Ross and Scott are joined by two special guests to share stories about their dearly departed friend and co-host of SEO 101, John Carcutt. For those who are new to the podcast, John recorded over 400 episodes with Ross Dunn over the course of 11 years.



Transcription of Episode 421

Ross: Hello, and welcome to SEO 101 on WMR.FM episode number 421. This is Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my co-host is my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte. Thanks for being on again, Scotty.
Scott: Absolutely. Thanks for letting me be on.
Ross: In addition, we have Daron Babin, the owner of WMR.FM. Nice to have you on Daron!
Daron: Hey, Ross, thanks! Glad to be here.
Ross: And Brasco, the one and only, our producer and the most awesome man ever. So glad you helped us with this show, man. It’s just amazing. 
Jorge / Brasco: Thanks for the rare occasion to jump on the mic to talk with y’all. 
Ross: So glad to have you. So it’s a bit of an occasion, indeed. 
Those who don’t know, sadly, on November 8, we lost our dear friend, John Carcutt, to a sudden and unexpected passing. It was a shock for everyone and it’s taken some time to get back on the show and do it again. Just even reading that intro again was weird. It’s stunning how things change so quickly but I wanted to bring on some great people and just share a bit about John and I’ve got some quotes to share too from people around the industry and some of our listeners. Anyway, what do you guys remember most fondly about John? 
Daron: Oh my gosh. I’ll jump right in here. John and I connected on a level that I don’t know if the rest of you did or not, maybe Scott does. Ross, I’m not sure if you are… Jorge gives it like the honorary nod. But myself and John, we were diehard Rush fans. Now, when I say diehard Rush fans, I mean, I had missed a concert but not a single tour since I was 16 years old and now I’m in my mid-50s. So John and I would always end up in conversations about it, or some concert would happen and I was always there so I take some pics or whatever and he always had something to say, right? I think as Rush fans, I think we’re slightly different. We connect on this weird, geeky algorithmic level. I think as old core SEOs, that works for our personalities and so I have very fond memories of John and I going back and forth for as long as I could remember, over Rush. 
Ross: It’s true. I totally forgot about that. You guys were always on that. It is legendary. 
Daron: In fact, I remember. Jorge, do you remember? There was some contest that I had entered and they were giving away backstage passes, and this was for a performance happening in Long Island. So I had gotten in there, let’s just say the fix was kind of in, even though I didn’t win, I put all kinds of resources behind it. John actually got in there and helped. He was driving my vote count in this contest. I thought that was amazing because here’s someone else who could have been doing it for himself but he was helping me. I thought that was awesome. That truly speaks to who he was in my book. 
Jorge / Brasco: When we first got to know John, he was living down here in South Florida like we are, where we’re based. We knew him from the local circles just from networking. Obviously, a lot of people knew John, and there’s a whole networking circle down here. Even for the fact that the first SEO 101 episode he did with us, he did it in our studio. He actually dropped in to do it with us. That’s how excited he was to come on, I can tell you that. He was like “Can I just do it every week?” I was like, “we’re gonna have to use the studio for other things though. We’re a little occupied”
Daron: That’s true. 
Ross: I didn’t know that. 
Daron: If you remember, and this may be something your audience doesn’t remember, SEO 101 wasn’t always Ross Dunn and John Carcutt. We had previous hosts on there, and those hosts went one way. In fact, Jorge and myself and Brandy, we all sat down and we had a conversation and we said, “This is a void that needs to be filled.” It was an ongoing conversation for, I want to say, probably a month or six weeks before we narrowed down a list. 
Jorge / Brasco: Jim Hedger was down here. 
Daron: Yes, Jim was a part of that. I can’t remember, Ross, did I come to you first? 
Ross: I don’t know. 
Daron: It’s been so long. 
Jorge / Brasco: Jim was involved and he was there when it really got put together, where it was you and Jennifer Laycock together to do the show, right? 
Daron: That’s right. It was an amazing, amazing evolution. Can I tell you, John made it home. If that makes sense, doesn’t that make sense? 
Jorge / Brasco: Well, that was the best part too, Ross. I didn’t know how close you both were in the first place. It wasn’t like we were just trying to put two people together, just to like put a team together. You guys had history beforehand, right? 
Ross: Yeah. I asked him to be on. I thought, “John, you know what, we’re best buddies here, why don’t you come on the show? We have so much fun talking.” He’s like, “Absolutely, I would love to” and it just blossomed. Everyone asked me about my podcast and I go, “Geez, man. I just love doing it because I literally get to talk to my best buddy every week.” How cool was that.
Jorge / Brasco: Yeah, and the show’s performed so well because what you and John did, and had been doing for so long, is the best way podcasts are done is when they’re organic, they’re natural and you could just tell that you guys are just shooting the breeze. You were talking shop and it’s natural, it’s comfortable and you’re laughing all through it and having a great old time. I mean, you could just tell people love the chemistry you had, amazing chemistry, more than I can say than any of the other podcasts we ever had. 
Ross: That’s great to hear that. 
Daron: That’s a lot of shows we had on too. We’ve had a lot of shows. I’ll truly say, I think this show has been a shining example of what it is to be a leader in an industry. You didn’t come into this particular podcast and neither one of you have ever been, in my opinion, one of those arrogant, self proclaimed do gooders that are out there like “I’m the expert” and all this. Y’all came in and did this under the moniker of a 101, right? Come and learn and share. We posture the show with you guys as being great for the beginner to the old timer to the expert and it really is. I think the longevity of the show is also a testament to the leadership of the space. You look at the guests that have been on, the sheer number of people that walk away from it with actionable information, that’s actually helped them in their everyday jobs and businesses, some for their own businesses. You know, aside from working a nine to five for the man, I think it speaks to who the show is and who your audience is. It’s great. 
Jorge / Brasco: Speaking of the audience, next week will be like 11 years ago, when I convinced Daron up and right, when we’re doing the Avcon series in Miami at the turn by your house, and I got you and John to do the show live in front of the affiliate marketing community and I thought “What a great idea to do this part here.” I know you guys had a good turnout. I was too busy to go and watch it but I remember you got a lot of questions. I don’t know how much of a difference it made but it was a good house, the show was great, and it was just nice to finally get you guys in front and get that whole experience of what we get to hear behind the microphones every week.
Ross: Yeah, and I got to go and stay with him in his house. It was so much fun in Florida. Then I got to do that again just a couple years ago, thank goodness, at his Ohio place just after he bought it and we had a fantastic time. I just went there and spent a week or a few days with him. We were planning on doing that again, of course, but that didn’t happen. We were going to do a road trip. We had a whole bunch of things planned and just really enjoyed each other’s company and I got such a kick. The other thing about John that I think I’m gonna miss the most is, we’d become kind of confidants too, so I could call him. He’d call me and talk about a particular SEO thing he had, you know, we wouldn’t feel stupid about being stupid. You know, we’d say stuff that I probably wouldn’t say in front of other people like, “Do I really understand what we’re talking about here?” And he goes, “No, you don’t.” I’m like, “Thanks, man.” Sometimes he’d ask me some stuff. To his credit, there was never something that he didn’t know. He’s a very bright guy. He would throw ideas at you, like a marketing plan and it’s like, “Yeah, that’s a pretty good idea. How about we do it this way?” My wife, she’s noticed how hard it was on me because I didn’t really realize just how close I was with him but I often think, “Oh, I can’t wait to share this with John.” That’s about the only time I get choked up as of late, you know. 
Daron: Those come with trauma, the unexpected, right? They hit you when you just least expect it. You reach for the phone, you look at your favorites and his name is still there. Yeah, it sucks. 
Scott: I don’t have a lot of experience, like I’ve known him socially, through social media and all that kind of stuff for years now. I didn’t even realize, the same as Ross, I didn’t realize how close I was with him and I had a similar experience. My son took on playing the trumpet and John made fun of it saying, “Well, he needs to play the drums. He’s not part of a real school” you know, all the typical sort of jokes. Then, I think it was the day after John passed, my son started playing the drums and my gut reaction was “I got to get in touch with John and let him know.” Then that’s when I realized, like, “Oh, like he’s gone and I care.” You know, it’s not like I didn’t care before, but that’s when it hit me that I actually care a lot more than I thought I did. It was kind of an eye opener, for sure. 
Daron: Scott, have you ever sat down and like broke bread? Had a beer one-on-one with him? 
Scott: It had been on the list for years. It just never happened. 
Daron: We’ve had a lot of folks in this industry pass. I would say, in the last year and a half – two years, we have really seen an uptick in people that we’re close to that are now gone. We create these connections here online, and these digital connections, and sometimes thanks to Zoom, we get to put a face with it. I am thankful for the connections that I’ve gotten to have as a result of this community, prior to COVID, when we’re all on the road and we’re doing shows. Granted, the search space is a little different than it has been in the past and it’s not that city to city to city to city thing that we used to do but I’m grateful for those times because guys like John were there and I got to break bread with them and I got to hoist beers with them. I got to include them in drunken webmaster roundtables that we broadcast live. We’ve done some pretty crazy stuff like that and I’m grateful for those times. It’s sad that it takes something like this, for us to sit and take a pause and look back. We should do that more often. After I heard the news about John, I was talking with Hedger and when we got done, I told him, “I don’t talk to you as often as I should or as we have in the past but you should know, I love you. You’re my brother, we’re family, we’re a community and I choose you as family.” Which is important, that’s an important distinction to make. We don’t always enjoy the family we’re born into but let me tell you, we all love the family we choose. I would say that John Carcutt, he was family we chose. 
Ross: Absolutely, well said. It has been quite the ride. A couple of notes here to share. There’s a lot here but I’ll start at the top. 

  • Stefano Melis said “After years of listening to Ross and John on their SEO 101 podcast, it was incredibly sad to hear of John’s premature passing. My thoughts are with his family and his friends.”
  • The awesome, also extensively experienced, David Ogletree said “So very sad. I’ve known him a long time. One of the great SEOs.”
  • My friend, and also a bit of a celebrity, I suppose, in our industry is Tamar Weinberg. Tamar is wonderful and she said “This is devastating news. John was a rockstar and all-around amazing guy.”
  • Loren Baker. Now, I know Loren and John were very close at one time and with Daryl and the gang, says “This hurts. Rest in peace, buddy.” So few words but he really said it right.

This list is insane. There’s just so many amazing people that put words in. 
Daron: This is a who’s who list. 
Ross: It is. 

  • Nick Wilsdon: “I’m sorry to hear that. I’d always enjoyed my interactions with John – he was one of the industry OGs. Condolences to his family.”
  • Doc Sheldon: “John was a friend and a colleague whom I respected tremendously. He will be sorely missed.”

I’m cutting out the “my condolences” part, everyone says that of course, because we all deeply care about Annie and his sons and it’s just hard to see them going through this. 

  • Jessica Hammer: “Like many, John gave me many boosts throughout my career. He referred me to a great job that was a stepping stone to a more lucrative, rewarding career (UX). A decade later he was a reference for my first Director role. But more than that, he was a friend and great fun to be around. My heart goes out to his family and friends as they adjust to this new reality.”

And these are actual listeners again,

  • Brian J Loebig: “John was one of my top SEO inspirations. Listening to you guys on the podcast makes me feel like he is someone I’ve gotten to know personally over the years. I will miss his dry wit, his ad lib responses to articles Ross researched and his warm, caring persona which came across as truly authentic.” 
  • Skip Graham: “John obviously possessed a wealth of SEO technical knowledge but he readily shared it with listeners in a humble way. I’ve been doing SEO work for a while but always learned something actionable every time John was on the podcast. I can’t imagine the loss felt by his family and friends. Godspeed.”

Now I’m going to take a pause and do what I would do if John was on the show. “Thanks, skip.” “Jeez, what?” “You don’t get anything wrong on the show? Just me, huh?” Scott’s here then, you’ll take over.
Scott: Yeah.
Ross: Alright.

  • Mary Davies: “I just want to say a quick note about the incredibly caring, kind person that John was. Community was important to him. I really appreciated his willingness to help those around him and to be so positive and uplifting.”

Mary wrote a lot there, I just wanted to take that perfect little snippet from it. There’s a lot more and you know what, we’d love listeners to add their own thoughts about their experiences or how much they enjoy John. There’s a place called In fact, it’s easy to find, you just type in John Carcutt on Google and I think it’s the fourth listing there (, and it’s his memorial.

In there, you can actually leave comments and stories and whatever you’d like. It’d be really valuable to have those on there. I will do my best to share them once in a while too. I don’t want to belabor all this, you know, he’s an important part of this show, an important part of our lives. I’m going to honor him for a while. If we see some great comments, I’ll be happy to put them out there. So thank you.
With that said, thank you so much, you guys, for being on the show for this segment. It meant a lot. 
Daron: Thanks for inviting us, really. I think getting to share a few thoughts and look back, again, always fond. Of course, this is a loss and so I give my condolences. Not only to you, Ross, because I know this is a big hit for you, but especially to his wife and his children and his family. When you don’t see it coming, it can be devastating. So, again, our heart, our love and our prayers to all of you guys. Thanks for having us on.
Ross: Thank you. Yeah, and another note to listeners too. They do a GoFundMe campaign to help them out through this time. When it’s a shock like this, it is always hard on the families financially. He was the main breadwinner, the only breadwinner actually so it’s a pretty big blow. You can find it easily, just type in “John Carcutt” in GoFundMe ( and you’ll find it there. Those who have already donated, thank you so much. Annie has just been blown away by the support and we really appreciate y’all. Thank you. 
Alright you guys. Well, I think we’re gonna call it quits, I think for this episode we’ve done a lot. November has been a busy month in terms of SEO news, but I think we’re gonna cover a bunch of it in the next show to serve a recap and then jump into December. It’s another wild month coming up.
So, on behalf of myself, Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing and my company’s senior SEO, Scott Van Achte, plus Daron Babin of WMR.FM and Jorge Hermida of WMR.FM, thank you for joining us today. Remember, we have a shownotes newsletter that you can sign up for on, don’t miss a single link and you can refresh your memory of a past show at any time. If you have any questions that you’d like to share with us, please feel free to post them on our Facebook group, easily found by searching SEO 101 podcast on Facebook. Anyone who’s done that before knows that we respond. We love it and we get some great ideas for the shows. It’s just fun all around. Have a great weekend. Remember to tune in to future episodes, which air every week on WMR.FM. 
Scott: And as John always just put it simply, thanks for listening everybody.