30 Days: No Looking Down, No Looking Up

For a long time now, I’ve been a big fan of Matt Cutt’s blog, where he does these 30 day challenges.  I’m not sure if Matt’s the one that originated it (I know of other big bloggers like Dr. Pete that are also big on this), but the shared inspiration and transparence is something that I’ve always liked, and it’s something positive that you, as a reader, can likely relate with.

But first a little preface.

My life has been kind of a surreal ride over the past year and a half.  I live in a new city, running a new company in a new industry, am engaged to an amazing girl, living a life that I never dreamed possible.  Somewhere in this ride, a friend of mine helped me out in one of the greatest ways I think that anyone ever has- he got my into rock climbing at the surprisingly amazing gym in my small hometown of Bloomington, Illinois.

This was significant for me for a few reasons. First, I’m terrified of heights. If someone hadn’t pushed me out of an airplane a year earlier at a bachelor party, I don’t think that I ever would have considered. And my first time climbing couldn’t have been more terrible. I watched kids tear up the 65 foot grain silos at Upper Limits, while I sat there halfway up the wall. That about did it for me, until a friend there gave me a single piece of advice.

“Don’t look down. I never look down. In fact I rarely even look very far up, because that can be awful too. Just focus on what needs to happen next.”

And with that, I went from failing that first climb to succeeding, and just a year later was climbing 5.10 grade routes, attending the occasional competition, and passed a lead certification (to you non-climbers, that looks a lot like the cougar/exploding van-filled scenario up to the right).

But that brings us to this- much of what’s made the last year go so well for me is the above scenario. Life is a lot like this. Too many people paralyze themselves in fear.  They marinate in the past, where they feel safe, rather than reaching for the next great thing. I’ve been doing SEO for nearly 10 years, but it wasn’t until I washed away negative influences and talked myself up to take the leap, that I’ve been published on 4 of the top 25 marketing sites this year alone with relative ease.

That should have happened a whole lot sooner.

So with that, here is my first 30 day challenge (the ideal amount of time to form a new habit).  I will not look down.  No late night reflection over decisions made during the day previous, or before.  I will not look (too far) up.  I’ll make sure the next step is a bold one and keep some ambitious goals.  But no writing plans for my next 17 startup projects through a Monday afternoon.  No panic over how Northcutt will operate at 75 employees.  Just this moment, and the one to follow.

Paradise or Oblivion

Some interesting futurist ideas about a totally new society that would embrace technology and automation at it’s core.  Some of The Venus Project‘s concepts seem far out there and sometimes reach beyond what I totally understand. Regardless, these ideas are definitely a refreshing alternative to letting Fox and NBC numb your brain.

Whether or not this could actually do away with greed standing in the way of human progress remains to be seen, but it’s a nice to see somebody offering such far-reaching solutions.

2012 is Here

In keeping with the I’ll write an update whenever I damn well feel like it” nature of this blog, it seemed to be about time to post an update.

Part of what’s been keeping me from writing blog posts here in recent months is the fact that I’ve started writing about SEO and content marketing once a week, over here.  I’ve enabled feedburner subscriptions so that you can keep up (*hint hint*).  I’ve also working on building up blogs a bit for Northcutt’s clients (and more case studies on those folks can be expected this year).

In the meantime, I’d like this blog to remain the place where my mind goes to write when it starts to wander (that means no more posts about SEO here).  I’ve added a links page and plan to continue blogging on more random topics that are of interest to me (and who knows, could be to you as well).


‘Northcutt’ Will Launch on July 27


I’ve mentioned my consulting work a few times now on this blog but so far, the details have been kept relatively quiet.  On July 27, I intend to change that.

A few months back, I acquired the domain northcutt.com, registered Northcutt Consulting Group, LLC, and began all of the basic organizing necessary in forming a fresh, well-functioning company.  It’s encouraging that even before launching a web site, this company is profitable and operating smoothly.  Finally putting a face on this project will mean the expansion from freelance consulting to consulting firm, expanding into a staffed operation that’s capable of scaling.

So, to anyone that knows anyone in need of some expert SEO/SEM consulting, be sure to get in touch, and ask me for a copy of our referral agreement.  We’ll be paying very nicely.

Get Off the Internet

Really.  The world ends today.

But should it not, I’ll be back back in IL for a bit after a brief adventure up the East Coast.   My focus this month is on moving to Chicago proper, and continuing research/development to improve my SEO consulting process for my existing clients, as well as in preparation for the launch of Northcutt.com sometime in Q3.  Exciting times.

Evolution of the Google Algorithm

The last two Google updates (especially Farmer/Panda) have pretty well shaken the whole web; and I can echo this with my own large-scale test sites.  I found this cool graphic over at SEOBook that gives a little history of past Google-dances.   I’d like to preface it with 3 points of my own minor critique:

  • rel=nofollow may not be treated exactly the same as dofollow, but it definitely passes value.  This can be tested simply and is echoed across the SEO world.
  • The concept of a link hurting a website is still one that I believe to be wildly misconstrued in SEO.  I’m as big an advocate as anyone of building high-value, relevant, white-hat links.  Not only do they show pretty obvious effects on the SERP’s, but these usually result in the most direct traffic as well (and isn’t traffic what we want at the end of the day?).  Various methods of bulk link building and affiliate links will become devalued (and THAT, will hurt, by association, but not directly), however.  This subtle but important approach is the only thing that keeps SEO’s from ejecting competitor sites from the rankings, and I have yet to see this ever done.  If it ever was possible for even a short time as this chart suggests, it is not possible anymore.
  • While even other Google-dances have made changes that aren’t in this chart, at the end of the day, nothing has completely revolutionized SEO.  As an SEO, it’s found to generally be easier to do something wrong and hit a penalty than it is to increase trust/relevance.  That said, SEO at it’s core, really has not changed much with Google, Yahoo!, or anybody.  The sky will not fall.  The concept at the end of the day is still this-  build a good site that gets good links.

Google's SEO Cat & Mouse.

Over the Harbor

It’s a rainy morning at the Cabrits garrison in northern Dominica (which is where I’ve been living for the past few weeks).   Here’s what the office looks like today:

The misty storytale-quality of this photo is not an iphone effect, but rather the mountains here actually rest permanently inside of low-flying clouds.  And, it sounds like this.

Something New

Our knowledge is the amassed thought and experience of innumerable minds.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Famous QuotesFor a long time now I’ve run stunt double websites to test different promotion tactics in the wild, rather than doing the experimenting on my corporate sites.  This quote site was one that I actually started having some fun with, and I’ve had a lot of time on my hands recently, so I decided to make this the first of a few fresh projects that are going in the incubator.

Why quotes?

Well, I’ve always wanted to inspire millions of people, and by my math, it’s actually possible this already has.   People love quotes; they’re a great way to make yourself sound smarter than you really are.   There’s also virtually no maintenance necessary on the site, and it’s designed to promote itself virally over time.  And, it’s been too long since I’ve seen fun charts like this one:

Comparing a variety of data that I took from DoubleClick, Compete, SEOMoz, and Alexa, this site is in the top 30 famous quote sites already (easy!).  The goal is the top 3 in 1 year at around 10 million pageviews/month, and to be #1 in 3 years, which would take around 50 million pageviews/month if all stays constant (hey, anything worth doing is worth doing well).  If you get down like this, here’s how you can get follow the quotes in your favorite social media:


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