‘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.

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.

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:


Twitter Twitter

Breaking the Silence

Earlier this afternoon, I officially sold my stake in Nobis, letting go of my creation that’s more or less dominated my life for the past six years (and is why I’ve been missing in action for the past few months).  The reasons and events that led up to this are complex on a level that I don’t think that I want to put too much out here (for risk of being misinterpreted) but I will leave this with these final words.

I’m grateful for all of the passion of their own that our staff put into building this thing that started as nothing more than some scribbling on a notepad.  Ubiquity has grown to scales that I never would have been capable of achieving alone.   We were incredibly fortunate to have had those first handfuls of hosting customers that stayed fanatics about what we were doing, still now, with thousands of others also worth thanking.  In just a few years, these experiences have taught me an incredible amount about myself, choosing friends, and the different effects that money and power have on people.  It’s also shown me what we are capable of building if we’re constantly optimistic and doing.

Nothing in my life has been more difficult that the events of the past year and a half, but looking ahead, there’s no doubt that I’m personally in a better place today than I was yesterday, and given the right efforts, I’m confident the next day will be better still, and so on.  I never really expected to run Ubiquity forever, nor did I ever believe that this would be the greatest thing in my life that I create.  It won’t be.   But those ideas will be blog posts for another day.

Where I Keep the Internet

Here’s what the Internet really looks like (photos taken at the Ubiquity data center in Chicago with Branden’s sweet camera.. paired with Branden‘s equally sweet knowledge of how to make the camera take pictures like these).

Internet storage containers

center of the universe

Modular Servers


The Matrix

Looking at the first picture, the blog you’re reading right now came from the 3rd ghost containment grid from the foreground… somewhere near the top.

Los Angeles, Seattle, and back

About 10 days ago a decision was made to send someone from our company to Los Angeles to take care of a variety of things, which is where I’ve been for about 9 days (in case you’d been wondering).

Nobis now has one more employee, a much more built-out footprint, and I’d like to say some great new connections (as well as affirming as many existing ones as possible while I was here, running through Mzima HQ looking well over the top of One Wilshire and Multipoint). And much as expected it’s been a pretty awesome time running around LA’s comedy clubs, wandering through random film sets, and eating at crazy outdoor rooftop sushi restaurants.

Takami Sushi in LA

Next week is Seattle, before venturing home (hey it’s <$100 ticket on Virgin from LAX, who could pass that up?). I’m pretty psyched about that, because I’m about the only one I know that loves rain. Provided no crazy problems, you’ll see me back in the corn fields again before the end of next week.

The Sundial

A subtle but important change happened to the one of our websites this past week that I’ve been getting asked about a lot. The most plain, but arguably, most important website we own finally had its brand image made, only a year late. nobisThe design itself is another credit to Gary‘s awesome work, the design itself tied in a mass of concepts I’d wanted to see the Nobis personality to convey… and a little bit by my fascination with ancient technology.

A lot of people have said- why not just make one of the more powerful companies like Ubiquity or DarkStar the parent? That’s definitely the way a lot of people do things, and would more importantly of been a lot less work. The problem comes in where the markets that Nobis caters to are just too way spread out. Targeting both a Fortune 500 and a kid that spends too much time playing World of Warcraft just doesn’t work in our eyes. But that didn’t mean there weren’t things we needed our base to show. The idea of the obscured sundial (and yes if you are one of the 1 in 5 that doesn’t see it, or one of the 1 in 10 I’ve talked to that somehow doesn’t even know what a sundial is or would look like, that’s what it is) has been just about my favorite icon long before this, and ties in a lot of ideas, but more important than this and any aesthetic appeal, is that it stays open to a lot of positive/relevant interpretation, as a good brand should.

Google and Gadgets

Like all of the people that work with me know, the thing I’m really crazy about is SEO. It’s kind of my thing in the company. Really, with the world constantly moving to the Internet, what better piece of knowledge is there than understanding how the search engines work?

After seeing Google’s Director of Development Kevin Willer speak at ISU a few weeks ago with Chad, I’ve been on even more of a focus on Google that usual. One thing that’s really struck my attention this past week was Stuntdubl‘s fantastic post recently on Google Hot Trends and Eliot Spitzer searches. How something this cool has existed for so long without me knowing I have no idea. More dorky / interesting to me than even the hot trends tool, is just looking at the public information they have on searches in general with Google Trends.

First, it seems natural to check the natural pulse of the Internet to look at how much searching has been done overall. We’ll call this our control.


Fantastic. Now you can use this information to find out things that matter. Like, when did it really become cool to rick roll a crowded place with one of those juke boxes that lets you download songs? The answer is actually quite a while ago now..

rick roll

Or, how about the demand for glittery “Hot Stuff” graphics and other myspace-related Internet pollutants.


You get the idea- give it a try.

In other news, EdibleHost.com, one of the bastard step grandkids of the Nobis company list; now has a really fantastic plugin for instantly checking out domain names in FireFox.or IE7. Go ahead and click on this to get it on your search list; and the next time you have a great .com idea, don’t just forget about it and write it off, find out if you could make it happen.