The 12 Days of Christmas Online Scavenger Hunt

santa-sackIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And what better way to kick off the holiday season than by receiving a Christmas present from Search Engine College?

All last week, we were tossing about ideas for how to gift our blog readers and members at Search Engine College in a fun and unique way this holiday season. We could have sent out an animated snowman card; we could have given out a boring discount coupon; or we could have had a one-day Black Friday sale that many people would have missed out on.

But this year, we’ve come up with something completely different. Presenting: the 12 Days of Christmas Online Scavenger Hunt!

How to Win

Every day for the first 12 days of December, we are giving away a 6 month subscription to Search Engine College. Each subscription includes access to ALL our online courses and training videos, as well as our exclusive discussion forums and industry discounts area. Each 6 month subscription is worth USD 594. That’s over $7,100 in prizes to be won!

All you have to do to win is be the first person to find the Christmas icon hidden somewhere on our web site at www.searchenginecollege.com. The icon will change daily and will look like one of the following:

xmas-icons-hunt
As soon as you spot the Christmas icon, simply tweet the page URL to us @secollege so we can verify and send you your prize. Make sure you follow us and use the hashtag #xmasscavengerhunt in your tweet. If you don’t have a Twitter account, simply post the URL and hashtag to our Facebook Wall, or our Google+ Page, or you can email the URL to us study [at] searchenginecollege [dot] com.

We will have a countdown banner at the top of every page on Search Engine College reminding you which icon you are looking for and how many hours/minutes/seconds you have left to find it. When someone has found the icon, the banner image will change to WINNER FOUND and the clock stopped until the next icon is posted. And NO, the banner icon does not count as a find – it must be within the page body ;-) . Also, category or tag archive pages don’t count. We need the individual post/page URL please.

There will be 12 winners in total (1 each day) and if the icon isn’t found one day, it will carry over to the next day until all prizes are won. If you win and are an existing paid member of Search Engine College, your free 6 month subscription will be tacked on to the end of your existing subscription.

We will send out clues to the icon’s location and announce our winners each day via Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If you are already on our mailing list, we will also email you a picture of the day’s icon in advance to give you a headstart.

Starts 1st December

As this competition is a global one, we have tried to plan the daily start time to suit as many timezones as possible. The fun kicks off at the following times:

  • New York (U.S.A.)  Sunday, 1 December 2013 at 5:00 p.m   EST  UTC-5 hours
  • Los Angeles (U.S.A.)  Sunday, 1 December 2013 at 2:00 p.m   PST  UTC-8 hours
  • London (United Kingdom)  Sunday, 1 December 2013 at 10:00 p.m   GMT  UTC
  • Sydney (Australia)  Monday, 2 December 2013 at 9:00 a.m   AEDT  UTC+11 hours
  • Wellington (New Zealand)  Monday, 2 December 2013 at 11:00 a.m   NZDT UTC+13 hours

So don’t miss out, – make sure you brush up on your searching skills in advance and join us for the scavenger hunt fun from December 1st.

Happy Holidays from Search Engine College!

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Introducing: Search Engine College Subscription

Happy Search Engine College subscriberToday marks a very exciting day at Search Engine College.

For the past few years, we have listened to feedback from existing students and graduates who told us they LOVED our courses, but wished there was a way they could study more units without having to pay a premium for each one separately.

Well, now that’s a reality. It’s taken us over a year to put it together, but today we have finally flipped our online learning model from pay-per-course to pay-per-month subscription. Instead of paying for individual courses, you can now pay a single flat fee each month to receive access to our entire curriculum of courses!

INTRODUCING:  Search Engine College Monthly Subscription

Subscribe now

What Do You Get?

Your monthly subscription of USD 99 entitles you to INSTANT access to the following online courses:

  •         Search Engine Optimization Starter
  •         Search Engine Optimization Advanced
  •         Paid Search Advertising Starter
  •         Paid Search Advertising Advanced
  •         Web Site Copywriting
  •         Web Site Usability
  •         Copywriting for Pay Per Click
  •         Article Marketing and Distribution

New courses coming by the end of the year:

  •         Link Building
  •         Keyword Research
  •         Social Media Marketing

These courses normally have a retail value of between USD 295 and 395 EACH.

How Does it Work?

Sign up for a trial subscription. Pay just USD 99 for your first month and that’s it. Once you subscribe, you will receive instructions for accessing our courses via the email address associated with your subscription. You simply create a student account and login to our course area. After you login, you can view any/all of the courses we have on offer and take the lessons / quizzes / presentations in any order you like.

There is absolutely no ongoing commitment beyond your initial month. If you enjoy our online courses, keep your subscription up to date. If you don’t, simply cancel your subscription before the due date of your renewal (i.e. within 30 days).

We haven’t abandoned the Certification model either. For those of you who would prefer to study under tutor guidance and receive industry-recognized certification for a particular course, that option is still available as an add-on to your subscription.

Industry Discounts

As an added incentive to become a Search Engine College subscriber, we have put together a range of industry discounts worth up to USD 500, exclusively for subscribers. The discounts relate to a wide range of keyword research tools, online subscriptions, time-saving software, competitor analysis tools, magazines and books that are all very popular in the search marketing industry.

Subscribers are automatically given access to this Industry Discounts area upon login.

In short – a Search Engine College membership is your One Stop Shop for training, tools and industry knowledge. Join our members from 59 countries and see how we make learning FUN.

We’re Listening

We’re really excited to bring you this subscription model, particularly because you’ve been asking us for such a long time. We know this suits the budgets and learning style of most of our students, but we would be very keen to hear your feedback on this. As always, if you have any questions, please contact us or post here in the comments.

 

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Introduction to SEO: Workshops in Auckland, Wellington

google-keyMost of you know that I’ve been running training workshops in conjunction with the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) here in New Zealand now for over 12 months and really enjoy it.

The next round of workshops coming up are on the subject of: Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation.

These full-day workshops will show you step-by-step how to optimise your or your clients’ web sites to get noticed by Google and other engines. It will be a fun day, with some group activities, games and (if time permits), live analysis of the web sites of willing attendees.

Whether you’re an IT manager, marketer, coder, website coordinator or business owner, getting well placed for your key terms on search engines is hugely valuable and important.

At the end of the course attendees will be able to:

  •     Understand how Google and other search engines rank pages.
  •     Understand what makes a web page search engine compatible.
  •     Understand what type of content search engines love.
  •     Research and select appropriate keywords to target.
  •     Successfully integrate search keywords within web site copy.
  •     Create effective and optimised web pages.
  •     Learn why social media can improve their search rankings.
  •     Monitor their search positions and report meaningful data to stake holders.

Below are the details and booking links for Auckland and Wellington events, so please share with anyone you know who might benefit from attending:

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Auckland
Date: 28 August 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: University of Otago House

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Wellington
Date: 30 August 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Terrace Conference Centre

Thanks for your support!

 

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40 Tips for Stress-Free Public Speaking

public speaking tipsNo matter what kind of job you have, or what business you’re in, there comes a time when you are asked to give a presentation in front of a group of people.

Now public speaking is something that doesn’t come naturally to most of us and in fact a survey not too long ago found that many people are more terrified of speaking in public than they are of death itself. When asked to choose between death and public speaking, death was the preferred option! Crazy, right?

But for those of us with social anxiety, public speaking, even to small groups, can fill us with dread. As an educator and consultant, a large part of my job involves public speaking. I am called upon to present information in client meetings to senior management, I speak to large groups of students and universities via webinars, I give presentations to large rooms full of people at conferences and I run regular full and half day training workshops for industry organisations. So I regularly give presentations to groups of people ranging from 5 to 500.

I used to HATE giving public presentations. I still dislike it strongly, but after regularly forcing myself into giving them for 10 years now, I am slightly more relaxed about it than I used to be. Sure, I still find it difficult to sleep the night before a speaking gig. And if you look closely at me on stage, you’ll probably spot my legs shaking, but provided I have prepared well and know my subject matter, I’ll muddle through and generally do a good job.

Going along with the analogy “do something every day that scares you”, I think it’s important for me to put myself out there and prove to myself that I can do it. I also feel it is excellent therapy to help me deal with my social anxiety. Apart from the benefits to myself, I know I have a lot of knowledge that I can impart to others and what better way to share that knowledge than public speaking?

Anyway, after giving yet another presentation this week, it occured to me that I have built up a pretty good pre-presentation checklist that others might find useful. So here they are:

Top Tips for Making Your Presentations Run Smoothly and Stress Free:

  1. Find out exactly where the venue is in relation to your accommodation and if you’ve got time, make a practice run to the venue the day before.
  2. If the venue is large (e.g. a university), ask for a map showing exactly where the room is that you’ll be speaking in.
  3. If you’re driving to the venue, factor in extra time for unexpected traffic jams and take plenty of coins in case you need to use paid parking.
  4. Find out what technology will be available to you (whiteboard / projector / laptop / slide clicker) and adjust if necessary.
  5. If you’ve arranged catering for break times, confirm details with caterers the day before.
  6. Get at least 8 hours sleep the night before.
  7. Have a big breakfast but no coffee if it makes you anxious. Try a decaf or hot chocolate instead.
  8. Get to the venue at least an hour early so you can get comfortable, test the technology and rehearse.
  9. Upon arrival, make yourself known to someone at the venue who can help you with technical and other issues.
  10. Make sure you know exactly how much time you have on stage and confirm break times with the organizers and your audience before starting.
  11. Wear layers. No matter what the weather outside, air conditioning can be your friend and your foe. Wear clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in, but in layers that you can easily slip on or off depending on the room temperature.
  12. Wear comfortable shoes.
  13. Re-read that last point. This is important! Public speaking is no place for stilettos. Especially when you are walking around on a stage that will likely have electrical cables snaking all over it.
  14. Don’t assume the venue will provide you with water. Take a bottle with you.
  15. Don’t assume the venue will provide paper and pens for your attendees – ask for them.
  16. Bring your business cards and place them somewhere prominent for people to take.
  17. Bring your presentation on a Flash drive in multiple formats (e.g. .pptx, .ppt, .odp, .pdf) just in case something goes wrong.
  18. Bring your own HDMI or component cable for hooking up to a projector, just in case the venue doesn’t have one.
  19. Bring a backup power source for your laptop and/or projector.
  20. Bring or ask for a lapel microphone if the venue is large and you want to be sure you can be heard up the back.
  21. Don’t assume the venue will provide Internet access. With large audiences, free wifi at events can often be maxed out quickly, so if you need Internet access for your presentation, take your own or make arrangements with the organizers.
  22. If you have mobile Internet access via your phone, take along your phone charger and spare battery in case you need to use it.
  23. Don’t assume you can use your own laptop.
  24. Don’t assume you don’t need your own laptop.
  25. Be prepared for the venue to run everything on Windows (take adaptors for Mac and/or Linux). Yes, I learned this one the hard way.
  26. Don’t assume your laptop will recognize the venue projector/monitor. Take your own or have a backup plan.
  27. Don’t assume the venue projector/monitor supports Presenter Mode. Take a print out of your notes in case you can’t see notes/slides view while presenting.
  28. If you are linking to live resources on the Internet, have them open in separate windows on your laptop and test that all links work.
  29. If you are showing videos, test they work and test the volume of the audio to make sure they can be heard by everyone in the room.
  30. Find out how to turn the lights on/off if you need to show videos.
  31. Find out where/if you can increase the temperature of the air conditioning in the room in case attendees are too hot/cold.
  32. Bring deodorant, especially if you have a tendency to sweat when anxious.
  33. Bring breath mints so you can feel confident networking with attendees afterwards.
  34. Remember to turn off your cell phone prior to going on stage, unless you are using it for Internet access. In this case, turn the volume down or off in case your Mom tries to call mid-presentation.
  35. Store some tissues in a pocket that will be easily reachable during your presentation in case your nose starts to run (air conditioning can be brutal at some venues!).
  36. Smile. Even if you’re struggling or things are not going well, people will forgive you if you smile your way through.
  37. Ask your audience some questions! It will take the focus off you, just for a little while and give you a chance to pause and collect your thoughts. This is a great tip if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed or find yourself racing through your slides.
  38. Work out where the toilets are before you go on stage, in case you have to slip out quickly or the attendees ask you where they are.
  39. Find out the emergency exits and fire/earthquake drills for the venue before you go on stage and make sure your audience knows it too. After living in Christchurch for the past few years, this is pretty much routine at all business events now!
  40. Always ask for feedback on your presentation, either from the audience directly, or via the organizer if they are using feedback forms. Good or bad, audience feedback is extremely valuable. Positive feedback can validate your hard work and reinforce your sense of achievement in standing up in front of a group. Negative feedback in the form of honest, constructive criticism can highlight areas for improvement and help you develop your presentations skills for next time. It’s a win, win!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and perhaps they will help your next public speaking engagement run a little more smoothly. Do you have any tips not included here? Please add them in the comments.

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Workshops: Social Media Marketing for Business

venn-diagram-smm

Social Media Venn Diagram

If you’re in New Zealand, you are probably familiar with the Institute of IT Professionals.

The IITP is New Zealand’s oldest, non-profit professional body of IT members throughout the country. As well as an excellent mentoring program, the IITP run a series of professional development workshops across NZ on various IT, business and marketing subjects.

I’ve been running training workshops in conjunction with IITP now for over 12 months and really enjoy it. The next round of workshops coming up are on the subject of Social Media Marketing for Business.

This full-day workshop will show you step-by-step how to implement a social media marketing strategy for a business of any size. Included will be real-life case studies, practical examples and clever ideas for using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and other social media channels that you can immediately adapt to suit your own requirements.

It will be a fun day, with some group activities, games and (if time permits), live analysis of existing social media strategies of willing attendees.

Below are the details and booking links for Wellington and Auckland events, so please share with anyone you know who might benefit from attending:

Social Media Marketing for Business – Wellington
Date: 14 May 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Terrace Conference Centre

Social Media Marketing for Business – Auckland
Date: 16 May 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: University of Otago House

Thanks for your support!

 

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