -- a relationship builder, a brand builder, a communication tool, and much more."

It is a 'different way to communicate' and while some of us don't see it that way, as Brendon points out "it's working for them."

So on we go... Follow us on Twitter!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Facebook Surpasses 150 Million Users per Month

Today the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, announced:
Facebook’s audience has now crossed the 150 million monthly active user mark. If Facebook were a country, it would now be the 8th most populous in the world. From Inside Facebook.

While many small business owners are still reluctant to jump into Facebook, surely gaining access to 150 million people on the web is nothing to scoff at!

Granted a large portion of Facebook users are younger citizens, but recent demographics from Facebook show a substantial growth in the 25+ age group.

So if you're not accessing this totally free source of potential visitors to your website, why not? Sign up for an account, then get started with a page for your small business today.

A good example of what you can do with a page can be seen on the one we created to promote Dominica, and the growth from 0 to 3,700 fans in just a few months is a testament to the potential Facebook offers.

    Sunday, January 4, 2009

    Our Web Traffic Report Card for 2008

    Now 2008 is over we can look back at website traffic for 2008 and compare with the previous year. And it looks great!

    Our flagship travel site aVirtualDominica.com had a total of 233,667 unique Visits (up from 173,157 in 2007). Page Views almost doubled, 807,771 (up from 467,217), and both the Avg. Time on Site (at 3:35 minutes) and the Pages per Visit (3.46) were up.

    Elsewhere on our network of sites, Visit-Dominica also showed healthy traffic stats - 111,611 Visits, 680,136 Pageviews, 3:53 minutes Avg. Time on Site and a very respectable 6.09 Pages/Visit.

    Having long-term traffic stats is essential - and looking at them regularly even more so!